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.