The design of everyday items is not always completely intuitive, which leaves users frustrated due to their inability to complete simple tasks due to bad design. The basic element of user centred interface design is a process or development cycle in which users influence how design takes shapes. User centred design involves consulting user at each step in the design process. When doing user centred interface design the main focus is usability. Even simple designs involve a large number of aspects that have to be considered.
Websites such as TripAdvisor, lastminute.com, booking.com and Expedia have the closest functionality to Travel Search. There are a few of problems with these sites' designs, the main one being the amount of clutter on the landing pages as well as the scrolling required on the home page to get to all the information. All the above websites provide a range of features for example, lastminute.com offers a range of different search selections that can be accessed via various tabs.
First step is the creation of personae so as to establish a base of potential users and what their different requirements of the system may be. This is important as it helps the designer gain knowledge of the different types of users. The next step is to decide on the tasks that would be performed by users on the website. These are then analysed and documented. Followed by taking a look at similar existing designs in order to reuse the components that we think worked well in the past and may work well for us. This leads to the beginning of the iterative process as shown below
With the goal being, the implementation of an easy to use system, we used a user centred approach as a result of realising the importance of the user early in the development cycle. The purpose of a user-centred design is to allow designers to model user attributes and tasks . An agile iterative design approach was also implemented in the quest to design a user friendly interface.
In this project we saw the effects of iterative development on problem solving. This was very interesting as we saw that the First prototypes had numerous problems according to users. As more iterations were done, the problems exponentially decreased. In comparing this user interface to the other holiday planning websites such as TripAdvisor we see that Travel Search has some similarities to the other websites. There are some differences in functionality, mainly the input bar that takes a descriptive word or phrase as input. A very minimalistic user interface was implemented that users could use very easily with little learning required.
We found that paper prototypes were effective in laying out initial design and clearing up some confusion but very ineffective in sourcing out potential problems with the system. This is as a result of users doing very well with the paper prototypes but in the next iteration, the users did not do particularly well as numerous problems surfaced. All the user interface requirements were met. An input bar was made and under it a drop down with departure cities. Also implemented were the optional departure and return date as well as the minimum and maximum price bars. Innovation and new user experience were met partially through the results page as the presentation of results is unlike that of other holiday websites.
During the interactive prototypes we saw a very low rate of people getting to book a flight whereas by the last iteration, we saw a 100% booking.
Ngoni.Choga@alumni dot uct dot ac dot za