Usability Evaluation and Site Redesign
In 2017, the world voted for the seven wonders of the new millennium. These are very touristy places that condense unique beauty and are prepared with many services for everybody to enjoy.
For this challenge, our task was to jump into the shoes of a world traveler, and use some of the user types provided that can respond to different scenarios according to our own audience reach.
With our research, benchmarking, and testing we will redesign wireframes and propose changes in order to fix the pain points through an interactive prototype.
In this case I am going to use the Kayak app and conduct a usability test based on Nielsen's Principles.
User type: “Small group of friends” between 40–60 years old.
Three friends decide to take a trip to one of the wonders of the world. Veronica, Lupita, and Monica are lifelong friends and know each other very well. They want to go on an adventure together that allows them to experience something unique and also gives them the opportunity to have some private moments. They have chosen to discover the incredible history and architecture of the Taj Mahal, in India. They love the idea of exploring a new and exotic place and are less concerned with the price. They want to focus on the quality and comfort of their adventures.
I chose this type of user because it is the most different to what I know I can empathize with this demographic, since I understand that in older generations, especially 40–60, it is more complicated to find something online that is simple. I think that often these people would save more and have more choices if they could easily find what they are looking for without going to an agency for help. This type of user, according to the people I have asked, value the option of travel packages and above all prefer safety and quality over a low price. They would prefer a direct flight or a short layover as well as a nice hotel.
- Recommended airport to destination: Delhi airport. Taxi from the airport to Agra, (duration 4:00 h)
- Currency exchange: €1 (Euro) = 89.2329 INR (Indian Rupee)
- Medical needs: All tourists visiting India need to get vaccinated for hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid.
- Visa requirements: Visa is required to travel to India for European citizens. They can also apply for an E-Visa, is an online application, and it is very simple. The cost of the visa depends on the passport with which you apply, and can vary from US $0–60.
- Wardrobe recommendations: loose-fitting T-shirts, tunics and blouses with high necklines. Long or short sleeves, and loose-fitting pants and ankle-length skirts. Lightweight neck scarf for extra modesty and a head cover when visiting temples and mosques.
- Days needed to visit attraction: Recommend staying 1–2 nights. This will give one full day to see the Taj Mahal and explore a few other things that this city has to offer.
Conducting heuristic evaluation, I have compared Kayak, Skyscanner, and TripAdvisor for my selected user type/scenario. I have identified that the one that performs better for my user type is “Kayak”. I think Kayak is more suited to the needs of this demographic, since their priority is comfort and exclusivity and not travel costs. Kayak has a wide variety of options for flights and various types of accommodation budgets, and also offers packages that are more in line with this type of user especially ages 40 to 60 when they prefer more quality over price. Apart from that, it is a fairly intuitive and easy-to-use application. The system keeps users informed of what is happening at all times and seems to do a better job for less tech-savvy generations. Kayak does a good job maintaining its consistency throughout the navigation and its icons are well understood. It shows the relevant information clearly. Kayak offers help at any time and a good guide for the essential steps needed to reach a solution.
According to my scenario I have chosen three people between 50 and 60 years old to do this test. I have applied the 5 second test, and I have also created 3 easy but very important tasks to be carried out to evaluate this service. These tasks are based on the type of audience I’ve selected to start the analysis.
The 5 second test:
I showed a test-user a screenshot of the “Kayak” website for five seconds, then I took away this picture and asked different questions about what the person has seen, or thinks about the image.
So, in this case I asked 3 questions:
- What do you think this page was about?
- Most of them thought that was a travel app.
2. What service do you think kayak offers?
- The majority knew that Kayak offers flight options, not much about hotels or packages.
3. What was the most prominent element on the page?
- For all of them, was the flight offered.
The 3 tasks were:
- Book a Book a flight to Delhi for 3 people.
- Look for a package with the same app, that can include flight+hotel, or a set of flights & hotel, etc.
- Look for a nice and exclusive hotel for 3 people with a medium to medium high budget, (3 rooms, bathroom inside, air conditioning, and good location).
Discovering pain points was challenging because Kayak does a good job with their application design. However, there’s always something we can change and learn so we can make a better experience for users. According to my analysis, I have found a few pain points for my demographic:
- Flights are not connected directly with Kayak
The biggest problem for my user demographic was that at the moment of booking any flight with Kayak, they are redirected to the different airline’s booking pages. The objective of an online travel agency, like Kayak, is to give the facility to easily see multiple options and details as well as book them all directly. This begs the question, what is the point of making arrangements with an agency if at the time of choosing the flight we have to make the arrangements again in the other pages with the main airlines?
The other big problem that we found is that when you want to book an itinerary that consists of 2 separate airlines, there is a risk that while buying one flight the other flight may no longer be available, or some error or problem may occur while buying them separately making it difficult to link the itinerary.
2. Some “packages options” cannot be successfully used
In the “packages” section, my user tries to find a good option for a flight + accommodation directly to the destination “Agra”.
Agra is the town where the Taj Mahal is located, one of the 7 wonders of the world, it is a very well known place with many activities. It is full of different types of accommodation, but you can’t always find flights directly to Agra’s airport. The nearest airport is in Delhi and it is a 4 hour drive from Agra.
There are rarely flights to Agra, and as a result, when searching for flight + accommodation packages, Kayak will not return any results even though there are many options available. Tourists typically fly into Delhi to reach Agra. In this case, the user will not have access to the packages section, forcing him/her to search again for everything separately.
3. Hotel/Accommodation lists only show cover photos
In this part the user looks for a hotel for her and her 3 friends, they have a medium-high budget and she looks for different options. For her, the photos are the most important part of her booking process. The photos allow her to visualize herself in a beautiful, quiet, and exclusive place for the 3 of them. The hotel images will help her decide faster and make her feel more confident in her choice.
The problem she found here was that to see the images of each place, she has to go into each offer. This makes her lose a little bit of time and interest. It would be good to have access to the hotel’s images without having to enter each offer or the hotel page.
I think this application is fantastic, however there are some areas where the user experience can be improved. In this case my user type is very different from me and my generation. I empathized a lot with them and that has given me an amazing opportunity to think of small solutions that could make things easier and happier for them when organizing a trip.
- Flights are not connected directly with Kayak
These are the actions my user has followed to take the first step to book a flight for 3 people with the application.
After searching for the flights, the user goes through 3 screens until she arrives at the one that mentions the different offers with other travel agencies. After 3 more screens she could start filling in the passenger details and the other requirements needed to buy the tickets.
When purchasing a service or product online especially for this user demographic, ease and speed are important to avoid stress and frustration. A practical and simple improvement can serve my user type better. In this case, I propose that:
After selecting a flight from the search screen, as seen in the image, we can go directly to the purchase and passenger details screen. It would be good if Kayak could handle the purchase directly from their website like other agencies without having to redirect the user. This would speed up the search in only 3 screens from the “flight search” in a practical and easy way.
2. Some “packages options” cannot be successfully used
These are the actions my user followed to take the first step to book a flight for 3 people within the application. In this case, the user is looking for Flight+Hotel packages for 3 people and the application does not return any results since the selected destination:
a. Does not have flights for the dates
b. There is no airport in the destination city
c. It is not a very busy airport and does not appear as an option — this is the reason in our example
Being a non-transit airport and with few flights, it does not appear directly, and for this reason does not give the option of Flight+Hotel.
This can be a bit frustrating for the user, because she would think that these packages do not exist. What I propose instead is that the application will look directly for the nearest or most transited airport — which in this case would be the airport of New Delhi — and connects it directly to the desired location to find the Hotel — in this case with the city of Agra.
This would also work vice versa, if you don’t find the location and only the flight, it will look for the nearest location with the selected airport.
This can be accomplished with the options “Recommended airport” and “Places to stay in”. With the same steps as before, instead of not finding any options, when a user looks up a hotel in Agra, it automatically shows suggested flights to Delhi, which is the nearest airport. This allows the Flight + Hotel package section to be populated even when there are no direct flights.
3. Hotel/Accommodation options don’t have access to the photos of each place, it only shows the cover photo
These are the actions my user has followed to book a flight for 3 people with the application. “Looking for Hotels” shows us several options and offers. My user demographic is less tech savvy and as a result, the more often we redirect them outside of the app, the more complicated it becomes for them. A good improvement for this App would be the ability to see the photos of the places directly in the thumbnail without having to enter each option.
I redesigned the “Hotel Search” page with an easy option to look at hotel photos without having to enter each offer or option shown on the page. With the arrows on each side of the thumbnail, we will have the option to access all the photos of these hotels or accommodations.
This option reduces time and gives the user a clear idea of whether he or she would consider choosing that hotel, without redirecting them off of the page and potentially losing them.
This exercise has been challenging as the application is well built and people enjoy using it. It was really hard to find problems or many things to improve. Since the user type I was working with is very different from my demographic, it was a good exercise to learn to empathize as a different person with different skills and perspectives. After adjusting to their needs and figuring out what they were looking for, I found some improvements. The improvements were simple and very practical, but they were still big improvements to the user’s experience.
Each user has different priorities and needs, but travel is still an option for most people, in this case, for this specific type of person we want to:
a. Facilitate searches, filter the options as much as possible so that they do not cause confusion and frustration by causing the users to be overwhelmed and feeling lost.
b. Have fewer steps that go directly to where they want to go.
c. Direct access and speed to photos.
I’ve realized that they don’t want to spend a lot of time on the computer analyzing every single detail, but rather prefer something more direct, simple and practical. If Kayak strives to replace the in-person travel agent, they need to make these improvements to satisfy the needs of the older demographics.