I’ve long admired, rome2rio, an impressive international travel search engine that enables journey planning across air, ferries, intercity transit, and local transit around the world. The site uses GTFS data for public transit. rome2rio has announced improvements to their transit directions feature on their blog (excerpts and links below).
It’s this final leg and the complexity of intra-city transit that prompted us to look into how we display this information and what could be done to improve the experience for our users. After some team discussion, we decided to tackle two key design elements that would be beneficial to our users – transit line colours and transit line names.
Why did we choose these two elements? Let’s take for example the New York City MTA, a world famous transit system with an iconic colour and symbol scheme. It also has 34 services and 469 stations – a daunting prospect for a new visitor to the city that never sleeps. Before we undertook our redesign project we treated line and station information in the same way that we treated other transport information on the site. By doing this we failed to take advantage of the visual language of colour used in real life signage. The differences seem subtle but have an enormous impact on the readability of our directions – particularly on the move.