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In February 2007, FirstGroup plc announced the acquisition of Laidlaw International Inc, the leading operator of school and inter- city bus transportation and supplier of public transit services in North America. This massive development within the business required an extension to the existing website, adding another link to the homepage, which only made the user experience more confusing. Consequently, in October 2007 FirstGroup took the strategic decision to redesign their website and make it more usable for customers and stakeholders alike.
The FirstGroup business was growing rapidly at this time, and with the increase in the number and size of businesses within the Group a key objective was to develop a clearly branded, scalable website with a clever and strategic Information Architecture. The need to provide a site that met the client’s criteria and their customers needs, whilst committing to measurable KPIs and delivering against clear objectives was paramoun. The new design we finally created would be in complete contrast to the existing site and to all FirstGroup’s competitors.
We simplified everything, stripping back the existing multiple links and Calls to Action to deliver four, clearly delineated routes from which a user can choose. However, as always with Spider, research underpinned everything, and specifically we recognised the need to employ user testing.
Following our suggestion, FirstGroup.com commissioned a well respected user testing agency. Together, we looked at various user testing routes including online surveys, eye-tracking, gaze-plotting, heat-mapping, competitor analysis, focus groups and interviews. We wanted:
- More information about current website visitor demographics
- To determine if users could access all the information they required quickly and effectively
- To compare alternative designs for our new homepage design to find the most effective
- To determine ease of use, effectiveness of navigation and perspective of brand through various tasks
Our research and testing delivered a user-focused solution for the client and helped the design team create a new homepage and Information Architecture that would deliver outstanding results.
Bus users include many people with disabilities and the need for all sites to deliver all accessibility guidelines has never been clearer. With this in mind, we set out to attain the highest standard possible through a creative and innovative partnership.
Our web accessibility testing service is an area in which Spider excels. It combines a full technical audit with rigorous disability user testing. FirstGroup.com has been awarded an “Accessible” classification by the Shaw Trust Website Accessibility Accreditation Service, which offers a fully comprehensive web accessibility audit.
Unique visitors have increased by 32%, which we attribute to the improvement in optimisation as the site is now ranking higher for more keywords and more users are able to find the website easily.
Page views have increased by a staggering 90% and the feedback shows that more people are engaging with the site and interested in finding out more information. Pages per visit have therefore also increased, this time by 45%.
The all important bounce rate has dropped dramatically, now down 44% on the pre-launch figures. As expected, average time on the site has also increased, this time by 25%.