About the project
This study has been developed as capstone project for the Usability Design course of the UOC University of Barcelona.
Overview (Biz / Company)
The object of this research is Clubfinds.com, a website for online booking of hotels and leisure activities (tickets, excursions etc), active for more than 10 years and based in Súria (Barcelona, Spain).
The web presented problems and limitations at the usability level, some of them evident from the beginning.
The objective of this study is to find and identify these usability problems systematically, and classify them according to their order of criticality.
Users & Audience
The target of the website is travel agencies and private customers. These acquire the status of partners by confirming their first reservation and subscribing to the newsletter.
During the second phase of the study (the process of preparing the usability test) I used the Persona technique to represent three types of users that might use the website.
Roles & Responsibilities
My role throughout the investigation phases:
1st phase: evaluate the web according to the principles of the heuristic evaluation.
2nd phase: plan and execute the usability test as facilitator and observer role.
3rd phase: classify and analyze the data.
The study of this website has been carried out taking into account the model of Human Centered Design, whose objective is to create products that users find useful and usable, and that meet their needs.
In the first phase of this investigation I examined the quality of the use of the web interface based on compliance with the heuristic principles of usability.
In the second phase of the study I conducted a usability test with different users, based on previously defined tasks and scenarios and under my observation.
In the third phase I have compiled, classified and analyzed the usability problems of the web, identified in the previous phases.
The heuristic evaluation has been carried out based on the SIRIUS evaluation system proposed by Mª del Carmen Suárez Torrente and using the Checklist for the evaluation of web usability according to the Sirius methodology provided on its website by the specialist Olga Carreras Montoto.
The percentage value of the usability level of the site has been 51.97.
Before starting the test with users, based on a study of the web and the analysis of competitors, I have defined three possible representations of web users, using the Persona technique.
It helped me to create the user test script and all its documents keeping the target of the web in mind at all times.
To identify and assess the possible usability problems of Clubfinds.com, a series of tasks have been defined, which the participants have done in the test on the web, under my observation. These tasks affect the main functionalities of the web, and reflect use cases that coincide with the expectations and needs of the users.
Before starting the test with users, based on a study of the web and the analysis of competitors, I have defined three possible representations of web users, using the Persona technique. It helped me to create the user test script and all its documents keeping the target of the web in mind at all times.
Documentation & Plan I have produced for the user test phase:
- Screening questions
- Pre-test questions
- Scenarios and tasks
- Post-tasks questions
- Post-test questions
- Authorization Document
The metrics used for the analysis of the data collected from the observation of the user while performing the tasks provided in the test have been:
- Efficiency (completeness of the task)
- Errors occurred
- Error metrics when entering data
- The user does not access to the correct page
- Time spent
- Number of clicks
- Pages visited
- Satisfaction: subjective or perceived usability, assessed after each task, through questions (see post-task questionnaire).
Findings from the research
Once the results of the heuristic analysis and the usability test have been compiled, I have analyzed and ordered the problems found on the web according to the level of criticality.
In this section I present some of the most relevant improvement opportunities that belong to a high level of criticality. All the possibilities of improvement are collected in the final usability report, explaining in detail each one of them and providing solutions.
The most relevant improvement opportunities
- The purposes of the website and the services offered are not entirely clear to users
- Random behaviors (i.e.: suggested results in search field, reservation form)
Lack of efficiency in error messages
- When an error occurs, the user is not informed clearly and not alarmingly of what happened and how to solve the problem.
Limited Validation Systems
- There are no validation systems, before the user sends information, to try to avoid errors.
Lack of help and user support documentation
Search section inadequate and confusing
- Confusing search engine title and purpose.
- Search section not accessible
Efficiency and flexibility issues
- Lack of efficient «accelerators» to make their use more comfortable and more productive
Navigation structure not suitable
- Confusing labels
- Blinking labels (the user understands that they indicate their position in the context of the web)
- Inappropriate criteria for label positions
- Lack of systems to filter the contents
- Lack of an adequate study of information architecture
Missing navigation element that locates the user
Outcomes & Lessons
The usability test has been crucial for the investigation, through this technique it has been possible to prove how the problems of the website were deeply rooted in relevant and essential elements such as transmitting a clear and well defined business idea or giving the user the fundamental tools to complete the necessary tasks within the web.
As a project study, the result has been satisfactory for me, being able to apply two of the most used techniques in the user experience research environment.