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Metro Redesigning Its Web Site

Metro, like many of the world's transit system, conveys a lot of information to its riders via the Internet. I hardly ever take a trip without using the Trip Planner or checking a bus schedule or looking at next train arrival times.

But Web sites, like newspapers, need to get freshened up every so often so they present the most relevant information in the clearest possible way.

The transit authority is planning to relaunch its Web site on Monday. For those of you familiar with the current site, this will look vastly different and much friendlier. For those who haven't gone online to check transit information, I think you'll find it very useful to check out.

After you see it next week, send your thoughts to me at I'm planning to review it on an upcoming Commuter page in The Post.

My first look at a test version left these impressions: The new version will be much less oriented toward transit authority bureaucracy and more oriented toward riders. It takes advantage of improvements in Web technology, including video. The home page is all on one screen. There's no more crawl across the top showing the service alert, but the new spot for alerts is much color-coded and much easier to understand at a glance.

Fewer clicks are necessary to drill down to the information you're after. Looks like a maximum of three. The Trip Planner presentation is clearer. The station information you're most likely to want immediately will click up as you move your mouse across the system map.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 4, 2008; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Do you have a sense from this upgrading of how close WMATA is to integrating scheduling info with Google Transit?

I kept hearing it was "coming" but Lena Sun seems to think otherwise (which was the first I'd heard of that particular problem):

Posted by: blackasphalt | December 4, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Will there be a Blackberry/iPhone friendly mobile site as well?

Posted by: nocando | December 4, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

There already is a mobile site. Unless you mean to ask if it will be updated as well, or if it will continue to work after the update. I use it on my BB everyday. I hope that it will still function.

Posted by: dkf747 | December 4, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: I don't have any information more current than Lena's about getting Metro onto Google Maps. Can tell you that the redesigned Metro site makes very good use of Google Maps to help riders find things around the stations.

And didn't get to look at the redesign on a handheld device of any sort, so I can't review them for you, but the Metro IT team says that many of the features I'm describing here will work well on handhelds.

Posted by: rtthomson1 | December 4, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The metro mobile site, is already very good. Very clean so it loads quickly you, go right to the next train info and you get the realtime display. I use it everytime I take the metro. Information is power. Do I have time to dawdle and maybe grab a paper, or do I have to rush to make the train. Public transportation is sooo much better when you cut out the wait for the train time. Walk into the station and right on to your train.

Posted by: cremuzzi | December 4, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

"makes very good use of Google Maps to help riders find things around the stations."

I like this as I think google maps is pretty superior to any of the other web based map systems. Questiont though, will they still have a link to the Station Masters maps on each station's information page? I always liked these because they have an actual diagram of the where the entrances/exits for the stations are located, as well as label points of interest. Google often doesn't get the "M" in the right spot, or doesn't have 1 for each entrance/exit. And not all important buildings/points of interest are labeled on google maps.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | December 4, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: TerpsGirl, I agree with you about the value of the StationMasters maps. They weren't included in the version of the Web site redesign that I saw. And I asked Metro's IT team to consider retaining them, because they do offer guidance you don't find on the Google Maps. They said they would consider doing that.

Posted by: rtthomson1 | December 4, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

The mobile site could be improved. It takes too many clicks to get info. If you type something wrong, or it doesn't recognize what you type, some list of "did you mean" comes up that are not even close to what you tried to type. You should be able to s3elect stations from a list when planning a trip. etc... I do like the mobile site, but it does need a bit of improvement.

Posted by: dkf747 | December 5, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I think there might be some confusion on the mobile site. There is a mobile site, but it seems to only work on older phones that use the WAP protocol.

iPhones, for example, can't view it. My Treo 700w could/can, but it had an annoying problem of locking the entire phone onto Caps Lock mode until rebooting.

Older and less advanced phones (and I don't meant that pejoratively) seem to still work, I guess?

Posted by: blackasphalt | December 5, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I think if you have a Blackberry, you will have trouble viewing the site as well. I had trouble viewing it on my BB Curve.

Sonya Armfield

Posted by: sonyaarmfield | December 8, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

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