Τετάρτη, 18 Μαΐου 2016

My first simple site, a story about opportunities.

One of the things that I am proud about, as a student of Computer Engineering and Informatics, is the site of Proastiakos (local suburban train). It is a personal victory and a story of turning problems into opportunities.

The Proastiakos of Patras, local suburban train that connects the city centre with the University of Patras, started its service on July 9th 2010 by TRAINOSE, mainly as an experiment. The official site of the Trainose company was - and remains - outdated but the train is cheaper and more accurate than local buses, so the students prefer it. In 2012 the train had 1.340.000 passengers, growing steadily to 1.430.000 in 2013 and 1.600.000 in 2014.

Among those passengers that used the train every day, there were hundreds (if not thousands) of engineering students. Students that had better coding skills than I had, but like a great post I recently read "they knew how to program, but they din't know what to program". I didn't know how to code, but I knew what to code, a site about the train that I was using every day and nobody knew the timetable.

I launched my site in October 2012. It was a simple, static, non responsive, plain html site providing the timetable, tickets and cards information and the route. When I saw that people in the university liked the site (the information, but not the design), I started improving the site and myself. The site became responsive, then I added analytics (on hands approach), Facebook pixel audience, Google Adsense, recently got a massive improvement with html5 initializr and soon will also have an English version.

Since the last update, two years ago, the site has 100 daily unique users, not something impressive, but the best moment was in its first launch when the train company printed my site and used in in the Patra's central train station. This was something. The train company did not have a proper timetable, and an employer printed the only available solution on-line, posted in the central station to inform the passengers.
www.proastiakos.eu site printed in the Patras' Train Station
Anyway this is a post about my best moment as an engineering student. I found a problem, turned it into an opportunity, and in the process I learned how to code and update a proper site, using analytics, advertising and other useful tools that I knew in theory. Trivial for an engineering school semester project, but a client centric, market site that works and has clients.