[iRail] Using Miet 1: iRail.be 3.0

Greet Derudder greet at pimpajoentje.be
Mon Nov 21 21:16:41 UTC 2011

Hello everyone!

So here's what I'm thinking. Some of the things Pieter is naming in his
e-mail have actually occurred to me too while using the website, and I like
where he's going with it. But I've taken another look at the website and
purely design-wise, I think it's ok for now. It's not the most fantastic
mobile website in the history of mobile websites, but it's really not bad,
it does the job and it looks good. What could be changed is the
functionality, but a redesign of iRail.be is in my opinion not a priority
if we're thinking about what Miet could do.

>From the perspective of someone who looks more at the design side of things
than the code behind it (because unfortunately I don't know much about
that), and also keeping the whole branding thing in mind (iRail as a
brand/identity vs. iRail.be as the website in se), I think what we could
use most is a complete rethinking of the iRail style guide (huisstijl).
Because we don't really have one actually, and a clear and recognisable
brand identity is in my opinion almost just as important as the quality of
the products. (When I say style guide, I mean a logo, colors, fonts, and
other design elements that need to be uniform across the used media, but
also the concept/mission behind iRail, its values, goals, ... An example is
the style guide of Ghent
documented in detail on their website.)

If there is a style guide, it can easily be applied to everything that
sends out the message "hello, we're iRail and this is who/what we are": the
logo (!!), websites (irail.be, npo.irail.be, blog.irail.be, ...), letters,
invoices and other administrative paperwork, business cards (!), powerpoint
presentations, stickers and other merchandising, ... I personally think the
importance of a uniform style in any and all communication cannot be
stressed enough, it's what makes people remember and recognise iRail and
what helps them get a first idea of what iRail is. (And coincidentally, it
will also make life easier for other iRail people who won't have to come up
with a new design for everything they do, from letters to powerpoint
presentations and so on.)

I think now that Miet is here, it is the perfect opportunity to tackle this
task, and in the long run iRail could really benefit from Miets help in
this department! :-)

Best wishes,


On Sat, Nov 19, 2011 at 13:06, Pieter Colpaert <pieter.colpaert at gmail.com>wrote:

> Dear iRail people,
> We need to use Miet.
> For those who haven't read: Miet is a student graphic design who has to
> work with a non-profit for her last-year studies. In February I assume she
> has to present something on her work, so let's make it worthwhile.
> Which projects can use her help? Until Thursday I will try to launch some
> ideas on the mailinglist open for discussion. The first idea:
> iRail.be 3.0
> This website is our business card. It's not our most successful project,
> but as this is "iRail.be" we'll need to do something special with it.
> Low-level, on client side, I think these things might be done better:
>  * Full blown html5/jquery single page website
>  * RDFa ("gui 3.0") for query and result pages. By doing this we can say:
> This page gives The Web information about this place which happens to be a
> station.
> At mid-level we still lack:
>  * Support for vehicle information
>  * Integration with foursquare and other location based social networks
>  * "Tweet about your journey"
>  * Push messages for delays
> High-level, where Miet can help, we might need a lot of help into building
> something new and innovative from scratch. Don't think about technology,
> think about what you would like in an application for trains, and for
> bus/trams/planes/... later on. iRail.be doesn't get used a lot
> (200requests/day, in comparison to 4000 BeTrains requests/day on android).
> This gives us the opportunity to do something special here.
> What was I thinking about? A user centric mobile app. You can log in using
> your facebook, twitter or google account (openid/oauth). According to your
> current location and your previous use of iRail.be, you will be able to
> start typing your desired journey while we autocomplete according to a
> calculated probability of what you might mean. For instance if I'm
> somewhere in the vicinity of Ghent, and I'm typing G, Ghent sint pieters
> should be autocompleted in the "from" field. When I'm typing A in the "to"
> field, Antwerp Central station will be autocompleted, as I did that journey
> a lot before. The part where you select date & time needs to be
> minimalised. When people are using iRail they want to plan their journey
> just in time, eg. when you want to leave in 10 minutes. When a result is
> shown, it should be very easy to request later journeys or the last journey
> possible that day.
> The result page needs to be optimised. I don't only want to see the
> journeys, I also want to be able to view the train details (where will my
> train stop?) and the details & news feed about a station (what other trains
> are currently in delay? Did something awkward happen? What are people
> tweeting? Can I have a coffee during my 15 minute waiting time?), but these
> "details" should only become visible when I ask for them.
> The result page needs to contain a check-in button. I want iRail to know I
> took this train, and perhaps I want to automatically share this through
> facebook/twitter/google. But, when you do this, there will be a "present".
> We will inform you when you are eligible for an NMBS refund, we will fill
> out the form ourself and send you a PDF by mail.
> If Miet would like to help on this project, we need the graphic interface
> which will guide the user, a new graphic design for this new mobile website
> and so on. But we will also need people who like javascript/html5, people
> who like to integrate social networks, people who would like to create a
> refunding back-end and so on.
> What do you guys think?
> Kind regards,
> Pieter
> --
> iRail vzw/asbl
> +32(0)486/747122
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