The Brief

We won a competitive tender to deliver a responsive website for the initiative and a journey planning tool to support it. The core vision was to decrease single-occupancy car journeys in Kent. To achieve this, the campaign was aimed at the promotion of smarter ways to travel.

Getting Started

Through our tender response, we’d already laid out a general plan of attack for the project. But this was written blind in many respects so it was important to spend some time really getting to know the team delivering the initiative and the wider landscape. Funding for the project was coming from the Department for Transport (DfT). The website was just one part of a wider strategy, so it was important to understand how we slotted into the other activity.

Beginning with the Vision

At a high level, the aim of “reducing single occupancy car journeys” seems clear but the reality of changing travel habits of the Kent residents is a tough challenge. We began with various Trello boards to help us map out the types of people we could target - commuters, school-run parents, one-off travellers. We then had to work out how to sell alternative transport options to these users by devising campaign ideas.

Campaign Led

While the tender had focused on the journey planner as the core aspect of the development, we took time to explore campaigns Kent Connected could use to help promote the message and hence draw people to the site. Simply promoting a journey planner had limited chance of attracting users and even less of outlining the message around Kent Connected’s aims.

We proposed initially targeting the largest audience - commuters. We devised a campaign around opening commuters’ eyes to the alternatives. We did this through facts, trivia and relevant messaging to trigger commuters to consider a more sustainable travel method to their workplace.

An Effective Journey Planner

A big part of the project was the journey planner. This needed to allow users to plan a journey from A to B, with an emphasis on promotion of more sustainable options for that journey. We explored use of datasets provided by KCC as well as open source options. In the end we decided to use Google Maps data to power the journey planning tool and lay some roadworks data (from KCC) over this. We found the Google Maps data to offer the best real time traffic info and logical route options. It was important for us to make the user experience of the tool marry with the website messaging. To promote greener travel we used calculations to show health benefits and pollution stats for travel options to better inform users around choices.

We also took a deliberate decision not to lead with maps on the planner where a journey was by public transport. It’s so often the default view with a tool like this but with the tool predominantly aimed at Kent Residents who know the likely journey they’ll be planning, we felt it better to focus on the journey steps. Also, from experience with user testing on other projects, we know not all users are comfortable with maps.

However, for journeys where a map is of more use, we switched to show the options on a map-based display. For example where cycling is an option, a map and elevation display works best.

An Evolving Website

The Kent Connected web presence was a new site and was part of a wider campaign. With this in mind it’s important we monitor usage of the site and how it delivers for users. We are already making various improvements, based on how users are interacting with the content on the site.