08 December 2009

[design] The Cherriots Transit Map

2273.The graphic look for Salem-Keizer's public transportation system - the Cherriots – have changed, and they're looking more slick and together.

The website itself, http://www.cherriots.org, has gotten a major makeover. The old site didn't have major problems with usage, but it looked very dated when compared to sites like that of LTD and TriMet. I'm not necessarily a fan of change for change's sake in web design – one credo I stick to is, if it works, it doesn't need fixing – but it was well past time for a site refresh. The new design fills that bill magnificently.

Navigation is vastly improved, with the long list on the left replaced my a much shorter list, with animated flyout lists. Other services are quickly indentified in the icon-driven lineup on the upper right: the big What's New! in the middle is right where you're going to see it and go right to it.

In the past, I thought the Cherriots route map needed a great deal of improvement. The new design brings the improvment, though it may take a few minutes for you to figure out what it's trying to say to you:

You can get a pdf copy of this directly from Cherriots here
, and the routes and schedules page is at the end of this link. I'll hit what I see are the high points.

The good:
  1. The map is clear and simple despite including more information (the local streets are in a light gray).
  2. Using multiple colors for routes can actually bring confusion. They well-chosen colors here are skillfully chosen, and contribute to understanding.
  3. The three new levels of service (Frequent Service, "Peak-Hour" Service, and Standard Service) are noted two ways: with lines of varying weights (the ones for Frequent routes stand out because they're much thicker), and different route-number symbols (a diamond for Frequent, a square for "Peak-Hour", and a circle for Standard). Together you get a quick visual reference as where you'll need to go where you're more likely to get a bus more quickly (well, in Salem terms, anyway)
  4. The services that actually go out of town – the 1X commuter route to Wilsonville and the 2X route to Grand Ronde – are included as part of the information. In the past, Cherriots kind of floated in space, connecting to nothing in the maps.
The bad:
  1. Too much Eras Bold. Eras Bold forms the names on the route list and also supplies the text for the line key. Eras Bold is a beautiful font, but here I would have gotten something a bit less pretty – say, Myriad works very well in these situations, or even Helvetica Neue.
  2. The route-frequency symbolism, while it works, I find awkward. Most significantly, the three shapes of the route-number icons just seem busy. I think the same thing could have been accomplished by keeping the same shape for all route number symbols, but making, say, the Standard service routes reversed – filled with white instead of filled with color, with the shape and the number carrying the color. It communicates very well for TriMet for the purpose of peak-hour commuter routes.
  3. The term "Peak-Hour" service for the second frequency level is a bit awkward as well. Cherriots "Peak-Hour" service is defined as 30 or 60 minute frequency between 6 am and 9 pm. That's not just peak-hour – that's the whole day.
In whole, though, the redesign of the map is useful, informative, and long-overdue. It looks good and communicates well, so in all, I'd term it a success, and call it well-done.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

No comments: