NMA Article: Speedtrap.org Redesigned: A New Focus On Usability
The NMA has operated The National Speed Trap Exchange (www.speedtrap.org) for nearly a decade and it has consistently been the number one spot on the web for people looking for information on speed traps. After a large increase in interest in the site about a year and a half ago, the decision was made to redesign the site so that it could include maps of the speed traps (using Google Maps.)
It was something that we thought would make the site more useful to fans of the site. Unfortunately, due to various issues, the redesign was not a hit with the general public. Since the redesign launched, traffic has steadily dropped and user complaints became more frequent.
Adding the mapping feature was a technical challenge and required some compromises on our end. For example, we originally had nearly 60,000 speed traps listed in the United States and Canada. However, since many of the speed traps were not usable by Google Maps we had to drop about 40,000 of them — including all the Canada speed traps.
The overall usability of the site also suffered with various issues popping up from time to time, including but not limited to speed traps showing up in the wrong locations and the search function failing to generate relevant results.
Because of these issues, we decided to redesign the site from the ground up with a new focus on making it as easy as possible to find and add speed traps to the site. We also wanted to make it easy for people to browse the site and discuss speed traps.
It was a tough decision, but we ultimately decided that removing the maps from the site was the best way to achieve these goals. We believe that the mapping feature is a better fit for the increasingly competitive device market (GPS and mobile) than for our website.
We want to be the place where people go to share, talk and vent about speed traps online instead of just being a speed trap notification service.
Because of this decision, we were able to add back the missing speed traps including all the Canada speed traps.
With the new design, we were also able to remove some barriers to interaction. Previously, you had to register for an account before you could add a speed trap. That is no longer the case. With the new site, anyone can easily add a speed trap in less than a minute. To keep the quality of submissions reasonable, each speed trap is moderated by a real person — but speed traps will generally go up quickly.
Another barrier to communication was the commenting system. We’ve decided to start the new site on a clean slate. Our database of comments had become cluttered with spammy links, references to previously corrected spelling/grammar errors, and complaints about inaccurate maps (which no longer exist on the current site and would confuse new users.)
The volume of comments was so large that it was impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost the good and helpful comments that have been left on the site, but we hope people will start new conversations on the redesigned site.
To encourage above-average comment quality and discourage spammers, commenting is the one thing on the site that requires a user account. The account is free though and it takes less than 30 seconds to sign up. If you already had an account on the old site, it will work on the redesigned site as well — we transferred the accounts into the new system.
On the old site, because comments were tied to specific users, many users chose not to comment out of fear that their username would be noticed by local authorities and they would become targets of unwelcome attention. On the new site this is no longer an issue because all comments will be anonymous.
Overall, we think you’ll find the new site substantially easier and more fun to browse. If your area doesn’t have many speedtraps, we encourage you to add any that you know of. It’s extremely simple to do — just click “Add A Speed Trap” on any page of the website.
Check it out here: The National Speed Trap Exchange
Note: In some parts of the country/world, the new version of the site may not show up until tomorrow because it takes a while for the site to roll out completely. Speedtrap.org Redesigned: A New Focus On Usability
Further Reading: © 2009 NMA