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CMS | Website Build | User Experience

Building A New Site For Wightlink

The ferry operator wanted a site that improved user experience


    What we did

  • Ferry operator required a more user-centric website to encourage bookings 

  • Covid-19 caused a temporary stumbling block which we overcame

  • Team carried out extensive UX testing and optimised for mobile devices

  • Built an intuitive site which enabled easier booking and streamlined internal processes

The Client

Wightlink is an award-winning ferry company which transfers 3.8 million customers annually between ports on the Hampshire coast and the Isle of Wight. Founded in 1972, it is a progressive operator whose care for the environment is evident - its flagship ferry is an eco-friendly hybrid and its efforts in reducing carbon emissions have earned positive recognition.

Read about how we created the Wightlink Explorer

The Problem

Operating 140 sailings every day means huge traffic to Wightlink’s website, where passengers can check crossing times and book tickets. However, the existing site was slow and lacking in the functionality necessary for a smooth customer experience. Wightlink, a long-time client which was aware of our proven track record, asked us to develop a new mobile-optimised, user-focused and innovative website.

What we did

To fully understand Wightlink’s requirements, solve its problems and to ensure we were meeting expectations at each stage of the process, we held regular in-person meetings. This worked well until the country shut down due to Covid-19. Forced to experiment with new ways of working (Zoom), the project continued apace and a new project manager was installed to ensure Wightlink received all the support it needed.

Crucial for successful UX design is extensive user-testing and feedback, which in this case meant staff and customer insights. We held workshops on board the ferries (before lockdown) to trial different layouts with different groups, enabling us to gather genuine responses on the new design. 

wightlink mobile

There were several elements which we added or enhanced, to create an intelligent website for Wightlink and a seamless journey for its customers. These included:

  • Adding personalisation for logged-in customers
  • Vastly improving the site architecture to display live service status information and easy-to-use, logical navigation
  • Redesigning the homepage booking widget, enabling customers to purchase tickets quickly and far more easily
  • Introducing a price estimate tool for customers looking for indicative sailing costs 
  • Re-designing all core pages to help Wightlink communicate more clearly to passengers

What the client said

“At Wightlink we endeavour to provide the best possible user experience for prospective and returning customers to our website. So far, I am thrilled with the new website’s performance and handling of traffic flow. Moving forward, Wightlink expects to handle the growing traffic levels with maximum efficiency, making it easier than ever for visitors to be transported to the Isle of Wight on our ferries.”

Wightlink CEO - Keith Greenfield

Wightlink desktop


Ultimately, using valuable customer insights and collaborating with the client, even during the difficulties of lockdown, we were able to build what Si digital founder, Steven Piper described as “an attractive user-centred website that places Wightlink at the forefront of their industry”.

The resulting streamlined site is faster, far easier to navigate and future-proofed. Internal, back-end activities are now less cumbersome. Being mobile-first, it also enables users to access the site in more convenient ways than ever before.