Who are we designing for?
I am designing for a ‘young group’ between the ages of 20 to 30 years old. These friends have decided to invest and spend some quality time together. They are planning a trip a year in advance to really make it happen and accommodate for everyone’s schedules. The destination; Peking. Mixing culture and leisure they want to share as much time together as possible. The highlight of their trip will be visiting the Great Wall. They have all saved for the last year so, while they are still price-conscious, this is the opportunity to spoil themselves.
Based on this persona, and Nielsen’s Principles, I conducted usability heuristic evaluations on Hopper, Skyscanner and Kayak.
→ Hopper: Something Hopper does really well is giving the user the ‘flexibility and efficiency’ of creating accelerators. It does this by enabling the user to set a ‘hotel- or flight watch’. Without any effort the user is notified, so there is no need to manually check for price changes. Where I feel Hopper could improve is parts of its design. In some screens nothing really stands out, forcing the user to spend more time scanning the page and looking for important information. Also, while some loading screens indicate what is happening, others do not.
→ Skyscanner: This app ended at the bottom of my list. The onboarding felt strange, because of the order they chose to structure it in. The system status is also poorly displayed, which may cause users to chose what they think is the best deal while the app is still loading alternatives. Finally, it seems like they tried to put everything in the same page which makes it full and reduces the visibility of some elements.
→ Kayak: Overall Kayak scored best on all of Nielson’s Principles. Additionally, the design was modern and minimalist, matching with the persona’s preferences (as did Hopper’s). This made it my target for more extensive testing and redesigning. The better the app, the bigger the challenge!
After having tried Kayak myself I already had some ideas on where I wanted to improve, but to get a better understanding of my users and see where they were struggling I conducted user tests. I recruited five participants between the ages of 20 to 30, that matched the persona, and asked them to conduct three tasks.
→ Task 1: First I showed them the landing screen off Kayak for five seconds. Then I asked them what the application was about, what they thought they could do with it, and any other things they might have noticed.
→ Task 2: Next they had to use the app to book a flight. I asked them to find the best deal for four people. They would want a direct flight and take hold luggage. Also, one person in the group could not make any flights before 14:00pm.
→ Task 3: In the final task I asked the users to choose a hotel. Specifically, they were looking for something with at least three stars, below €100,- a night a person, and including breakfast. Since they travelled with four people, they would want two rooms.
The users were asked to look for a flight and hotel between the 4th and 25th of September 2020. Their destination was Peking’s PEK airport, which is closest to China’s Great Wall.
- Overall the participants could find their way around the app. They all completed the tasks of choosing a flight and hotel. However, there were some small pain points of which I will highlight the two that were most common among the users. There was also a larger problem which I will get to later. Images of the screens discussed have been added in the redesign section below.
- The search button on the main menu: The main menu shows the options for selecting your trip, the date and the number of travelers. Beneath that is a large orange button and even further down are additional options such as ‘search for cheapest dates’. The problem here is that the first two parts belong together, but are visually too distant from each other. This confused 3/5 users. One pressed the button when he intended to change the search queries, another skipped it completely and pressed an option below which was unrelated.
- Surcharges and filtering: After having searched 4/5 users struggled to filter the results. The main reason was that they had not seen the option to filter at the bottom of the page. Furthermore, 5/5 users did not know what to expect under ‘surcharges’.
*As an interesting note: Not a single user touched the bottom menu once!