Ferry system launches new website

The Alaska Marine Highway System launched its newly rebuilt website Tuesday.

The new website, a product of the AMHS marketing department, is “streamlined” and “more educational” than the previous one, according to marketing director Danielle Doyle.

“In the marketing world, you have to keep things fresh,” she said. “You have to keep providing new information and new visual stimulation for people.”

This project, however, was about rearranging rather than adding information, Doyle said. The new website now displays the most commonly used features from the old website, such as trip booking and vessel tracking, at the top of the page.

It isn’t without a couple of new bells and whistles though, including a section featuring tips from seasoned ferry riders and an expanded fleet page.

A team of about four people worked for about a year to rebuild the website, which hadn’t been rebuilt since 2008, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Jeremy Woodrow.

He compared the old site to a car, saying there are only so many times you can put new tires on it and repair it before you just have to get a new one.

“Eventually it just gets to the point where you just need to replace it,” he said.

And that point had come for a couple of reasons. According to Doyle, the site had “lost its efficiency and its flow.” But more importantly, AMHS needed a site that will be able to handle its new reservation system, which Woodrow hopes will be operational some time during the first half of next year.

The current reservation system is 15 years old, which makes it older than any of the AMHS’ shuttle ferries, and it is beyond time for an update, according to Woodrow.

“Remember what your cellphone looked like 15 years ago?” he said. “Technology has come a long way since then, and our reservation system is certainly outdated.”

As is the case with many new websites, Woodrow warned that there may be glitches at first, and he said anyone who encounters such problems should email the site’s webmaster. The website can be found at www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/.