Four heads and one new website.

The new SBB website has survived its baptism of fire. Simone  has already shown you all of the new features and how the website has changed over the last 21 years. But how do you implement such a big project and who’s responsible for making sure the website goes live on time? Who decides where you can find what content? And last but not least, who programs the system so that each click takes you to the correct link?

What’s certain is that lots of employees and external partners have been working flat out for months on the new site so that you can now find the information you’re looking for even faster. For example, Sabrina, Joice, Bruno and Florian are only four people out of the many who worked on the new website. Here they give you a glimpse into how the new SBB website came about.

 

Joice Silva Loureiro, Digital Accessibility Product Manager.

What exactly were the main things you were involved in for the SBB.ch relaunch?

I’m responsible for making sure the content on the new website is accessible for all. A website is accessible when it can be experienced and used by people with a physical or mental disability. To do this, SBB adheres to the internationally recognised accessibility standards of the World Wide Web Consortium, the Web Content Accessibility Guideline 2.0. This means we’re designing our existing website content to be accessible, including graphics, PDFs, text, links and videos. I also train the SBB Web Editing Team who’ll have to make sure that web content is published in an accessible format in future.

For you as Digital Accessibility Product Manager, why was the redesign so urgently needed?

SBB is legally required to make all of its services accessible to all – including the digital ones. The old website wasn’t completely accessible and even the new one isn’t fully there yet at the moment. For example, there are PDFs which we haven’t been able to prepare yet. SBB is working towards getting web accessibility certification for SBB.ch by late 2017 and the relaunch will provide a good base for doing that. We’ll have to continue working to make the content accessible after the relaunch. There are also some software tweaks that we weren’t able to make before the relaunch.

What’s changed and how much better has that made the site for users with specific requirements for a website?

Users with specific needs access websites using special software and hardware which are called assistive technologies. These include screen readers and magnifying software which help blind people and people with severe visual impairment to perceive what’s on the computer screen. People with extremely limited movement use eye and voice control systems to use their computers. The content on SBB.ch has been prepared for people who use these technologies.

Users who do not have these specific requirements can use the site as normal but even they will benefit from using an accessible website because of the advantages of well-structured content, good keyboard usability and straightforward layout. Search engines can also find content more easily on accessible websites.

 

Bruno Spicher, Head of Digital Products and Projects.

Bruno, what exactly were the main things you were involved in for the SBB.ch relaunch?

As the Head of Digital Products and Projects, I assumed the role of “product owner”. So I kind of own the project (laughs) and among other things, I’ve been responsible for prioritising any tasks that crop up as well as looking after and professionally representing the various internal clients and stakeholders within SBB. It’s important to make sure the clients are always well looked after in big projects like this, then there’s a good chance the project will run smoothly. I also made sure that everyone involved received regular updates about how the project was progressing and developing.

Why was the redesign so urgently needed, in your view?

Our last website was launched in May 2011 and has seen better days. Over 20 percent of customers now access the website on their smartphones and are redirected to the mobile site from there. However, visitors can only find a fraction of our content on there and it can be annoying when certain content isn’t available. We’re taking this into account with the new website and providing content that’s been optimised for all devices. Also, we have always had to manage content for the website and for the mobile version separately, which is a time-consuming duplication of effort that will now be removed. We’ll continue to develop the website together with our customers who get involved in the SBB Community. Not everything has improved yet but we’re on the right track. Or, as the famous German Esso advert from the 80s put it so nicely: “There’s still a lot to do, let’s get on with it”.

 What are the main things that have changed and how much do they benefit SBB customers?

The new website has been re-optimised for all devices and the content will be displayed perfectly on any screen size. The design and content are inspiring and should get our clients clicking through and seeing what we have to offer. The sections “Station & services”, “Leisure & holidays” and “Timetable” in particular are much simplified compared with the old website and the content is clear and uncluttered. The design is based on the SBB Mobile app, which has a high level of brand recognition for customers. The redesigned webshop will go live at some point this year. In the meantime, a preview version is available. The site will also be accessible for all by the end of the year.

What’s your favourite feature on the new website or do you have a tip?

The feature I like the most is the “next best click element”. This element, it could be “Contact”, “Link”, “Downloads” or “Purchase”, is always visible and ready to click on; it stays on the page when you scroll up or down.

 

Sabrina Bigler, Digital Content Manager.

Sabrina, what exactly are the main things you’re involved in for the SBB.ch relaunch?

I’m responsible for the design concept and implementation in the Digital Business department. First of all I compiled a list of requirements for the new website and prepared them so the designers could use them to work out a design concept. We then worked with external partners to develop the design and interactive features and evaluated usability and user-friendliness with usability tests. Finally, the new designs and various different page types were implemented in the editing system. I made sure that the Content Managers, the colleagues responsible for updating the system’s content, had a user-friendly editing interface to work with. This required various rounds of approval, tests and training.

Why was the redesign so urgently needed, in your view?

Recent surveys on the current website showed that customers feel that our website is no longer up-to-date. The world of the Internet is very fast-moving, so it’s important to always be modern and current. That applies to security requirements and accessibility too (you can find out more about this in Joice’s profile). We can’t relax yet, we still have a lot of work to do. But we do have the basis for a modern, personalisable website for the next few years, which also fulfils accessibility requirements.

 

What are the main things that have changed and how much do they benefit SBB customers?

The most important change is definitely the responsive design. That means the new website display automatically fits a device’s screen size, whether on smartphones, tablets or desktop PCs. The user guidance has also been significantly simplified. The reasoning behind the design is to allow you to find relevant information faster because of the way it’s been restructured and its uniform format. And it’s not just the design that’s new and modern – there are technical innovations too. In the future, there’ll be a user account linked to the SwissPass. You log in once and you can get to your ticket in just three steps.

What’s your favourite feature on the new website or do you have a tip?

Apart from the really practical SBB clock at the bottom of the site (featuring the seconds hand with the original two-second delay), there are lots of little things that will be a nice surprise for users when they’re interacting with the site. But they should discover those for themselves. :-)

 

Florian Stürzinger, Art Director at Unic.

What exactly were the main things you were involved in for the SBB.ch relaunch?

As Art Director, I developed the visual concept – so everything apart from the timetable. After finalising the design, I also created the style guide for the new website. These are the set of design guidelines which describe how certain elements of the website should be constructed to ensure visual uniformity on the site.

Why was the redesign so urgently needed, in your view as the Art Director?

In a slight shift from the 2010 web design, SBB’s CI/CD has been redeveloped. Back then, the basic brand elements weren’t yet available. That meant the old website didn’t fit SBB’s current look any more. Not only that, but a website should be responsive nowadays, i.e. usable by any device with a browser.

What’s changed and how does that benefit SBB customers?

The SBB brand is now shown in a prominent and contemporary way on any device. Most of the content remains largely the same (unfortunately) but the most relevant information has been brought to the fore in the most focused way possible. The timetable has been significantly redesigned and improved and there is more focus on inspiring leisure and holiday offers.

 

 

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