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Our guiding principles

So you’re about to start working on a project for NS. We’ve identified some principles for you to keep in mind that’ll help things stay on track.

Why are these important?

We want happy customers

Imagine you just got home from a holiday. When you look back and judge how fun it was, you base it on the entire week instead of individual moments. It’s not all about that funny waiter, or all about that broken shower in the hotel. Our customer’s happiness is also a sum of all experiences over their whole journey.

All the little things - no matter how small - add up to make their experience a positive one.


Nice and easy

We all know the frustration of endless scrolling, hidden layers containing important information. Especially when you’re on the move, in rush!

We’re making things that real people use, in their everyday lives. It’s best to keep things as universally understood as possible. Start by putting yourself in our customer's shoes and then keep it as simple as possible from that point on. Assume they don’t know how things work or what things mean and they haven’t got any time to figure it out.

Our tips for success:

  • Keep it clear, simple and honest.
  • Use focus to avoid ‘choice stress’.
  • Keep the copy as short, clear and concise as possible.
  • Photos, icons, illustrations and video will make it easier to understand.


It makes people happy... really

We guess it’s because people expect things in the NS world to behave in a certain way. For instance they need to know where the handles on the seats are in case they are standing up when the train stops suddenly. This is also true in digital. We have established patterns and behaviours that our customers will expect to be true across their whole journey so it’s very important that you stick to these NS building blocks that we’ve put in place on this site. And if there is something missing then please let us know.

Our tips for success:

  • Keep looking at Platform we’re updating it all the time so if you can’t find what you want we maybe working on it...and if it’s not there let us know!
  • Our brand is dynamic, use NS photography, illustrations, copy, animation and an upbeat tone to bring everything to life.


Green lights all the way

It’s all about the bigger picture man... ok that’s a bit deep but we are in the business of creating journeys. Our customers judge us on a sum of their experiences. That means we can’t work on an island.

Your project needs to fit in with everything else in the NS world. For instance our customers should be able to pause an activity and resume it later from an alternative touchpoint. This seamlessness between channels requires a thinking about the bigger picture so try and speak with as many people as possible to create these links and make a whole journey experience better.


Make it for everyone, on everything, everywhere.

Part of being seamless is making sure all of our content and services should be accessible for all users.

Accessibility means we should be aware of when, where and on what type of devices people are coming into contact with NS with. Obviously this includes those people with a disability. Please read our accessibility guidelines to help you get this right. With more than 40% of us (and it’s going up all the time!) accessing NS services from a mobile you have to be sure that everything works on those small screens.

Our tips for success:

  • Please read our accessibility guidelines to discover the best way to make your project accessible.
  • Make sure everyone can use what you make.
  • Think mobile first and scale up (Mobile first, responsive web design information).
  • Consider the whole journey of our customers.
  • Get insights from user research, analytics and A / B testing.


Giving them what they need when they want it

Right place. Right time. That’s how the magic happens. If you consider the context in which a customer find themselves, you’ll be able to create a more relevant and positive experience. For example: on a sunny morning, you can remind our customer that they can grab an OV-fiets, while you might suggest a Zonetaxi in heavy rain.

Designing specific experiences for specific situations is a great way to create trust and loyalty.

Designer guidelines to contextualisation:

  • Analyse customer preferences and use them to improve our services.
  • Make sure there’s something interesting and inspirational for the user at the end of the page.


Make their day

Trains are awesome. And we want people to use them as much as possible. If we know someone who lives in Utrecht that loves hiking then we should serve them up the latest and greatest trails around that area that you can reach by train.

We should always try to deliver content and functionality that match our customers needs.

You also have the opportunity to make experiences that surprise and delight…so go on make them smile and they’ll come back! Try and look beyond the 'safe and on time' as people will remember extraordinarily positive experiences. Inspire people to travel by train by using a cheerful, playful and human tone. Try and get to know them and help them and they’ll come back for more.

Our tips for success:

  • Contact our data and insights team to find out what data we can use to make it personalized
  • Make sure there is something interesting and inspirational for that particular user at the end of the page.
  • Make a link between emotion and functionally; from focused planning to inspiration and vice versa.
  • Try and be as personal as possible in tone and functionality with our customers.

Putting these principles into action

We are currently working on a blueprint for our process but in the meantime here is a good starting point for working in the NS way.

We believe in collaboration. Everyone’s opinion counts. Yours, your colleagues’ and our customers’. If we are going to improve our customer satisfaction rating we will need everyone to participate in the design process. Be open to suggestions and ideas from our customers. NS customers and employees should feel like they are 'co-owners' and their input should be listened to.

If you’d like to help us then please share your knowledge and become an Expert - we need your help to make Platform better for everyone. We can always make it better!

Now let’s make better journeys

It never stops. Check out our Fundamentals section and help us make Platform better.