Usability Testing of Travel Websites

Peer-reviewed Article

pp. 47-61Download full article (PDF)

Abstract

A usability study was conducted to identify usability problems
as well as recommendations for improvement for three travel sales websites.
The study performed testing on twenty participants, between the ages of
19 and 65, recruited from the university campus consisting of students,
faculty, and staff. The three websites tested were Expedia.com,
Orbitz.com, and Travelocity.com.
Each participant was given general instructions and a pre-survey to determine
their demographics and level of Internet experience. The usability study
tested participants on the task of finding the same itinerary on each travel
website. The participant during testing was under observation of the experimenter
that maintained an observation log. A post-survey along with a debriefing
session was conducted to gather additional feedback. The average testing
time for participants was 30 minutes. The results of this study are presented
as well as a future research discussion consisting of the development of
usability guidelines for designers of travel websites.

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • Prior to website implementation, practitioners must perform simple measures
    to ensure accessibility such as testing the compatibility of the website
    with screen reader downloads.
  • The post-survey revealed insight into users’ preferences in terms of
    recommendations for improvement focused on the need for less cluttered
    pages within the travel sales websites. This can be achieved through the
    use of more white space along with surveying users to identify the type
    of information that users deem important for display.
  • Capability for narrow searches was also a recommendation for improvement
    identified in the post-survey that was given for all three websites. Practitioners
    can accomplish this through the design of more in-depth search capabilities
    enabling users to perform more narrow searches specific to time of day,
    types of aircraft, and airline companies.