Content With a Destination: DC’s Metro Launches New Site

With a mere month and a handful of days to go before Inauguration Day, and a record-busting onslaught of bus and train riders expected, Washington DC’s Metro has launched a new website.  Yesterday’s Washington Post included an interesting site review.  The Post article details the efforts of Suzanne Peck, Metro’s assistant general manager for information technology, to replace long text-heavy web pages and reorganize content to reduce the number of clicks.  The article also touches upon how the Metro site (and all transit sites) must meet the needs of locals, who might be considered expert site and system users, as well as visitors, who are probably newbies.  One way Metro meets this challenge is by calling out the newbie content with a bright “New to Metro” section in the easy-to-spot upper right corner of the home page.  Other things I like about the content writing at the new Metro site:

  • Concise yet detailed.  Check out the Parking page.  The ample headings and lists make this content easy to scan.  The transactional links, such as “Join a waiting list for reserved parking” make it possible for users to take action after reading.
  • Landing pages that do more than take up space. Unlike some content-free landing pages that force users to keep clicking, the tiny blurbs at the Fares landing page and the Getting Around landing pageactually offer specific information, including farecard rules and specific Metrobus fares.
  • A warm, personal tone. From the smiling photos of the Medial Relations staff to the personal pronoun-rich FAQ “Visit our homepage and look for the Trip Planner on the left-hand side of the page. Type in where you’re traveling from, where you’re traveling to, and the time of day you plan to travel…” the Metro site sounds like it was written by people and for people.

One grouchy comment:  Why oh why are the Metrobus maps in PDF?  And why did my browser seize every time I tried to download one?

FYI – the Washington Post site review includes screenshots of the old site.

Do you like the website of the transit system in your city?  If so, or if not, let us know why!

— Leslie O’Flahavan

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