New TfL website now available in beta – try it and give us your feedback

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Today we’re really pleased to share our new beta website with you. Building a new TfL website is a huge challenge, it’s a big site used by 75% of Londoners. Making it better than before is not simply about giving it a shiny new design or adding pretty pictures, but getting under the skin of exactly what you as the customer need.

We did this by looking at what you said you expect from the site, analysing numerous research studies and carrying out additional focus groups to fill in any gaps. We then produced our first concepts and tested these with customers, refining them along the way.

Finally, once we were sure we had something which worked well, we began to build each piece.

Why a beta website?

The beta is a partially finished site containing some of our most used tools, such as Journey Planner, and gives a flavour of what the finished site will be like when it is launched later this year. We’ve done it this way so we can take on board your feedback and get everyone used to the changes. At the top of every page is a feedback button with a couple of questions and a text box where you can enter your comments.

Your feedback will help us to see how we’ve done and where changes need to be made. If you like using the current website, don’t worry, it will be around for a few more months, and you can still reach it at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ as usual.

What’s in the beta website?

In the beta you’ll find a completely new design which works across mobiles, tablets and desktops. Journey Planner has been upgraded to make it easier to use on the move and it remembers your recent journeys. You can now use the GPS on your phone as part of journey planning, saving you time, and we’ve integrated Google Maps and Streetview to make it easier to find your way around.

What happens next?

Over the coming weeks we’ll be adding mapping, departure boards, service updates and the remaining content pages. We’ve also got some new tools up our sleeves, like ‘Nearby’ which enables you to use a map to see all the transport options around you and get the live status of each one at a glance.

Once all this has been added we’ll be ready to say goodbye to the old website.

We’ll keep you updated throughout using this blog and bring you more in-depth information from the team on what went into designing and building it.

Please take the time to give it a try and let us know what you think, by filling in the feedback form or commenting on this blog.

14 thoughts on “New TfL website now available in beta – try it and give us your feedback

  1. A comment over the Journey Planner – for a (tube) journey from Uxbridge to Upminster, to my mind the simplest route (least walking, least changes) is Piccadilly & District changing Hammersmith (or such). But fewest changes gives me a walk from Aldgate to Aldgate East (is this a valid OSI?), even with walk time of 0; least walking gives me two changes, with a Met to Central change at Liverpool Street (further than across the platform at Hammersmith)
    How can I obtain the fewest + simplest changes + least (or no) walking route?
    On trying to force a Hammersmith change, by putting ‘Hammersmith’ in – ‘Hammersmith’ per se leads me to have to choose one – the relevant one is on the second page….
    For such an entry I would expect the first option(s) to be the locality ‘Hammersmith’ and the group of stops (& stations) serving it (i.e. the two tube stations, the bus station, any stops used as an alternative to the bus station)

  2. Got to say guys – loving the beta site – think it’s absolutely brilliant, and really cool to see user centric design taking its rightful place at the heart of online public services. Were guys working with GDS or has it been done independently?

    A geeky question – what sort of tech stack are you working with? understand if some of it’s sensitive info, but would be really interesting to see any elements of the horizontally scalable solution you must have needed to build…

    Ta

  3. Thanks jgadsbypeet, we’re glad you like the site. The TfL Online team are responsible for this with our framework of suppliers. We have a good relationship with the Government Digital Service (GDS) and we’re aware of the good work they do, but they were not involved in this project. We’ll be talking more about the technical elements of the project in later posts so check back for the detail over the coming few weeks.

    • even better to see two departments pushing user centric design independent of each other in that case! will look forward to seeing the technical information later on…

  4. Not sure why so much of the above-the-fold is dominated by a photo for the Emirates Air Line. Presumably that will rotate with other ‘features’ but the principle of using so much of the initially visible site for effectively advertising a feature is questionable. I’m much more interested in the service statuses than clicking through to something else, and if I miss the fact a line is down for whatever reason then the site hasn’t done it’s job. I also think that burying options underneath ‘More’ is counterproductive. How can a ‘quick link’ be quick when you have to click something else to get them? And since you already have those links just above the fold what’s the point?

    For the sake of a cleaner interface you’re also dropping certain elements that are important. The current status update tells me what is going on now, with a time telling me how current it is. It also has tabs for ‘now’, ‘later’ and ‘this weekend’. The last option is particularly important to me given I live on a line that is regularly being closed for upgrades at the weekend right now. I think you should also give extra prominence to maps as that is a really important part of the site for visitors.

    The site also seems to lack definition, with a lot of washed out colouring – for example the buttons and boxes of the ‘plan a journey’ box. As someone who has worked with people who have poor eyesite, it’s better to have very clearly defined elements to the page – darkly outlined boxes, clear dropdowns. One big improvement would be to colour the ‘plan a journey’ section in the same dark grey as elsewhere, which would really highlight the text entry boxes, and rather than a partial arrow within the box itself, change it so it looks more like a dropdown.

    And I hope you’re going to be implementing some sort of bus countdown feature with favourite stops so that I can quickly check when my bus is going to arrive?

    • Thanks for your feedback. I can respond to a few of the points you’ve raised…

      We are intending to include links to Now Later etc within the status board on the homepage, and are working on that functionality at the moment.

      The prominence of different features on the page is something that we’ve experimented with lots. It is particularly challenging because the site is a responsive design, and the layout needs to shift on the many different device sizes there are out there. We’ve found in user testing that even on smaller devices where the “Fold” can be higher on the page users are still easily able to scroll and navigate to things either beneath the promo image or in the header menu. The links in the ‘More’ menu are most useful when a user wants to get to something else on the site from a location other than the home page. Most of the key things that people come to do on the site are shown on the homepage.

      We are working on improved maps, they’ll be going live the next couple of months, as well as better content for visitors generally.

      The site is aiming to be AAA compliant, and we are completing extensive accessibility testing which is ongoing. So there will be accessibility improvements to come.

      Your other comments have also been made by other users via the feedback form, and we are working on making general improvements across the site. We’ll be doing a few ‘round up’ posts to let customers know what changes we’re making as a result of feedback so keep an eye out for those.

      And yes! You will be able to personalise the site, adding your favourite bus stops – giving you live departure and status information for each stop, at a glance, from the homepage.

  5. Am I missing something? I have just looked up a journey that involves an 8 minute walk at the other end. Fine, but where is the map that is provided by clicking on a small box on the side? Or do I now have to carry the A-Z again?

    Also, is this new site going to carry the information concerning travel outside the Greater London region, to say Welwyn, with the appropriate Oyster use factored in and where and when you need to buy add-on fares and how much that will cost along with links to purchase sites?

    The biggest problem with the old site is that it simply does not give info on destinations outside the Greater London Area even though they are very close to London and cannot be reached without using TFL. Unless there is a complete integration of services for a radius at least thirty, and probably fifty miles, outside the designated Greater London area, given todays commuting patterns, the site revamp will not add much.

  6. Being of a moderate intelligence I never had any problems finding what I needed on the old site. The links quite clearly showed what they did. Now the new site…what 3 year old with a box of brightly coloured crayons designed it? It glares, it is blocky and hard on the eye especially on HD screens, I keep expecting Janet & John to appear and talk to me like a child. I have not seen a website like this since the early designs of the 90′s. I actually find it quite an affront that people who design these things believe they have to dumb everything down to this level.

  7. Why does the national Rail status board prioritise services in Wales, and relegate services in London south of the river right to the bottom? Surely people are more likely to want to know about Carshalton than Carmarthen? (TfL is supposed to serve those of us south of the river too you know!)
    And the Tube status map does not work on older browsers – all we get is a random list of stations. Was the new site not tested against all commonly used browsers? If not, why not?

  8. Thanks for your comment Kristine. Your feedback is really important to us as we work towards completing the new website and the final completed version of the new Journey Planner. I’ve passed on your comments to the team responsible. At this stage a revised accessibility dataset for website and developer use is being arranged so this may contribute to an improvement in the display of accessibility options. Check back here for regular updates!

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