Irish Rail WiFi

Mobile Optimization – Irish Rail – Really?

On my way home yesterday, I decided to catch up with my news. Turns out, for some reason, I couldn’t access most economy, or politics-related sites because they are “restricted content over 18”.

Vodafone really needs to reassess how content is classified. Apparently, blog of Paul Craig Roberts, chairman of The Institute for Political Economy in the US is classified as over 18 only. This is the kind of content that should be available to everyone so they can educate themselves. I leave that to Vodafone, though.

Then I had an amazing idea how to read the blog I want. All I had to do is to connect to Irish Rail WiFi to bypass filters from Vodafone. After all, that’s what they’re using in their advertising. Free WiFi – work away on your way to, or from work in case you feel like working all the time ignoring old ladies who need to sit down (yes, you rude red-haired guy with your headphones stuck up your arse so deep you don’t see what’s happening around you).

So, I connected to WiFi with signal strength – 90% – fantastic!

Launch browser – click on a bookmark and… wait a second what’s this? A page that tells me to accept terms and conditions (you need to monitor all traffic in case someone wants to watch porn on your WiFi – that’s perfectly ok).

The idea is good, but the form of it? Have a look for yourself how it looks on a smartphone (it’s not smart btw, just a phone with browser):

Irish Rail WiFi Welcome Page

You can barely read anything on the screenshot, not to mention how it looks on your phone. Zoom in and out anyone?

Is it really this hard to enter a couple lines of code (media queries) to scale it appropriately depending on the device?

I looked around to see what people are browsing with. Out of 10 people with their heads stuck in their “smart” devices only one was using a tablet and 9 were using smartphones. Isn’t this a good reason enough to optimize a SINGLE page?  It’s WiFi on the train and most devices used will be with relatively small screens.

It only got better when I clicked on “I accept Terms and Conditions Connect me to WiFi” button. Sigh… it didn’t work. Pressed it again and again… The internet wasn’t working at all. Perhaps they were experiencing “technical difficulties”. The reliability of the service is not the point of this post anyway. I just hope that “download user guide” link is not an external link on that page. It would be hilarious if it was, though.

One more suggestion.

Why not make that page people-friendly and fill it with positive emotions? There’s thousands of people commuting every day and probably good chunk of them want to use the service you’re providing for free. Why not put a smiley face there, some random text changing depending on time of the day? Think about it. People are going to and back from work. They’re sleepy, angry, tired, happy. They’ve just woken up, they’re thinking of going to bed. You’ve got the full spectrum of society on the train. You’re playing with emotions and can play that to your enormous advantage. Change copy to be more human than technical. The reality is, probably less than 1% of people using this free WiFi cared to read how you’re going to throttle the use of it anyway. How about a “Rise and shine! 🙂 Thank you for using Irish Rail.”. Followed by a copy, which a PR, or propaganda student can create in 10 minutes, to boost the image of Irish Rail and has a good potential to go viral (a bit at least).

Heck, throw in a picture of a cat. Half of the train will go “awwww”. (that’s sarcasm, but wouldn’t be surprised if it worked…)

Last but not least, you could use this page for a bit of advertising mentioning your current promotions. Other than that, simply use it for current announcements, like changes in schedule, interruptions, etc. There’s ways of making this page, you know, useful.

All in all, those changes wouldn’t really take much of development and effort. Yet, they could positively change the user experience and add a bit to the brand of Irish Rail.

If you have any ideas on that page, share them in comments.

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