Usability Evaluation and Site Redesign for Kayak App

Ipek Bogatur
6 min readDec 8, 2019

Does it work how users expect?

Usability plays a role in each stage of the design process. The need for multiple studies is to isolate problems that we might not realize while creation process. It requires individual studies, that are both fast and cheap, to test one thing at the time.

As a designer, not every project that arrives at our hands is about creating a new product for the world. Often, we’ll be asked to evaluate an existing product and many times this job will be followed by a redesign.

For this new challenge we were asked to redesign a better traveling experience. We were asked to select a user type from a given list and I picked Small group of friends according to my own audience reach.

Small group of friends — 40–60 y/o
You and your lifelong friends decided to go on an adventure together, to delight yourself with the world’s most exquisite wonders. You ponder better exclusivity and quality over a lower price. You all want to feel comfortable, leave time and space for everyone to fulfill their personal desires.

What are we going to test?

  • Start by going to Kayak, Skyscanner, Trip Advisor and Hopper just for mobile
  • Compare at least three of these apps for your selected user type/scenario.
  • Once identified the one that performs better for selected user type (consider accessibility, value proposition, features, etc.) perform usability testing to understand how it could get even better and help people travel the world!

How to compare Tools?

Conduct Usability Heuristics evaluation with Nielsen’s Principles (1994). Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design.

A heuristic evaluation is a usability inspection method for software that helps to identify usability problems in the user interface (UI) design. It specifically involves evaluators examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles (Kelly, 2017, link).

Heuristic evaluation has been broken down into 10 different categories. They are as follows:

www.coursera.com

I’m going to highlight only a few heuristics as result of my evaluation here. Conducting a proper evaluation for each app should be an individual case study for future. Here there is an example as a reference.

Heuristic 6: Recognition rather than recall

Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.

Let’s conduct this approach and compare TripAdvisor (on the left) and Kayak user interface. In TripAdvisor App, when the user chooses one of the features and starts proceeding, he wouldn’t be able to see other features anymore (see screen 2 from the left). Kayak Interface on the other hand, promotes recognition showing available commands that user can benefit and helps user in remembering information.

Heuristic 8: Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

Relevant information is “signal,” while irrelevant information is “noise”. A high signal–to–noise ratio is a key outcome for any UX professional’s work, in terms of both content and page design.

It doesn’t mean that using a flat design or a monochromatic color palette, it is more about keeping the content and the visual design of the UI focused on the essentials. To improve the efficiency of communicating information through designs and to help users complete their tasks aim to high signal to noise ratio. Every extra unit of information in a UI, competes with the essential units of information.

Comparing Skyscanner and Kayak homepage according to the Heuristic 8:

We all need some inspiration, so my user type do. Considering “explore” as an essential task here, every extra unit in the Skyscanner homepage might be framed as “noise” referring the Heuristic #8. Kayak App on the other hand, placing the essential feature button on the homepage and users proceed with the task gradually.

Testing

After identifying the Kayak APP that performs better for my selected user type, time for performing usability testing to understand how it could get even better and help people travel the world!

For this task, we were asked to perform five seconds usability testing. Five second testing is a qualitative research method in which you show a test-user a screenshot of your website or product — for five seconds only. It is a form of usability testing that allows to measure how well a design quickly communicates a message.

For this task I preferred an online tool performing five seconds test.

I used the visual of Kayak homepage and asked the user following questions after showing the visual for 5 seconds:

  • What do you think this app was about?
  • What can this tool do for you?
  • What is your first impression about the tool?
  • What words or sentences can you recall?

Findings

Interviewees’ insight in general about the App was positive. Homepage itself was clear enough to communicate the essential tasks in five seconds. They defined the first impression as positive with words such as useful, traveller friendly, easy to navigate, simple etc. However, the words they recalled and in describing what to do with the app was more about flight booking. My user type is flexible and looking for exclusivity over a lower price. Holiday packages Kayak offers that are adjustable to several different expectations (they are a group of people) would be very useful for my user type.

Earlier mentioned in Heuristic #6, Kayak App promotes recognition showing available commands that user can retrieve between essentials. Considering this as an advantage, it seems it might have side effects such as not each essential being clearly communicated enough.

I wouldn’t call this as a pain point, thus I can call this as a room for development.

Trip advisor App shows available features equally visible on the home page but not offering those available features for recognition when user starts proceeding with one of the features.

Kayak App on the other hand, showing available features on top regardless the essential selection of the user. However, the user interface that doesn’t show the available features equally visible at first so that my user type can’t retrieve the holiday option by the first look.

Solution

How may we make all the available features equally visible by the first look for Kayak App users and still keep the menu function visible on top regardless the essential selection of the user?

Here is my solution is adding an onboarding screen showing the options equally visible. User after acknowledging all of the options, selects one of them.

User then continue proceeding action with his selection. The one he selected is visually more visible while other options promotes recognition showing available commands that user can retrieve.

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Ipek Bogatur

User Experience and User Interface Designer (UXUI), Visual Communication, User Research, Customer Experience Design