09/29/2010

The airport Web site (GVA.ch) is not fit for purpose

The airport Web site (GVA.ch) looks at first glance to be interesting and useful. A second glance reveals how it prefers useless visual effects to real, full and correct information easily accessible.


I already wrote a bit in this blog yesterday about the strike, planned for today (29 September), by air traffic controllers in Spain. This morning, when a quick check of the cancelled flights to and from that region shows it to be a reality, the gva.ch airport web site says absolutely nothing. Similarly, two days ago, flights to and from Belgium were cancelled because of the same type of action, yet this site made no mention of it whatsoever.

All of this is ridiculous, for several reasons. When you go to check this GVA.ch web site, the first thing that you see is that most of the screen is filled by the logo of the airport and a big, but variable, picture of some aspect of the airport. None of this is at all relevant to a web site which should be providing information, not competing for a prize for the most pleasing visual aspect It is a sad triumph of style over substance, a failure to appreciate that all essential information and links should come on the top left side of the opening page. By the time that you have scrolled the page down below the somewhat misleading statement that "The Airport communicates..." you have already probably missed the search field (tucked uselessly up on the top right). What you then generally see are press releases to the glory of the airport and its client airlines. Useful information for real client passengers is kept to a minimum and often rather hard to find.

If the user then wants to find out information about flights, the interface, and number of clicks necessary, is equally of poor ergonomic quality. In addition, the response time is often abysmal in comparison with what I expect from professional and well-engineered web sites. In case you think that I am exaggerating, try looking up information for particular flights via GVA.ch. For today, the arrivals check of all flights has 24 pages: it includes every codeshare for every scheduled flight. For each of these pages, the real information is below the initial window on my screen (and I have a large screen!), so I have to scroll down to find what I am looking for.

Now, try looking up the same informatiion on the general web site of flightstats.com. Note the better user interface, with multiple options on the opening page, and a response time hugely better than GVA.ch. QED!

It seems to be expected that the airline Swiss will make an announcement of welcome news for Geneva airport today. No doubt we shall very soon see one of these self-congratulatory press releases on the site. As for bad news, nobody really wants to see that, do they?

IMHO, the welcome page for GVA.ch requires a major redesign, and there should be a specific page of all information relevant to ordinary people wishing to take, or meet, flights. As well as flight arrival or departure information, this could include information on any relevant traffic problems, parking places, rail problems, weather problems and so on.

Agree or disagree? Other suggestions?

11:08 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: geneva, airport, web, site, passengers | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

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