A site as user-friendly as its service

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District isn’t just a bus system — it’s an award-winning community resource. And the MTD’s web presence isn’t just a site — it’s a tool that gets thousands of Champaign-Urbana citizens where they’re going, every day. 

Visit the new MTD site

CLIENT Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD)

Content strategist Lindsey Gates-Markel started with usability testing, observing real users as they tried some common tasks on the existing MTD site (such as finding fares and planning trips), so we could experience first-hand the challenges that users found most frustrating. 

She also created a quick online questionnaire for bus riders that asked a few questions about their habits, such as how often they rode the bus and how they found their routes. In addition, the questionnaire gathered general demographic information to make sure we talked to a diverse group.

Based on what we learned from the questionnaire responses, Lindsey interviewed MTD riders over the phone and in person to dig into people’s more personal experiences with MTD. She also spent an afternoon on campus, talking to people at busy bus stops (pictured) to get more immediate feedback from bus riders “in the moment.” 

To share the testing and interview findings with the MTD team, Lindsey created a series of experience maps (pictured) that visualized the frustrations, joys, questions, and quotes from real users, grouped by central themes or features. With this feedback, we were able to prioritize sections and features of the site to focus on improving first.

After defining our priorities, Lindsey and graphic designer Matt Sharkey worked side-by-side, mostly on whiteboards (pictured), building graphic design and content design simultaneously based on what they had learned about users’ needs. Lindsey created a wireframe to show the reimagined navigation and hierarchy, and Matt created a clickable graphic design to showcase new functionalities.

Of particular focus was the homepage, where we hoped to incorporate all the search options (which took up three text fields on the existing homepage) into one text field. We knew that if we could find a solution, it would lessen the number of choices a new rider, or new site user, would have to make in trying to get from Point A to Point B. Our MTD group was game to experiment, and the final product works exactly how we’d hoped.

We visited community members in their offices, where they accessed the MTD site every day, to observe the usability of the new design and gain feedback. After making those changes, we delivered the final design and code to the folks at MTD. After MTD staff developed the site, it went live in August of 2018.

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