The Big Chip Awards were founded in 1997 and are the largest digital awards outside London, and the longest running in the UK. The fabulous awards evening has become a calendar highlight for the Northern digital and technology industry. The awards are renowned for their high standards of objectivity and integrity, judged by a distinguished panel of experts. So, as you can imagine, we are honoured to have been shortlisted for the Best Public Sector Project award this year. Here is our story, which we shared with the judges.
At this very moment, thousands of people are making their way across Greater Manchester. Many will walk or cycle and many more will be part of the 225-million bus and 30-million tram rides each year. Greater Manchester has the largest economy outside London and is growing quickly. So Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) decided to reimagine their website. Their vision was to deliver an informative, intuitive, mobile-first site for everyone across the region. As a digital agency we collaborated with TfGM to create the inclusive and beautiful beta.tfgm.com. This new service is already helping the people of Greater Manchester, irrespective of age, ability, and digital literacy.
TfGM’s story is a familiar one within the public sector. It’s a public organisation conceived in a non-digital age. In today’s world of internet searches and journey planner apps, TfGM wanted to tackle head on how they could evolve to satisfy un-met user needs.
But in the age of Google and CityMapper, why do TfGM even need a new website?
To answer this question, the joint Valtech and TfGM team had to get out of the office. We engaged with people at bus stops, train stations, on trams, cycling clubs and on streets of Greater Manchester. We gathered insights from thousands of people. And we discovered that whilst the Googles and CityMappers were good, they just don’t meet the needs of the people of Greater Manchester. When it comes to accessibility, and understanding the complexities of commuting across the ten boroughs, one-size-fits-all apps fall short.
It was clear that only a local service and design identity could satisfy these needs. Inclusivity, accessibility, and a sense of being "made in Manchester, for Manchester" were critical. In short, it had to be owned by a local, trusted brand - TfGM.
Using Lean UX techniques such as assumption mapping and hypothesis driven development, our team prototyped ideas, testing them with real users. Together we decided to only invest in developing features proven to meet user needs. This is an important approach, as many organisations waste money building features that are never used.
A key objective was to make the service highly accessible. With this in mind, we built in developing and testing for accessibility needs from the outset. The team also worked closely with the Disability Design Reference Group throughout the project. Crucially, this meant conducting testing with people with real world accessibility needs.
The result is an accessible, responsive, mobile-first digital experience. A service built in close collaboration with the people of, and visitors to, Greater Manchester. Together, we have built a truly mobile first digital service that has its roots firmly in this fantastic city. It’s been designed for the people who live there and for the people who are just passing through.
We all have our fingers crossed here at Valtech for when the winners are announced at tonight’s ceremony. Best of luck to everyone shortlisted!
Visit the site here: https://beta.tfgm.com