SSA surveys customers on website redesign

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A screenshot of the SSA website.

The SSA is looking for the public’s input into making changes to its website, steamshipauthority.com, through a public survey that will continue through March 21, according to a press release.

The survey asks for feedback about the SSA’s current website, and what changes customers might like to see in a new website. As an incentive to participate in the survey, which is estimated to take no more than 10 minutes to complete, the SSA is making participants automatically eligible for a drawing for one of four $500 Amazon gift cards.

Asked why the SSA didn’t consider local businesses for its incentive, Sean Driscoll, a spokesman for the ferry service, wrote, “We sent notification of this survey to both residents and visitors, so choosing a gift option with a wide appeal made sense given that distribution. If one of the winners wishes to select a local merchant instead, we will accommodate that without an issue.”

The SSA has set aside $2 million for the project. Driscoll explained via email that the $2 million is the cap on the budget for the project, and 80 percent is covered by a federal grant. “We won’t know costs until we award a contract,” he wrote in an email. “The RFP is expected to be issued in May, so contract award will be late summer or early fall.”

The website redesign project, which launched in late 2020, is being overseen by a project team that includes representatives from the authority’s communications, marketing, shoreside operations, reservations, and accounting departments, according to the release. The project team designed the survey, which is being conducted by Brewster-based management consulting practice Consumer Insight Associates. In addition to the online survey, the firm will also conduct in-depth telephone interviews with key stakeholders from the authority’s port communities, the release states.

“For many of our customers, our website is the first part of their travel experience with the Steamship Authority,” SSA general manager Robert Davis said in the release. “It serves as our booking engine, as a resource for travelers to research the wonderful things to do on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and as a repository for the business we conduct as a public entity. The redesign is a key project for the Steamship Authority in 2021, and I look forward to getting robust, thoughtful input through this process.”

Once the survey is completed, the project team will review the results and incorporate their key findings, along with the findings of internal surveys, into a request for proposals for the design of a new website and/or the development of a mobile application. The SSA expects to issue the RFP this spring, with the goal of presenting a recommendation to the SSA board in late summer or early fall 2021.

The SSA’s last website redesign launched in 2013, with a “refresh” in 2018.

The survey may be accessed here: bit.ly/SSAwebsurvey.