Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte
These are the main recommendations after the 3rd round of usability testing done using the 8th version of the wireframe prototype found at keyzz.com/prototype8:
1 — Streamline and predict user’s actions on “List a property” process funnel
Creating a property listing is one of the main tasks of the Web site and it should be optimized to offer a more engaging and efficient experience. The prototype tested asked for all the questions necessary to create the most complete listing possible. However most of the users tested were overwhelmed by the amount of information asked from them. A solution for this problem would be to create a sequence of steps that: a) asks only for the minimum information necessary to create an effective listing; b) are dynamically integrated so that each step offers the user options based on selections made on previous steps; and c)are pre-filled with most common answers or suggestions. Here are some examples:
a. On the first step the users should only see the field where he can enter his address. Once the address is entered and confirmed by the user the rest of the form can appear with questions consistent with the address entered.
b. Users do not need to input the neighborhood name. They should be able to choose from a list of available and searchable neighborhood names. For cities where there are no neighborhood names on the database, that question simply does not appear on the form and consequently the option to filter results by neighborhood will not appear on the search refinement section of the search results page.
c. It is not necessary to ask the user whether he wants to show street view or not. That feature should be automatically turned on and the user should have an option to turn it off later (provided that he knows that the street view is adjusted to not show the user’s actual street address).
d. There should be contextual tips that appear whenever a new form field receives focus as well as in-line validation whenever it is possible.
e. On the second step of the process the amenity options should be populated according to the choices made on the previous step (e.g., if the user selects “house” as the property type, “doorman” and “elevator in the building” are not viable amenity options.
f. Extra services is a great feature but it can be overwhelming for first time users. Instead of displaying all the options on the screen there should be a descriptions of what they mean and a button to display them.
g. On the last step, a cancellation policy should be pre-selected based on the user’s past choice or the average policy should be pre-selected in the case of first time users. The same applies for all other fields in this step.
2 — The burden of having to choose a property rate
Choosing a property rate is an essential but also a very delicate task. It is also a great opportunity to prove to the user that the Web site really intends to make the process of listing a property the easiest possible. That can be done by offering users suggestions for rate ranges based on the size, type, and location of their property. That suggestion will be based on prices of other similar properties listed on the Web site. In case of cities where there are no other properties listed, the suggested range should be wider. Any help filling out this required question is better than no help at all.
Experienced users or property management professionals should have the option of adding alternative rates in the form of a link bellow to the field.
3 — Calendar start “all booked”
When users are creating a listing the property’s availability calendar is expected to have all days available by default. However that can represent a serious problem for a Web site that intends to offer instant booking. The reason is that instant booking’s success depends on up to date and correctly filled availability calendars. So, if a user don’t feel like updating the calendar at the time the list is created (e.g., new users not familiar with the concepts), that can mean cancellation of booking by the host down the line. One solution for this problem is to show the calendar completely booked at first and ask for the user to pick the dates that the property will be available. Another solution is to ask the users a few questions before shoing the calendar like for instance whether they live in the property or not, and if they do the calendar is shown all booked. The intention of all this is to force the user to stop and think about the calendar and all that it means and to educate the user about his options and their consequences.
4 — Instant booking everywhere
There should be a visual differentiation between properties that have instant booking ON and properties that don’t. That way users would feel compelled to learn more about it. There should also be a description of what instant booking is whenever it is mentioned throughout the Web site. And whenever a user turns it ON some of the guest requirements should be pre-selected by default.
5 — Booking notification vs. booking request
Understanding the difference between a booking notification and a booking request is the same as understanding the concept of instant booking versus inquiry based booking. That is the single most important concept of the Web site and its assimilation by the user cannot be underestimated. There should be visual clues as well as rollover descriptions and maybe even pop up tips for first time users describing the idea and what is expected from the user.
6 — Progressive engagement on the rates and calendar page
The ability to create alternate rates is a gift for more experienced users but it can be overwhelming for new users. This fact makes the rates page a good candidate for progressive engagement with smart defaults. The user should only see the sections of the page that he is interested in.
The user should see that there are options to customize the rates further if he decides to do so. If there is only one rate, the calendar should give the option of choosing other rates. If the user inputs an alternate rate in more than two days the system should show that the rates can be customized on the rates page.
On the rates page, the first field should be the base rate (the rate entered when the property listing was created). Bellow that there should be questions asking whether the user wants to create: a different rate for guests staying over a week; a different rate for guests staying over a month; a different rate for different seasons; or different rates for different days of the week; or different rates for holidays; or a discount rate; or different rates for different number of guests. Each one of this options should add or subtract an amount to the base rate.
7 — Progressive engagement on the additional service page as well
On the additional services page, each of the services should only show its options once selected. The options should be explained clearly and they will vary according to the service (e.g., airport pick up should be priced per person and not per day; parking, use of gym, and use of pool/hot tub should be either included or paid on check-in because those are very subjective and guests can only make an informed decision once they see what they’re paying for; Laundry and house cleaning should be paid per service and there should be an option to choose how many times they are needed; and breakfast should be paid per day and there should be an option to choose how many days within the whole stay. Any extra service or amenity added by the host cannot be pre-paid.
8 — Suggested tasks section
The suggested tasks section is a dynamic section of the dashboard with little notes with suggestions of tasks that might help users optimize their experience in the Web site, and reminds them of existing features (e.g., adding more pictures to a listing, reviewing a guest or a property, turning on instant booking, updating a property’s calendar, etc). Once the user does what is being suggested the reminder note goes away. However it can become annoying for experienced users or users who decide not to do what the reminder note says. One solution for that is to have a couple of buttons on each reminder note that appears when the user rolls over it. One button to close that note for the current session and another to not show that specific note never again.
9 — Mobile notifications
E-mail notifications are mandatory for hosts and guests. Mobile notifications is a very useful feature for hosts who do not use instant booking. A suggestion to turn it on should appear at the ‘Suggested tasks section’ whenever a user lists the first property and only disappear when the feature is activated or if the user asks not to be reminded of it again.
- Final Design Specifications requirements
- Student presentations
Due next week
- Start working on final report.
3rd Usability Testing — User Tasks
Task 1 — Sign up and create 1st property listing.
This task’s goal is to make the users go through the sign up process as well as go through the steps necessary to create a new listing. By the end of the task they user will have an account with one property listing active in it.
The task will ask the user to input his own personal information. Throughout the task there are too many form fields that need to be filled out and it would be easier to have the user enter information that he/she is already familiar to, since none of the required fields requires specialized or unique information.
The one information that will be provided is the name of the image file that should be uploaded as a property photo.
The main assumption made for this task is that the user can remember, describe, and answer questions about the place where they are currently living.
Instructions for users:
Please imagine that you were transferred to work in another state for one year and you decided to rent out your current apartment as a vacation rental in order to make some extra money and help you pay the mortgage. After some research you decided to use Keyzz.com to list and manage your property.
Your first task is to create an account at our Web site and list your property. You can use your own name, email and personal information.
Imagine you are renting out the property where you currently live. Feel free to create a listing that you think people would be more interested in staying.
For the sake of brevity, please follow these directions:
- You do not need to set up alternative rates for your property. You should only decide on a single rate to be used in the listing.
- You also do not need to worry about updating the availability calendar in this task. You will be doing that on a later task.
- Pretend that you only have one picture of your apartment right now (file 1. jpg) . You can upload more pictures at a later time.
- Do not add any additional services yet. You will be asked to do that in a later task. For now just choose the amenities that match the property where you live.
Good luck creating your first property listing!
The property listing process is the most time consuming process there is on the Web site, and for that reason it needs to be tested and improved to provide users (hosts) with the best possible way to create listings, an essential task.
Task 2 — Set up instant booking
This task’s goal is to test whether of not regular first time users can understand the concept of traditional booking versus instant booking and whether they can locate and activate instant booking on existing property listings. By the end of this task the user should have found the Instant Booking page, activated it, and created conditions for its application.
The task will suggest under which conditions Instant Booking should apply. However, the user will have the freedom to set up the Instant Booking conditions as he/she pleases.
This task assumes that the user understand what a property booking is and the difference between the traditional booking model used by hotels versus the booking model traditionally used by short term vacation rentals.
Instructions for users:
After using this Web site for a few weeks, you notice that some listings offer the guests the possibility of immediate booking, without having to wait for availability confirmation from the property host. In other words, some properties can be booked right away on the same day, just as you do when you book a hotel.
After considering that for a while, you decide that you want the same for your property listing. Please find a way to activate that feature on your property listing for the property Bellevue Apartment.
Please take into consideration that by doing so, guests will be able to book your property directly without you having a chance to confirm or decline their request. You will receive a booking notification instead of a booking request. So be mindful of the conditions you specify when activating this feature.
Instant booking is the most important feature of this Web site and what differentiates it from the competition. Finding the best way to integrate this feature with other more conventional features is essential to convince users of its potential when it comes to attracting more guests and streamlining the booking process.
Task 3 — Set up automatic notifications
This task’s goal is to locate and change the pre-set options for automatic notifications.
Users will be asked to activate mobile text messages if/when certain events occurs. These events will be explained in details under the task instructions.
This task assumes that the user understand what text messages are and that he/she can provide a fictitious contact mobile number that can be used for text messaging.
Instructions for users:
Now imagine that your current job does not allow you to stay in front of a computer all day or that you can’t use your work computer for personal affairs. You need a way to be notified whenever you get a new booking notification or booking request. Specially when you get a booking request, because you need to answer that request ASAP.
Please explore the Web site and check whether there is a feature that can help you in this situation.
If you find such feature, you can use your own personal information to set it up.
Task 4 — Check for new booking requests and confirm availability
This task’s goal is to check if there are any new booking requests in the account’s inbox, and if there are, to confirm availability of the property and finalize booking.
The user only has to check and confirm the booking request. Writing a message to the guest is optional.
This task assumes that there will be at least one booking request in the inbox waiting to be answered.
Instructions for users:
Now imagine that you have two properties listed on your account: Bellevue Apartment and The Pipj Studio.
Please check if there is any interest from guests in renting any of those apartments, and if there are, please answer according to what the Web site is suggesting.
Confirm and decline of booking requests is an essential part of the booking process, and for that reason it needs to be tested and improved.
Task 5 — Find guest’s contact details for an specific booking notification
This task’s goal is to test the speed at which the user can find the contact information of a guest whose booking has been already confirmed. By the end of the task the user should have the phone number and email address of a given guest.
A guest name and booking dates will be given to the user.
This task assumes that the user understand the difference between a confirmed booking at a booking request.
Instructions for users:
There was a very strong storm over the weekend and the roof of one of your properties (The Pipj Studio) was damaged. You won’t be able to get it fixed before the next guest’s check-in date. You will have to cancel that booking.
But then you have an idea. Instead of cancelling the booking you will call the guest as soon as possible to offer her another property for the same price.
Her name is Patricia Botwin and her check-in date is December 3rd. Please find her contact details.
Automatic bookings made through Instant Booking reveal the contact details of the guests who made them. That way users have more options to communicate.
Task 6 — Cancel an existing booking
This task’s goal is to test the booking cancellation process. By the end of the task the user will have found an specific upcoming booking and will have cancelled it.
The user has to pick a reason for cancellation and write his/her name. Writing a message to the guest is optional.
This task assumes that there will be at least one upcoming confirmed booking that can be requested. It also assumes that users will know that in order to be cancelled by the host, a booking needs to be already confirmed.
Instructions for users:
After the storm you called the guest but after hearing what you had to say she decided not to stay in the property you suggested. Your only option now is to cancel her booking on the property that got damaged.
Please find any upcoming bookings for The Pipj Studio and cancel them accordingly. Feel free to write the guest a message if you feel like it.
Cancelling of a booking by the host is a very delicate process with serious consequences for both the host and the guest. The Web site’s responsibility is to inform the host of all possible consequences of his actions and that deciding to cancel a booking is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Task 7 — Edit pricing details of a property
This task’s goal is to test the detailed pricing section of the application. By the end of the task the user should have been able to specify different rates for different times of the year, days of the week, and for different conditions (discount, holiday). The final rates should be $120/weekday and $140/weekend between May 15 and September 15, $70/weekday and $90/weekend between September 16 and May 14.
The user will be given rates that match different situations.
This task assumes that the user understand the concept of high and low season when it comes to accommodation rates, as well as the idea that prices should be higher during holidays and on weekends. It also assumes that the user can solve simple mathematical equations to find a weekly and monthly rate once a daily rate is given.
Instructions for users:
Now we’re going set up a property’s rate. Rates should change according to the time of the year, the day of the week, and the amount of days that are being booked at once.
Please change the rates for property The Pipj Apartment. Take into consideration that this property is located in a city that receives most of its tourists during the Summer, from mid-May to mid-September.
The daily rate for the property during the Summer is $120 for weekdays and $20 is added to that on weekends. Guests who stay a whole week or more pay only $750 per week. And guests who stay at least a month pay $2300 per month.
For the rest of the year the rate is $70 during the week and $90 on weekends. The weekly rate is $430 and the monthly rate is $1500.
Whenever there is a holiday (Christmas, Easter, New Year) the daily prices go up to $150.
Save your changes.
Task 8 — Update availability calendar of a given property
This task’s goal is to test the interface of the property’s availability calendar. By the end of the task the user will have the calendar updated according to the given schedule.
An availability schedule will be given to the user, as well as the rates to be used.
This task assumes that the user was relatively successful on the previous task.
Instructions for users:
For the sake of this task, let’s pretend today is December 1st and you just got a call from some friends asking to rent your property (The Pipj Studio) for Christmas, from December 23rd till December 27th.
The system will not automatically update your property’s calendar because your friends did not use the Web site to book the property. Keeping your property’s availability calendar up to date is very important to avoid booking conflicts and cancellations.
Please update the calendar manually and mark those dates as unavailable for booking since the property will be occupied by your friends.
While you are at it, please change the rate for December 31st (New Years Eve) to a holiday rate since you anticipate higher demand for accommodations at that time of the year.
Updating of the availability calendar is one of the least intuitive tasks in the Web site and one of the most important ones. It is essential that it be tested and improved as much as possible.
Task 9 — Add/Edit additional services
This task’s goal is to test the interface of the property’s additional services feature, specially its labels and overall taxonomy. By the end of the task the user will have set up two different additional services for one of his properties.
The user will receive the details of the services that he will be asked to set up.
This task assumes that the user understands the difference of pre-paying for a service versus paying at the time of check in.
Instructions for users:
After renting out your properties for a few months you notice that most of your guests ask you about the best places around for breakfast. And some of your guests arrive by car and complain that street parking is too expensive and cheaper parking is too far from your property.
You see all that as an opportunity to provide extra services to your guests in order to improve their overall experience and make some extra money.
Set up two additional services for the Bellevue Apartment.
The first is a continental style breakfast, and you will charge $15 per day and expect guests to pay for it along with the total rent fee.
The second is parking. You you also charge $15 per day but you prefer to wait until the guest arrives and sees you private garage because it is too small and not all cars can fit in it. So you will charge for the parking after you talk to the guest in person.
Save your changes.
Task 10 — Submit a review for a guest’s stay at a property
This task’s goal is to test the interface of the guest review feature, specially its location on the dashboard.
The user will be instructed on what to write on the review as well as which guest they will be reviewing.
This task assumes that there are past guests in the system that were not reviewed yet.
Instructions for users:
The best way to convince potential guests of the benefits of staying at your property is to have positive property reviews in your property’s listing. And the best way to get those positive property reviews is to write positive guest reviews of the guests who stayed at your property. That way when they read your kind words they will feel motivated to write good things about your property. Please write and submit a guest review for one of your past guests — Roy Litkins — who stayed at the Bellevue Apartment. Give him a 5 star rating and write that it was a pleasure to have him and his wife as guests.
This task is left for last due to its non essential nature. It will be performed if users still have time to do so after performing all tasks that come before it.
Here’s the complete User Testing Plan for the 3rd round of usability testing:
- Change of direction form
- iOS Human Interface Guideline
- Include confirmation screen when accepting or declining a booking request.
- Improve bookings page, including changing labels and label positions.
Due next week
- Revisions on final prototype and user testing plan.
- Room77.com has a great concept: empowering hotel guests by informing them which are the best rooms at a given hotel.
- The problem is that users are not able to see the availability calendar of that room or book it from the website. All the user get in the end of the experience is instructions on where to call and how to talk to the front desk clerks of those hotels. The Web site is still in its beta version and not many hotels populate their database. However it has great potential, specially if they decide to show user generated pictures of the views and the rooms, as well as guest’s reviews.
What can I take from room77.com?
- Keyzz.com should encourage hosts to post pictures of the views from their properties as well as its surroundings and nearby attractions.
- A “view” based search option for guests. If at least one property picture is tagged as a “view” picture, guests could view search results that compare properties’ “views”.
- Google Maps extensive customization.
What should I avoid based on room77.com’s Web site?
- Search refinement that hides the options or uses non-conventional symbols to communicate filter options.
- The Web site does not have offer a tool or feature to help the users to find rooms that matches their budgets. Under the “room category” filter there are three options divided according to room’s prices, but it does not give a real or ballpark price or price range. That means that for most users, room77.com is a Web site that needs to be used in conjunction to at least one other Web site in order to fulfill the user’s main need which is to find a hotel room.
Due next week
- User testing plan for “Host” User Testing
Based on the results of the user testing and the comments made by actual users, the following recommendations were made. The following issues were encountered in the testing and have relevant impact on the design of the Web site. They are listed in order of importance:
1. Search refinement feature
Guests who are looking for a property should be able to refine their search based on any of the amenities that are present in the properties being searched. One option is to initially show only the most popular amenities and have a button saying “show more amenities” that expands the list of filterable amenities in the search refinement panel.
The “Dashboard” button should be more prominent on the page and once the user logs in, he should be able to see the dashboard instead of staying at the homepage. On the dashboard there should be a “Find properties” field.
3. Map with neighborhoods
The search refinement would be a lot more successful if there was a division of the city map in areas or neighborhoods. A more visual search refinement would be fun and engaging to use.
4. Check in and check out
If check in and check out dates are not on the homepage, those fields will need to be present in the property page. It is not enough to have them at the search results page. And either they will be pre-filled with suggested dates or the “Book Now” button won’t be active until user chooses the dates.
5. Review page before booking
Users were confused about the booking confirmation page. It is not clear if the booking was done of if there is still a chance to change booking details. There should be a “Review page” between the booking page and the booking confirmation page.
6. Exclusive Hosting Feature
Users who represent property management companies or that use the website exclusively to rent out their properties can turn off the “guest” features of their account by choosing to “Turn on Exclusive Hosting” on the profile section of the dashboard. That way features like the wish list and my bookings won’t be a distraction on the dashboard.
Bellow is the complete report written after the conclusion of the 2nd round of usability testing:
- Student presentations of wireframes.
- Evaluate www.room77.com.
Due next week
- Finish “Host” part of the prototype.
- Competitive analysis for www.room77.com
I was absent to the classes on 03/30/2011 and 04/06/2011.
- SSNiF presentations of students.
Due next week
- 2nd user testing report of findings.
User testing scripts and tasks revised after 3rd test during the second round of user testing.
- Created pages to simulate “compose new message” flow since there is a possibility that on user task 3 the user might send a message to host from dashboard.
- Minor revisions of prototype.
- Caen.canada.travel has a tool to identify different types of travelers.
- Mind map presentations.
- Videos about new social network based user experiences (World Park, Table Turntable, Ideo The Future of Book, Ideo ATM Machine)
- SSNiF (Stakeholders, Scenario, Need & Features)
- Keep working on the visual design. Try different typeface combinations.
- Using only slab serifs make the visual look old west’ish.
Due next week
- SSNiF Analysis of my project, focusing on user needs and features for hosts and property managers.
Here’s the revised version of the information architecture diagram:
Bellow is the User Testing Script and Tasks revised after the pilot test for the second round of usability testing to be conducted in the next few weeks:
After pilot test was done, the following changes were made to the prototype to allow a more consistent and realistic experience for users being tested:
- The sign up and log in flow were fixed.
- List Your Property is now List a property.
- The map on property page reflects the map on search results page.
- Property details were fixed to reflect the details on the tasks.
- Property listings were changed to give a more realistic impression of the search results.
- Email message from host to guest was changed to better reflect the scenario proposed by the task.
- Fixed task 5 instructions and pages on prototype in order to be consistent to the overall scenario proposed by the task.
- Fixed task 8 instructions so it does not tip the user about what must be done (cannot use the term wish list, the user needs to guess that).
- On the Your Profile page the add a picture feature was created to simulate the real feature.
- The search details section of the Search Results page was fixed to reflect the details given by the user task.
- Details of the Booking page were changed to reflect the details of the user task 2.
- Lecture and video about mind maps.
- User testing with Kathleen.
- User testing text needs general revision to improve clarity, use a more user friendly language, and improve creation of a consistent scenario for the users.
Due next week
- Revised User Testing Plan
- Booking cancellation sequence for guest side prototype.
Bellow is the User Testing Plan for the second round of usability testing to be conducted in the next few weeks:
- Lecture: Content, User Generated Content, Content Inventory
- Individual feedback
- User reviews should have the button “Report this” to stimulate self regulation of user generated content.
- User generated content: how to engage users into participating, how to regulate the content being generated.
- Content Inventory can be done in content maps: infographics describing content, including where it will be used, where it comes from, how it will be displayed, where it fits in the overall website’s database.
- Divide content inventory in two parts: user generated and static content.
- Make a big map of the user generated content color coding it by where each piece of information comes in and where it is displayed.
- List non user generated content and whether it is ready or not.
After pilot test of the user testing prototype, change the following:
- Improve log in and sign up interface and flow (it’s not working right now), as well as improve the wording of those sections on the tasks.
- Change neighborhood on property information on the little boxes that appear on the map.
- Change label “List Your Property” to “List a property”.
- Change log in fields on top to a secondary nav bar containing Log In, Register, etc.
- Fix prototype so that on the property page when the user clicks on “Book Now”, it goes to Sign Up page.
Due next week
- Refine existing content inventory, including content maps and content description of each page.
- Refine prototype after pilot test.
- Go to Usability Lab and set up user test on Moray.