Development of Traffic-Information Web-Site-Design Guidelines

Christopher Nowakowski, John Lenneman, Mark Kojima, and Paul Green

November, 1999

At least 30 major cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S. have implemented real-time, traffic-information web sites to provide pretrip traffic information. Although general web-site-design guidelines are plentiful, no design guidelines were found specific to traffic-information web sites.

This project used 4 methods to create and evaluate traffic-information web sites: (1) user analysis, (2) heuristic evaluation, (3) the use of web-design guidelines, and (4) user testing. The knowledge gained from these 4 steps was then combined to form a set of traffic-information web-site-design guidelines. A total of 8 general principles (e.g., consistency, readability, etc.) and 33 specific guidelines in 4 categories (site organization, site navigation, real-time traffic-information presentation, and real-time map colors symbols, and design) were created.

The heuristic evaluation of 7 traffic-information web sites revealed problems involving violations of consistency, visibility (as to where the user was and where he could go next), and flexibility or efficiency of use. User testing revealed problems with unexpected feature implementations, confusing icons, legends or instructions, and feature or formats that were difficult to use or frustrating.

Although there were strengths and weaknesses in each method, guidelines use and user testing were found to be the most beneficial methods given the likely resources available in the traffic management center to develop a traffic-information web site.

Graphical Abstract (.pdf) | UMTRI-99-30 Full Report (.pdf)


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