New SSA website launch anticipated after Thanksgiving

Testing and approval still remain before a website can be launched to the public. 

SSA general manager Robert Davis relaying his report to the SSA Board at the Oak Bluffs Library. —Eunki Seonwoo

Updated Oct. 26

The Steamship Authority’s (SSA) new website and app won’t be making its debut until after Thanksgiving. 

The redesigned website and new app were originally meant to launch this past spring, a date that was pushed to October. However, delays and change orders pushed project costs higher, and resulted in the current budget of $2.8 million. 

“Ninety-three percent of that has been spent at this point,” SSA general manager Bob Davis said. 

Stellar Elements — originally called Projekt202, which later changed to ADK Group — is handling the redesign. Chris Baker with the group said the website was getting close to launching, and he was before the board Tuesday. 

“We recognize the journey it’s taken to get here, collectively,” Baker said. 

Davis said work has gone into the website already, such as the ability to edit email addresses and content management system updates. But the redesign still has work remaining, such as credit and gift card processing, finalizing security setups, and testing and fixing bugs. 

“Stellar Elements and the IT staff are looking at developing a load test so that [we] can stress test the system [to see] if there’s any points of failure we should be concerned about, as well as some site monitoring procedures,” Davis said. 

While work continues on making the finished product, Port Council members recently had an information session with SSA communications director Sean Driscoll to become familiarized with the website. Public information sessions will take place on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in early November. 

Falmouth board representative Peter Jeffrey, who had been critical of the project’s delays and cost creep, asked for a timeline of when the project is expected to be completed, and whether the remaining 7 percent will be sufficient to cover the work. 

According to Davis, internal testing of the website is planned for the beginning of November, which should take a couple of weeks. Additionally, the SSA still needs to wait for approval from the Apple Store and Google Play for the mobile app and credit card testing. Considering the expected amount of time needed and the upcoming holiday season, a busy period with many travelers, Davis said the rollout of the new website and app is being aimed for right after Thanksgiving. This would give people time to become accustomed to the new features before the SSA’s reservations open in January for the following summer season. 

Davis said the remaining budget would be enough to cover the remainder of the project. 

Jeffrey followed up to ask what kind of live support would be available for the website’s first month of rollout. Driscoll said some of the reservation staff have been trained to help users. Additionally, a section of the website will be dedicated to questions about the site, and the SSA plans to have online tutorials and videos. The SSA is also working with Stellar Elements to make a live chat function. The current plan is to have the live support available until a couple of hours after the reservation offices close at 4 pm. 

“So, don’t try to make your reservation overnight the first time around,” Jeffrey said. 

“It will work, I have faith,” Driscoll replied. “They’re going to have extra people on staff at reservation offices to handle those questions.”

A previous version of this story stated Robert Davis did not say whether the remaining budget would be enough to cover the remainder of the project.


  1. Please, in the name of everything considered holy by anyone anyplace, please do not launch this just before a holiday weekend.

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