VR - our national railway company - recently changed their pricing strategies. The main goal was to offer cheaper prices for early buyers. The change itself might be good: at least a student ticket from Jyväskylä to Tampere seems to a euro or two cheaper than before. The worst part about the change is that they had to change their website too.

What were they thinking with these changes!

Let’s start from the front page. I’m not an expert but I think that the most used function of their website is the search for train timetables. Previously this was presented right on the first page. Apparently they deemed that unnecessary:

This would be merely stupid if this was the only design flaw. After entering the webshop I was presented with this:

Umm… I would have liked to look at the timetable and then buy tickets. Two of them actually. So should I choose “View timetable”, “Buy tickets” or “Multi-ticket seat reservation”? Let’s try “Multi-ticket seat reservation.” *click*

What is a multi-ticket order number? Where can I get it? Apparently I shouldn’t have chosen this. Maybe I’ll just look at the timetables after all.

Reasonable enough. *click*

By looking a the breadcrumb links above I thought that we already were on Timetables page in the previous page. Oh well, onto the next page. I’ve already spent 10 minutes figuring out this order and I’m only on the third page of an eight-page process. Or is it the fourth page? Now I’m confused.

Now we can choose our train. Again. At this point my friend had already decided that he didn’t need the train ride after all. So, let’s go back to the previous page and change that.

What the hell! Not this page again. *sigh* Let’s input all the values again.

“Please note that the selected seats to ensure only once the order has been added to your basket.” Umm… Okay. Noted. I guess.

After this the rest of the process went quite painlessly, actually. But then again, there was confusion enough for one order.

It’s always depressing to see that some good product has been taken for redesigning and after spending a lot of work on it, presenting the new and worse version. Of course even the presentation didn’t work quite as planned: the whole website crashed and hundreds of people couldn’t make their reservations.

UPDATE: Apparently their website wasn’t the only one that crashed.Their ticket counters were also closed due to IT problems.