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Poll results on mobile site improvements: optimized performance and saving favourites rank high

Two weeks ago I posted a poll asking for your input on how to improve our mobile site.

Everyone was allowed to vote for as many features as they liked, and after 125 votes, optimized performance (71%) and the ability to save favourite stops and routes (70%) ranked as the highest priorities.

Trip planning (66%) and enhanced maps (51%) weren’t far behind. And fare info (26%), points of interest and special events) (22%), social media (19%), feedback (15%) and other (14%) brought up the end of the pack.

Now once more I’d like to stress the big caveat for this: be aware we won’t be able to do everything suggested, owing to budget and development constraints! But everyone’s input into this question is still heavily valued, as it provides huge insight into what you feel the priorities for the site should be. And the comments of course provided illuminating feedback on how the mobile site is used in real life and where it is wanting!

For example, Graham Ballantyne and the vast majority of comments emphasized the performance issues that so many voted for as a priority.

Speed, speed, speed. Both the current m.translink.ca and the iPhone app (which is really just the website wrapped in an app) are horrendously slow. My most frequent use is to look up a stop number (usually to see when the #16 is *supposed* to arrive) and it’s far faster to text the stop number to 33333.

User interaction in the current site/app is also pretty bad; there’s often no indication that the the site is doing something. I stopped using it in favour of 33333 and the google maps app because I never knew what the site was doing.

But many highlighted an issue I didn’t capture on the poll—that of offline data access! Here’s JMV:

For what it’s worth, if I could speak for the iPod Touch members of the audience, it would be nice if the app could have some offline features. Without wifi or offline features, the app is unusable as you’re all well aware.

As an alternative, I have saved the full system map as a PDF on my iPod Touch, which has been one of the most handy things to have on hand. I view it with the free PDF viewer app called Transit Maps which I’ve mentioned before. There are lots of PDF viewers that would work though.

Further to this, I also think the ability to save and download a full PDF of each route map in the official app would be nice, but it would be ideal if this was an optional feature rather than a standard feature, to reduce app bloat.

Adrian pointed out another crucial feature: access to key service updates.

The other thing I want to point out is service updates. I see TransLink has now been using twitter for many of its transit alerts, and that’s great, but I think there should be some consistency here. I think TransLink should update both their twitter and service alert updates at the same time, and have these updates and alerts easily available on their mobile site, as well as at SkyTrain stations. That way, more people and informed earlier.

As with updates, if it has anything to do with a delay, TransLink should also try their best to estimate a delay in terms of number of minutes. People often think a delay is VERY long and tedious when they don’t realize the amount of additional time they need. But if they know how long they have to wait, the experience is a little better. It’s just like having RealTime information available: the amount of time it takes for me to wait for a train feels shorter when I know how long I have to wait.

Real-time data was another point that came up a lot: this project is DEFINITELY in the works and is tentatively slated to be complete in late 2011. So there’s that!

And just as a reminder: ;-) pointed out our Next Bus video that shows you how to get next bus times for specific buses at your stop. Have a look!

Thank you again to all who participated in this poll: it was very helpful and I will be passing its results on to our developer project team! Remember, March 2011 is the tentative launch date for the new mobile site: I will have more news to you as the project develops.


5 Comments

  • By Raymond, December 19, 2010 @ 12:08 am

    For the translink trip planning website, is it possible to add the ability to adjust the departure/arrival time at the results page? The current setup is quite annoying because addresses are not remembered on the form when you return to the search page.

  • By zack, December 19, 2010 @ 9:58 am

    That’s weird! I just clicked this website from TransLink’s web page and I was prompted with a message saying “Sorry! Page not found, the page you are looking for is not there.” So, then I tried to enter this site directly from the search engine; no problems there, but the latest post still isn’t working.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, January 4, 2011 @ 10:55 am

    zack: I think it’s fixed now. Was that the bus numbering post?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, February 11, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

    Raymond: uck — long time coming for this answer, but YES, this is a feature we are exploring! We are again working on continual improvements to the site so hopefully we will see this change soon.

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