For my final UX challenge in my Ironhack pre-work, I was given the task of redesigning a travel metasearch website. Using Nielsen’s Ten Heuristics in UI Design, I selected Tripadvisor mobile website for the following reasons:
- Visibility of system status: Links provide feedback when clicked.
- Match between system and real world: Most links use plain language.
- User control and freedom: Users are able to change travel dates.
- Consistency and standards: Flight searches and hotel searches are consistent with other platforms.
- Error prevention: Once travel dates are selected, they are the default throughout searches related to a trip.
- Recognition rather than recall: Tripadvisor reminds user of the price of accommodations and flights once a a flight and/or accommodation is selected.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use: Tripadvisor has the option to save trips for the future if signed into the app.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design: Tripadvisor’s landing page is visually appealing website with a modern vector image and only having a search bar.
- Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors: Once travel dates are selected, they are the default throughout searches related to a trip.
- Help and documentation: Because the website is a metasearch, users have flexibility in the steps they would like to take in searching for travel information.
Although the Tripadvisor mobile website satisfies Nielsen’s heuristics, further research uncovered some usability problems.
- The primary objective is to improve the usability of Tripadvisor’s mobile website for users looking to travel internationally and alone.
- The second objective was to improve search results for users looking to travel internationally and alone.
“WorldTrotters” or “Backpackers” looking to travel alone share the following characteristics that needed to be taken into consideration with user research:
- They are typically between the age of 18 to 38.
- They are price conscious.
- They do not stay in one destination for a long time.
- They are more likely to interact with and share travel experiences with locals and new people.
- They are more open to accommodations outside of traditional hotels.
Taking these characteristics into account, I interviewed four users within the WorldTrotter/ Backpacker age range. Using Zoom on a mobile device, users performed a 5-second usability test and three tasks on the Tripadvisor mobile website.
5 Second Usability Test
Users viewed a screen shot of Tripadvisor’s mobile landing page for five seconds, then answered the following questions:
- What did you see?
- What can this tool do for you?
- Where would you search for a flight?
Based on the responses below, Users were less likely to use the buttons under the logo to search for flight information and more likely to use the search bar. This finding is consistent with majority of users perceiving the Tripadvisor website as primarily used to book accommodations.
For consistency, users were all given the same scenario (shown below)and overall task to complete.
Scenario: You are celebrating the start of the summer with an international solo trip. You have always seen pictures of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and you want to see it for yourself this May 2021. You will be saving for this trip between now and May, but you are price conscious. You have decided to travel alone in order to have the most flexible schedule and meet new people.
Users were also given three subtasks that they can complete in whichever order made the most sense to them:
- Select the best flight for your trip
- under $700 total
- Select the airport closest to the Christ the Redeemer location
- Leaving May 13, 2021
- Returning May 27, 2021
2. Find the best accommodation
- under $70 per night
- Not a hotel
3. Find one other interesting activity (event, tourist spot, etc.) to do in Rio de Janeiro during your stay
After completing the Tripadvisor tasks, users were asked the following questions:
“Were there any complications or confusions while completing the Tripadvisor tasks?”
“Were there any portions of the tasks that you found enjoyable?”
“Are there other concerns that you may have outside of the tasks provided?”
This question allowed users to share any additional insights that were not shared during the Tripadvisor task.
The findings of the research were organized based on the subtasks (Accommodation, Flight, Activity) and results of the post-tasks questions were distributed among the subtask themes or categorized into “Needed Information.”
Based on the user insights, here were the findings for each theme:
1. Selecting an accommodation is not first step when planning a trip.
2. Ratings are prioritized equally or more than location images when selecting an accommodation
3. The Hotel tab on the landing page was not clear that the link led to information regarding other accommodations that were not hotels.
- If there are multiple airports in a city, there is no distinction as to which airport is closest to an individual landmark.
2. Users do not like being directed to another website to actually book the flight.
3. Selecting a flight is typically the first task when planning a trip.
- Users need to sign in to Tripadvisor’s app or have a Tripadvisor account in order to view activities, which made choosing an activity difficult.
1. There were a lot of content for pages which can be overwhelming.
2. Tabs under the landing page search bar were unclear they were links.
3. Safety is a major concern that is not visible in the Tripadvisor website.
4. Reviews play a major role in choices.
The primary changes were made on Tripadvisor’s landing page, Hotel search listings page and Flights listing page. Solutions emphasized providing more information related to safety. One user stated,
“Apartments look like Air BnB but what’s is concerning is the area and how sketchy the area is.”
In addition, solutions also decreased clicking options in order to decrease cognitive overload as users have consistently mentioned the large amounts of scrolling on the site pages. One user stated,
“People like our age is pretty good but maybe not for older. The pages give you all the options on one page but may be visually crazy for someone older.”
- Change order of tabs under search bar from current order (Hotel, Vacation Rental, Things to do, Restaurants, Write a Review, Travel Forums, Flights, More) to (Flights, Hotel, Vacation Rental, Things to Do, Restaurants, Write a Review, Travel Forums, More)
- Eliminate the “More” button because the content was the same as the dropdown menu
- Eliminate the “Travel Forum” button and move content to “Travel Advice”
- Change landing page arrow from scroll to drop down
- Add shadow under landing page buttons to look clickable
- Place “Vacation Rental” as a Property type in Accommodation tab
- Rename “Hotel” button on landing page to “Accommodations”
- Flight Sort and filter options should be fixed position
- Duration filter for flights should be above flight times
- Add safety ranking for accommodation listings
- Accommodation Sort and filter options should be fixed position
- Accommodation sort and filter option in should be fixed position
- Add “Get Safe” Section to Travel Advice
- Add link to Travel Forum
The Power of Small Changes
Redesigning the Tripadvisor mobile website provided great insight in the power of small changes. Each solution makes minor impacts in the navigation and visual look of the website. However, the user experience will improve greatly with these changes.
Because I started redesigning the mobile version of the website first, future redesigns of Tripadvisor’s website will need to look at the desktop version in order to maintain consistency. Also, the short length of time to complete this case study did not allow for more in-depth questions regarding the users’ insights on the large amount of content on the page. Some additional questions I would have liked to ask include: “Which sections of this page to you find to be useful for the current task?” and “How much of the page content to you remember?”
Although users within this study have consistently acknowledged that they found the website to be visually appealing, Tripadvisor has plenty of room to improve its usability for its diverse users.