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Metro Unveils New Web Site

It's got the same address, www.wmata.com, but the transit authority's revamped Web site has a completely different look today.

I think the first thing you'll notice is that the colors are better, and it has a much cleaner appearance. So the appearance alone is an improvement.

But as you look around and get familiar with the setup, you should also find that it's friendlier and more useful to riders. The site always contained a great deal of useful information, but it could be a bit difficult to find the right page.

The home page now makes it easier to understand where the most useful information can be found. Much more of what you're looking for is available on the first click and there's very little that would take more than three clicks to find.

Try this: From the top three buttons across the top, click on Maps & Stations to see the color-coded map of the lines. Notice that when you click on the name of a station, a box pops up with much of the information a rider would need immediately. The display includes the current service alerts for that station and the arrival times of the next few trains.

Click again on the name of the station, and a full page of information about that station appears. Here's the page for Metro Center. The new style makes good use of icons and space, so that the information catches the eye more quickly. Also, the new display of the Google Map is very helpful. But you can still find the StationMasters map by clicking on the familiar icon.

Roam around the site and tell me what you think. (Either here, or by writing to me at drgridlock@washpost.com.) I'm planning to review the sites features on this coming Sunday's Commuter page in The Post. I haven't tested the site on a handheld decive, so I'd like to hear those reviews as well.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 8, 2008; 8:23 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

They should have kept page content narrow enough so no horizontal scrolling is required (1024x768 is the minimum in Windows XP and the page is far too wide for that).

Vertical scrolling is one thing, but horizontal scrolling is extremely annoying - I don't know how they let something basic like that get by them.

Posted by: zizzy | December 8, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I found the new Metro Web-site to be very easy to navigate. It is well organized with the essential information readily available, and I like the look of the graphics and videos. (I did not encounter any horizontal scrolling issue as mentioned in the comment posted earlier.)

Posted by: jlardenmd | December 8, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I didn't notice the scrolling problem either but my resolution is set at 1280 X 800. I think overall the site is organized well and it's easy to find the things I usually use on the website (trip planner, bus timetables, metro timetables, and the service alerts). I really like that the service alerts are no longer in scroll format but all displayed in a single box.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | December 8, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Overall the site is a vast improvement over the old one. The mobile version has the same functionality as before, but splash of color has been added as well as keypad numbered menu options.

Posted by: stevern77 | December 8, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

On the Trip Planner, you still can't enter a departure time like "8". It forces you to enter "08:42".

Apart from that nit, it looks great!

Posted by: troy5 | December 8, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

zizzy:

The CSS for the site indicates that at it's widest, the site is 924 px wide. As an Internet developer, I can tell you that this is well within the safety zone for a screen width of 1024 px.

The only way I can conceive you get horizontal scrolling at a screen resolution width of 1024 px is if perhaps you keep sidebars open - is that the case?

This is a solid redesign, in that they changed the navigation so that is oriented towards the user. However, there is one thing I find exceptionally annoying.

I love the way they have added a lot of information to the rail map. But the plain map (i.e. - the one that doesn't overlay Google maps) couldn't have been redrawn?

The picture of the rail map looks grainy and ill-rendered. For such a new, slick look, it's a jarring disconnect.

Also on the Bus maps/timetables... I know the overall route map is different than the individual timetable maps. But it wouldn't have killed them to include links in the actual text back and forth to the respective pages, instead of forcing the user back to the navigation. People new to the system (or simply new to the particular routes serving an area) would be better served, I think.

Well done in general, though. It's nice to have all the major information pieces on the home page and the graphic design is clean and simple.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 8, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

All I get is ERROR Service Unavailable. I've also notice that I don't receive alerts on my BB. Does the site even work?

Posted by: DKH7 | December 8, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Not sure what kind of trouble you are having regarding ERROR service unavailable. I had no trouble setting up alerts for my Blackberry, it worked perfectly and was very easy. Also, I used the trip planner and it was terrific, gave me different trip options, the fare, etc. All in all, very easy and no problems. Your Blackberry issue may have to do with your phone service provider.

Posted by: ronnib | December 8, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I like the look and feel of the new site, but I really wish they would upgrade the bus features. I would love bus maps that are actually useful, indicating cross streets and including all stops. Or at the very least, timetables in html, instead of making me download a pdf for each route.

Posted by: oceanchild | December 8, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The site looks good, but no longer works on my Blackberry. I really need the mobile site bad. I realy hope that they fix this thing asap!

Posted by: dkf747 | December 8, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

I think you need to go to wmata.com/mobile, which is the site where you can set up your mobile device. That is the site for accessing wmata mobile services. You'll find that will work well for you.

Posted by: ronnib | December 8, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I really like the new Metro website. The old version was difficult to navigate and unpleasant to use, but the remodeled version is really easy to use. It's a great improvement.

Posted by: mightykevbo | December 9, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I do like the redesign, but was frustrated that my old bookmarks were broken in the switch. Why should the address of a station page have changed? But it's a one-time inconvienience.

Posted by: stevis23 | December 9, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

>>>>
"I think you need to go to wmata.com/mobile, which is the site where you can set up your mobile device. That is the site for accessing wmata mobile services. You'll find that will work well for you."

Posted by: ronnib | December 8, 2008 10:49 P<<<<

Umm, where did you think I went? I was talking about the mobile site. Just tried it again. "Error 403 Forbidden" is what I get.

Posted by: dkf747 | December 9, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I thought I should revisit and mention that it now works on my BB! I like it better than the old mobile site.

Posted by: dkf747 | December 10, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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