Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Website

Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Website - student project

The Bruce Freeman Trail is a proposed rail trail through the communities of Lowell, Chelmsford, Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, Sudbury, and Framingham in Massachusetts — following the 25-mile route of the old New Haven Railroad Framingham & Lowell line.

I've managed this site for several years and recently converted it to WordPress. People visit this site to get a map of the trail, find information about parking, find volunteer opportunities, renew their membership or donate to the trail, learn about the status of trail construction and register for events on the trail. My goal is to improve the site navigation to make information easy to find.

Competitive Review

Danvers Rail Trail (

Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Website - image 1 - student project

The Danvers Rail Trail is a 4 1/3-mile non-motorized shared-use path linking schools, downtown Danvers, parks, residential areas, and trails in the neighboring towns of Peabody, Wenham, and Topsfield. The site uses an audience-specific scheme to organize content for trail users (uses, rules, maps, signage, safety), volunteers (maintenance, calendar, what’s new), task-oriented (calendar, maps, parking), geographical (maps, weather widget). The site has both a top horizontal navigation bar and a footer navigation bar which contains some secondary links as well as Contact information and a history of the trail. This site is targeting active people of all ages who are looking for a convenient way to walk, run, bicycle, ski or snowshoe safely away from roads in the greater Danvers area. The site also provides information to people who may want to volunteer for trail maintenance or to donate money to the trail.

The Methuen Rail Trail (

Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Website - image 2 - student project

The Methuen Rail Trail is a 2.4 mile rail trail through Methuen which connects to the Spicket Greenway. The site uses an audience-specific scheme to provide content to trail users (blog, directions, event, contact and lists of area trails) and birders (Bird sanctuary, Resources). Information of interest to rail trail users is listed by topic (area trails, groups, resources). Some information is also organized by task (directions, bird sanctuary, events). The site has a top horizontal navigation bar, that seems to have some graphical characteristics of a tabbed navigation, but it doesn’t show a highlighted tab when the user clicks to another page. It also has a vertical side navigation bar, although there is a block of content between the top nav and the side nav, making the side nav less visible. The Methuen Rail Trail site is targeting active people of all ages who are looking for a place to walk, to bicycle, or to run and to access the Spicket Greenway in Methuen. The site also has specific information for birders and anyone interested in exploring the natural settings and viewing wildlife along the trail and in the Spicket Greenway. The site also provides information for people interested in volunteering.

Wachusett Greenways  (

Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Website - image 3 - student project

Wachusett Greenways is a group dedicated to connecting Wachusett communities with trails and greenways. Their primary project is building and helping to maintain 30 miles of the Mass Central Rail Trail through Barre, Oakham, Rutland, Holden, West Boylston and Sterling. Wachusett Greenways also built and maintains the White Oak Trail which is connected to Trout Brook Reservation in Holden. The site uses and audience specific scheme to organize content for rail trail users (Greenways Guide, New Mass Central Rail Trail Map), Members/Contacts (Become a member/Donate today, Join our email list), Volunteers (Volunteer opportunities). The site uses top horizontal bar navigation as well as vertical sidebar navigation.

Persona (

Card Sort (5/8/2013)

Setting up the card sort took more time then I thought it would. At this point I have 8 of 10 sorts completed. I had 10 participants, but the Card Sort application did not accept some of the users input and shows 0% for cards sorted. In a discussion on this site, some other students offered to do the card sort, but now I can't find that discussion, to put the link up. It seems the office hours discussions aren't visible after the event - or I can't find them anyway.  I learned that maybe next time I would supply titles for people to use for categories as the results show a lot of categories that are different by one word. Example: About, About Us, About BF & Rail Trails. Looking at Optimal Sort, I realized I don't understand how to use the application or what some of the terms mean (dendograms?), so I need to research that more. The card sort seems like a really good exercise to do, but I'm not sure if I got good results as maybe I didn't set it up correctly.

Results are here: