Transport for London

The Brief

The Transport for London® website receives over 250 million visits a year and provides a core service to its customer base of busy metropolitan travellers. The organisation decided to re-develop its website over an 18-month project during 2013/14.

There were two central goals for the new website. Firstly, to give the website visitor more control over the user experience, and secondly, to make sure that the website worked well on a large range of devices.

TfL is strongly committed to making sure that its website is inclusive for everyone, regardless of their needs. Test Partners has an exclusive agreement to provide all digital accessibility services for TfL and we were integral in helping them fulfil their ambitions.

Our Approach

We began by reviewing the initial paper-based (or wireframe) designs. We provided coding guidelines so that we could help the developers avoid potential accessibility traps.

Next we audited the coded pages against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – the industry standard for assessing website accessibility. Our assessments identified accessibility failures and listed a number of remedial actions. The audit and remediation was an iterative process where we worked closely, and in an agile process, with the developers. After receiving our recommendations, TfL adjusted the code accordingly. At this stage we also tested pages with various assistive technologies and browsers. This research revealed that the pages did not behave the same way universally. We made recommendations based on those findings to make sure that all users would have a similarly good experience in using the site.

WCAG audits are excellent at identifying technical accessibility issues but do not answer the question, “what’s the website like to use?” To answer that, we needed to test the website with people. We worked with people with widely differing degrees of experience, expertise and accessibility considerations. Each person was asked to complete several ‘real world’ tasks and the participant explained to us the easy or difficulty of the task. Following this we analysed the results and provided recommendations to improve the user experience.

There were several iterations of this cycle so that every time significant changes were made, the pages were re-tested.

The Result

The new website provides a significantly improved experience for people with disabilities. Typical feedback has been, “A lot better. Far, far better than the current version” and, "Simple to use, extremely useful, very, very good". TfL has benefited from increased customer satisfaction and greater use of the site. This has led to reduced call centre costs and an enhancement of the TfL brand. The high level of accessibility that the new website provides is in line with both TfL’s legal duties and its corporate social responsibility commitments.