The (no longer very) new official site for public transport in Singapore has been online for about six months now, and while it still lacks some of the functionality, it’s an interesting site to look at from a design perspective. We at Supershapes did a small presentation for the LTA about brand design integration for public transport, and this site redesign was a part of a bigger presentation that I may post at some point in the future.
What first struck me when I looked at publictransport.sg is that it doesn’t look anything like the design that has been (sort of) implemented through the public transport network of Singapore. It looks more like IDA’s Wireless@SG, though it might be the name and the misused @-sign that seems to be ever so popular on government websites and condominiums (like, unfortunately, mine). This is not public transport at Singapore but public transport in Singapore.
So what has happened here is what seems to be happening in general when agencies develop sites, they create a completely new look and feel, disregarding the fact that it dilutes the brand, the information experience and thus confusing the users. The “symbol for the integrated public transport system” is strangely missing, the colours are green but completely the wrong shade, and they use a blue that’s almost LTA purple, yet not. They also refrain from using the official bus and train icons, and have instead created a new set of icons that has no reference to the information system already in place.
Lastly, of course, there are a lot of visual glitches, strange features and no integrated journey planner (although I hear some people are working on that). I also think the map is way too prominent for something that is not very useful in that sense. So while I was prepping some other stuff in the public transport brand presentation, I decided to take a day to look at how I would improve publictransport.sg.
- Starting with the obvious – the top. As previously mentioned, the site should look and feel like the design already in place on maps, time tables and other information design for public transport in Singapore, using the symbol, the right colours and the right fonts. That doesn’t mean you can’t give it its own identity, yet still retain the recognition from the rest of the network.
- Navigation. I don’t quite understand the general favoring uppercase text in the navigation, since it really decreases legibility not vice versa. I also think the structure of the site could be thought through more thoroughly.
- The Journey Planner. Well, this is not available on the site yet, and the only link is to the previously mentioned one that TransitLink has. Yet, this will probably be the most important feature on the future site, and should be in the most prominent location.
- The promo space (picture borrowed from Flickr, can’t find the URL right now). Here’s a great chance to create some brand value for the network. Instead of highlighting the service aspect, this space could be used to promote the more emotional values that you want to be associated with public transport. Like, in this case, discovery, and how you can explore Singapore with the help of the public transport network. I’ve borrowed this idea from sl.se, the Stockholm Public Transport Network website.
- The two promotion spaces. This is where you’d promote your new services or features.
- Realtime Information. There’s a description there already, but basically, it’d be nice to be able to just key in my location and see the real time information for buses or trains.
- Service Interruptions. It might be good to know if you’re shutting down Orchard Road over CNY, if there’s a huge traffic jam affecting the network or if Bus 167 is being reverted.
- “I need some help with…” might be a good way to pick out a few FAQs and link deeper into the site structure.
- Latest News. Well, this is being used rather poorly at the moment. People using this site are probably not at all interested in news regarding the LTA and its tenders. Instead this should feature news related to public transport.
- More services. A place to collect the MRT maps, the (somewhat hard to use) Key Bus Services Maps and other resources for download. That doesn’t mean that we should have unlabeled pdf links on the front page though.
That’s it for now. Of course I have a couple of more ideas for the subpages, and this is just a one day sketch that I thought would never see the light of day, but these are some of the basics that I think they should consider if and when they decide to redesign publictransport.sg.
And Supershapes and I’ll of course be more than willing to come in and help you out, LTA!