Transport for London (TfL) is the integrated body responsible for London’s transport system. It implements the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and its responsibilities include: Buses, London Underground, managing the Congestion Charge and maintaining main roads and all London traffic lights.
Following the approval of the London Freight Plan by the TfL board in October 2007, TfL wanted to create a freight information portal – a single website for providing information about delivering in London, aimed at transport managers and other stakeholder groups.
The main objectives of the project were to:
• Gain a clear understanding of user goals, needs and priorities
• Assess customer perceptions of and aspirations for the portal
• Identify any gaps in online services relevant to core users
• Gather results to inform project planning
We carried out a comprehensive user-centered design project to help ensure that the portal offered coordinated services and information to the freight industry in a way that was fully aligned with user needs and expectations.
The project began with a user research and requirements gathering phase which aimed to provide TfL with detailed insights into users’ expectations and requirements. This consisted of 9 stakeholder interviews with Freight and TfL staff and 10 diary studies and interviews with transport managers across a variety of businesses. The diary study process was particularly innovative, with 2 studies carried out solely through Twitter.
We uncovered some very useful insights that fed into the overall portal strategy. Key tasks for users included schedule and route planning as well as checking road restrictions and current traffic conditions. The general consensus was that the portal should be clearly for and about freight and road users. These results led to the following suggested content and functionality:
• Easily accessible library of existing content and services offered by TfL
• London freight map
• Live traffic and roads information
• Route planner
Following this, and working collaboratively with TfL, we created the information architecture for the site, designing wireframes for key pages within the portal. We conducted usability testing on these to establish how easy it was for users to perform key tasks. We then made amendments to the wireframes, as well as providing recommendations for additional site improvements based on the results of the testing. These included:
• Clarifying the site proposition
• Making it clear which incident updates are from TfL and which are from drivers
• Renaming some of the site sections
Finally, based on both user requirements and business goals we created a full roadmap for the freight information portal. This document provided TfL with full guidance on how the portal could and should develop over time.
Following the research and development process, the brand new London Freight website was launched, offering an easy-to-use resource for freight information, fully based on user requirements. The site has allowed TfL to:
• Enable users to share best practice
• Reduce administrative burdens
• Improve efficiency
• Offer coordinated services to the freight industry