Metlink | Website | App | Development | Project

Helping tens of thousands of Wellingtonians get around this beautiful city of ours

Metlink, as part of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, is the Wellington region’s public transport network of bus, train and harbour ferry services - overseeing 4 rail lines, over 100 bus routes, more than 200 school bus services, and 4 harbour ferry stops.

Metlink first teamed up with Somar Digital in 2015 to design and build a website and App that helps help hundreds of thousands of commuters find public transport information, such as timetables and dynamic journey plans, quickly and easily.

Since then Somar Digital has worked closely with Metlink to make regular updates taking onboard user feedback and improving the overall usability and design of the App and website. link)

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App and website design and build

Metlink website on devices

Somar Digital’s work with Metlink has revolved around designing and building the Metlink App as well as the website. We take into account how it will function on different devices and utilise a wealth of User Research and general feedback to inform design decisions and any functionality we add-in. This has been an ongoing process over the last few years.

Metlink website on devices

Managing multiple stakeholders

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Greater Wellington Regional Council has many decision-makers and stakeholders, each with their own perspective. We treated this as an opportunity to engage, and this attitude drove our success across the project. Dealing with a wide range of stakeholders hasn’t affected the amount of work we’ve done for them. We’re still able to get things done on time and on budget!

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Defining user feedback

metlink user feedback

The Metlink site needed many user testing sessions - in UX labs, out on Wellington streets with mobile devices, and by external companies. Somar Digital compiled the results into an easy-to-read summary document for the product owners, then helped prioritise resources to solve common user issues.

metlink user feedback

An Open Source solution

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The Metlink site was developed in Silverstripe, which was the perfect content management system for a complex site of this scale. Because of the advanced functionality and use of numerous APIs, our development team engineered several advanced modules. Somar Digital also supplied an Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting solution to cater for heavy traffic loads, especially during peak rush hours and in the case of emergencies such as an earthquake or severe storm.

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Delivering UX that works

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The App and website handles a lot of complex data but making the overall user experience for the user easy to use and intuitive. Many people visit the Metlink site on mobile, often at bus stops or on the move, so we focused on delivering a great small-screen experience. Somar Digital's expertise in UX design drove the site’s extensive functionality, such as being able to track vehicles in real-time and select from hundreds of timetables. We recruited external user test participants and oversaw user testing, findings, and recommendations to Metlink to ensure a great end product.

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Interactive real-time information

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Can let users know if their bus is running on time or late/early. Can click on a stop to see the next services as well as selecting the service they want to catch and being able to see whereabouts it is on the route. This gives users precise information about the service they want to catch so they can plan better and spend less time waiting for a service. We’ve designed this in a way that is user-friendly and doesn’t feel cluttered on the App. or website even if using a mobile screen.

bus running on time on the metlink app

Journey Planner

journey planner on mobile

Users are able to plan their trip which gives them information about which services they need to catch, when they can catch them and where the stops are located. New functionality enables Metlink to add locations of interest to the map so that users can plan a journey to not just a stop. This could include popular destinations like Te Papa as well as the nearest Snapper card top-up locations. Ultimately we want to design a product that is as seamless and easy to use as possible for people who are wanting to use public transport in the Wellington Region.

journey planner on mobile
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New website and app preferred by users

Over 20,000 people rely on the Metlink website and app every day and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have received extremely positive feedback to date - 94% of users surveyed prefer the new site vs. the previous website. Somar Digital has worked closely with Metlink to make sure that we base any changes and updates on user feedback.

The Most Trusted form of Public Transport Information

On average 38 million trips are taken on Wellington’s PT network a year: the Metlink website is the most used form of PT information for people using Wellington’s PT service. The future of the Metlink Commuter App: the Metlink Commuter App’s usage has been on the rise ever since it was first introduced.

Server load and emergencies

The Metlink website needs to handle the stress of a natural disaster or other serious unplanned disruption. Somar Digital set up a robust, reliable server solution using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform then completed several stress tests. We pushed a test scenario for 30,000 server requests per minute (far above what the site might expect), and it performed admirably.

Personalised user experience

Users are able to set up favorites for routes, stops, and services so that they get a more personal experience using the app. This gives users information when they open the app that is attuned to what they want to see like when the next bus gets to their bus stop. Users can also set up alerts for the services they catch so that they can get notified if there are any changes like cancellations to their service.


The website was first recognised in September 2016 with the “2016 WebAward for outstanding achievement in web development” accolade in the world’s premier competition for web developers and advertising agencies.

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The Somar team are a really great bunch of people and they really reflect the values of the business here and how we work.

David Boyd, Customer Experience Manager