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Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December 2005 1 Tourism British Columbia Australian Website: Usability Findings NOVEMBER 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December 2005 1 Tourism British Columbia Australian Website: Usability Findings NOVEMBER 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Tourism British Columbia Australian Website: Usability Findings NOVEMBER 2005

2 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Presentation Overview  Research Objectives  Testing Approach & Target Audience  Findings & Observations  Recommendations  Next Steps  Questions….

3 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Research Objectives To review the naming of regions, places and categorisation of sights, activities and events on the current Tourism BC website, to ensure that they are meaningful for an Australian audience. To test how well the North American website performs with an Australian audience To develop an Australian Tourism BC website prototype which supports the Australian personas specific user needs and to test the prototype to uncover any usability issues or ambiguities. To analyse the user feedback and make recommendations that will ensure the Australian website is optimally focused to the Australian audience

4 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Approach  One-on-one sessions  hours per session  Three Rounds:  Testing the existing North American site with an Australian audience and determining an SAE categorisation structure through card sorting  Testing an Australian prototype with updated navigation and new content based on previous research and Round 1 testing  Testing a revised version of the Australian prototype updated with user feedback from Round 2 testing

5 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Participants  Total of 20 participants  50/50 Mix of Males to Females  Keen travellers – have recently been on or planning an overseas holiday  Australians by birth or have lived in Australia for an extended period of time (long enough to call Australia home).  Reasonably comfortable online. They should use the internet to conduct research for their holidays.

6 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Ski Orientated Travellers  Sally & Pete Roberts  Age range: 25 – 45  Keen & active skiers – usually take at least one local ski trip a year  Have recently been on or are planning an overseas ski holiday in the next year (around two to three weeks in duration)  Prefers outdoors/activity based holidays  Total: 7 Skiers

7 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Tour Based Travellers  Myra & John Cook  Age range: 60+ (possibly retired)  Older travellers looking for “once in a lifetime” travel experiences  Have recently been on or are planning a long haul overseas holiday (around 6 weeks in duration)  Prefer organised tour based holidays  Total: 8 Tour Based Travellers

8 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Independent Traveller  Jill Davidson  Age range: 18 – 30  Independent traveller looking for work opportunities overseas  Have recently been on or are planning an extended overseas trip including a working holiday (more than 3 months in duration)  Prefers independent travel  Total: 5 Independents

9 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Findings & Recommendations Overview Getting to the website First impressions Exploring what the site has to offer Finding specific information & completing goals Absorbing the information Gaining a spatial awareness of Canada & BC Finding out if BC is the right holiday destination Completing the booking process Final impressions Next steps to further improvements

10 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Getting to the website….

11 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Getting to the website: Findings URL & search summary copy not very effective “HelloBC… that looks like a site that is going to try and sell me something” Most Users looked to the main title first and then the URL to determine if a site was useful to them Users have heard of Canada but usually not British Columbia, especially the shortened version BC. “BC” was not understood as short for British Columbia Hello BC does not fit with the Australian mental model of official Tourism site. It was rarely identified as the “official site” of Tourism BC – users tended to pick or Google was the search engine of choice for 100% of people interviewed

12 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Getting to the website: Findings URL & search summary copy not very effective

13 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Getting to the website: Recommendation Recommendations to improve access to the website via Search Always spell out BC to British Columbia Tell users that British Columbia is part of Canada eg British Columbia, Canada Include the words “official site” within the search result description Reconsider the URL of the site to reflect the accepted standard for official tourism website URLs in Australia eg or

14 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December First Impressions….

15 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December First impressions: Findings Impressions of the homepage evolved with each design iteration I like it…the map is a bit confusing – it is too small and I think it would be clearer if it showed the rest of Canada & America as well” “it’s a bit uninspiring – i cant see anything that I really want to click on” “I can’t find any links to ski information and I’m not sure where to look – I would expect it to be here somewhere” “I like visual of the four seasons, without reading I can tell that I’d like to go there when it is snowing, & Its good to know what I can do at those times of the year” “I like the banner image – gives me good picture of what I would expect to see. These are the kind of pictures that I already have in my head about Canada” ““Its appealing…straight away the pictures are eye catching” Round 1Round 2Round 3 “Right well, I now know where British Columbia is now…its not on the east coast after all” “I usually go straight to the main navigation and I like how i can easily find it on this page – I’d probably just miss all this stuff in the front and go straight to what I’m looking for”

16 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December First impressions: Findings Users focused primarily on the imagery and visual elements (such as the map) when making their first impression judgements Positive first impressions were dependant on the imagery or the map being appealing and useful to the user interviewed Experienced internet users looked immediately for navigation bar to get straight to the most relevant content

17 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December First impressions: Recommendations Decide who is your most valuable Australian target audience and select a banner image that appeals to this target audience – skiers, tour based travellers and independent travellers are very different in what they find appealing Use SAE links and seasonal imagery to draw in the other two audience types Make the global navigation tool bar one of the most prominent features on the page

18 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the site…

19 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the Site: Findings The homepage did not initially entice visitors to explore the site further The homepage didn’t entice users into the content – once in lower level pages user commented how useful the information was but that there are not enough clues on the homepage to indication what information is contain within Lack of spatial awareness of BC for Australian users limited the usefulness of the map and regional links in drawing users into the detailed content Users did not always notice the global navigation Ski and tour based travellers especially commented that there was nothing about their particular travel needs highlighted on the homepage

20 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the Site: Findings Imagery is very important for engaging users interest with British Columbia and the content of the site “a picture is worth a thousand words – a destination name means nothing but a picture makes me wonder ‘where is that?’”

21 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the Site: Findings Australian users preferred to explore the site by “things to do and see” rather than by destination Due to a limited knowledge of the regions and cities, users generally have an SAE focus when entering the site. Once we included SAE content on the homepage, users no longer commented that there are no attractive/interesting options to click on By far the most popular route into the lower level content was via the seasonal information or activities presented for each season

22 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the Site: Recommendations Suggest sights, activities and events content that might be of interest to our core target user groups user straight from the homepage Put sights, activities and events content into a context that is relevant to the Australian traveller eg by season/time of year to travel Include at least one passive and one active SAE so as to provide hooks for the broadest range of visitors Create inviting links to relevant Sights, Activities & Events content directly from the homepage

23 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the Site: Recommendations Users commented that they liked the use of this seasonal imagery after the map it was the next thing to catch their attention Increase usage of engaging contextual imagery on the homepage

24 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the Site: Recommendations Increase usage of engaging contextual imagery on the homepage

25 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Exploring the Site: Recommendations Improve visibility of “directional” navigation clues Increase prominence of global navigation (discussed in more detail later Give the user more guidance as to where to click next to find out more information about holidaying in BC: Provide prominent links to high level “find out about BC” content

26 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding specific information & completing goals…

27 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Findings Poor visibility of key navigation tools In early rounds, users often didn’t notice the global navigation bar. Users found it considerable more difficult to complete the tasks set when the global navigation was not noticed Users commented that the side navigation bar did not stand out enough from the rest of the page – inexperienced users often missed it altogether

28 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Findings Some changes required to Content labelling, terminology and categorisation Australian users sorted the Sights, Activity and Events content into different category groups then North American website Some terminology used was confusing eg Aboriginal and viewpoint because conflicted with Australian interpretations of the words New categories for Tour based travellers were discussed as valuable additions such as “Organised Sightseeing Tours” Changing the labels of some links made the link more attractive to click on eg changing “Regions & Cities” to “Places to Visit” made a user more likely to click on this to explore what BC has to offer – as noticed in difference of people using this page in round 1 vs. round 2 & 3

29 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Specific Information: Findings Related linking needs to be improved Users sometimes were frustrated by lack of direction on where to go next to find more specific information. Users often did not notice the “related links” panel in the right hand side column Users did not always take the most direct route when completing a specific information retrieval task – some users would click through several other pages before finding the information they were seeking. eg would click on Key Travel Information when looking for Getting There & Away type information. The current site does not currently to support this kind of usage by linking related pages

30 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Findings The transportation section naturally tended to be split by users into Getting To BC (from Australia) and Getting Around BC once your there The tour based travellers commented on the lack of information on organised tours and all inclusive package deals Market research showed that our target audiences are specifically interested in directions on how to get to and from airports and between ski resorts. This information proved difficult to track down on the current site. Once in the transportation section, users wanted to know where they could to book the flights or car hire and who could give them the best deals Users did not like having to wait for a PDF map to download Transportation & maps section structure & content needs review

31 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Significantly improve visibility of navigation tools The global navigation bar has been repositioned below the image banner. The font size and colour contrast have been increased to improve the visibility of this important navigation tool. The global navigation bar needs to be the most prominent element on the homepage as Findability of information on the site was dramatically improved by implementing these simple design changes Increase font size and change the colour contrast from the main body of the page. This helps to distinguish this important contextual navigation tool from the content

32 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Apply new SAE categories as defined by the card sort Apply the new SAE categories as defined by the card sort (shown here) Include new categories for tour based travellers: Unique Journeys & Sightseeing. Include new content pages for tour based travellers: Organised Sightseeing Tours, Bus Tours, Railway Journeys and Cruises Address differences in terminology eg Aboriginal > Indigenous, Viewpoint > Lookout, Circular Routes > Self Drive Road Trips

33 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Apply new global navigation labelling Regions & Cities > Places to Visit Transportation & Maps > Getting to BC & Around BC removed from the beginning of all navigation options – considered superfluous and occasionally confusing as not all users understood BC as meaning British Columbia Add new navigation options: Australian Travel Agents and Contact Us

34 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Cross link to related information WITHIN the site Three different strategies for cross linking related information from within the site All display related links within the main body of content. Displaying related links in the right hand column was not obvious enough to the majority of users Links can be made within the actual textual content eg if a paragraph is talking about needing a visa then “visa” can link through to the “Key travel information” page

35 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Cross link to related information WITHIN the site Three different strategies for cross linking related information from within the site All display related links within the main body of content. Displaying related links in the right hand column was not obvious enough to the majority of users Links can be made within the actual textual content eg if a paragraph is talking about needing a visa then “visa” can link through to the “Key travel information” page

36 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Cross link to related information WITHIN the site Three different strategies for cross linking related information from within the site All display related links within the main body of content. Displaying related links in the right hand column was not obvious enough to the majority of users Links can be made within the actual textual content eg if a paragraph is talking about needing a visa then “visa” can link through to the “Key travel information” page

37 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Cross link to related information EXTERNAL to site Display related links within the main body of content. Displaying related links in the right hand column was not obvious enough to the majority of users.

38 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Cross link to related information EXTERNAL to site Links can be made within the text content eg if a paragraph is talking about good ski facilities for Children in Whistler, then a link can be made direct from the text to the Kids Program page on the Whistler site

39 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding Information: Recommendations Rename transportation and maps to Getting to BC & Around Split the content into two different sections: “Getting To BC” & “Getting Around BC” Add new content areas specifically addressing the need for information on Airport transfers, Ski Resort Transfers and Travel Passes Rename & split Transportation & Maps into two sections

40 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness of BC….

41 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness of BC: Findings Most Australians have a limited knowledge of the geography of Canada and very limited awareness of BC in relation to the rest of Canada Users had heard of the big name tourist destinations of Vancouver and Whistler but had never heard of many of the other destinations in BC Users were generally much more likely to click on names they had heard of then destinations that were new to them Australian travellers knew very little about the geography or destinations of British Columbia or Canada “These place names mean nothing to me – I don’t even know where to start looking’”

42 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness of BC: Findings All users were drawn to the map on the homepage but many commented on clarity & usefulness Usually the first thing users do when researching an unknown destination is to find a map. This is to familiarise themselves with the main destinations and distances between them so they can begin researching and planning which places they would like to visit Users where immediately drawn to the map on the homepage but didn’t always understand it. The biggest problem seemed to be that users didn’t understand that the map is only showing BC rather than all of Canada. The shape of BC is not one that is immediately familiar to Australians.

43 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness of BC: Findings All users were drawn to the map on the homepage but many commented on its clarity and usefulness

44 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness of BC: Findings Users appreciated and requested maps at key points in the information gathering process especially in the early stages The maps on the North American were not always considered that useful – users did not like having to wait for a PDF to download. They responded better to the idea of an interactive map integrated into the content page as shown in the prototype BC and city highlights interactive maps were received very positively with the users interviewed “It’s really valuable to get a perspective of where things are in relation to each other – I need to be able see what is possible in the time I have’”

45 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness: Recommendations Users require a map that shows the whole of Canada and its surrounding regions eg Alaska and mainland USA. The map needs to clearly label and link to well known adjoining provinces and destinations such as Alberta & Banff. BC should still remain the main focus of the map but it needs to be placed within the context of the whole of Canada so users with a limited knowledge of the region can put BC into context with what they do already know The homepage map should include the whole of Canada

46 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness: Recommendations Users rollover a star (or some other design element) to view a headline of a BC or city highlight. Create interactive maps for BC, Regional and City highlights pages

47 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Gaining spatial awareness : Recommendations

48 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Absorbing the information…

49 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Absorbing the Information: Findings Often noticed users squinting at the screen or positioning themselves closer in order to read the website Users were reluctant to read large chunks of text. They tended to scan over much of it and sometimes miss information they were looking for Users responded much better to imagery or graphical visual clues Text is too small and difficult to read

50 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Absorbing the Information: Recommendations Increase font size to minimum of 11point throughout the site Make the existing text more scannable: highlight keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and colour are others) meaningful sub-headings (not "clever" ones) bulleted lists one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph) The inverted pyramid style of writing, starting with the conclusion reduce the word count (half or less than conventional writing) Increase font size & make text more scannable

51 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Absorbing the Information: Recommendations Use graphical clues to support textual content, for example, icons to highlight the different ski and resort facilities at the ski resorts – like in the holiday brochures Increase the use of contextually relevant imagery as clues to the information contained on the page Increase usage of visual and graphical clues to the information contained on the page

52 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Absorbing the Information: Recommendations Increase usage of visual and graphical clues to the information contained on the page

53 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Deciding if BC is the right holiday destination…

54 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding out if BC is the right holiday destination: Findings Seasonal considerations ranked highest for Australians when deciding which travel destination to go to Due to the large distances and cost involved in overseas visits Australian travellers tended to plan multi-destination trips i.e. would generally not just go to one part of BC or Canada Many held preconceived notions that Canada was exclusively a winter destination for ski orientated travellers Very little previous knowledge of geography, places of interest or distance between destinations, sights & activities Australian travellers value having access to the latest health and safety information

55 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Finding out if BC is the right holiday destination: Recommendations Provide seasonal overviews and suggestions for the best things to do at certain times of year Provide information on places to visit outside of BC Itinerary suggestions or tour orientated content for to inspire Australian travellers on what to do and see in BC Provide maps with the best things to do and see highlighted for BC and each of the regions/major cities Localise the key travel information to the Australian audience – provide easy access to this info from the homepage

56 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Completing the booking process…

57 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Completing the booking process: Findings Overall, users were surprisingly positive about purchasing travel online – especially with regards to package deals for ski and tour based holidays. Generally only the older or less experienced internet users expressed concerns with using their credit cards online However, a significant percentage of users still use their local travel agent to make the final booking even if they have done all the research online. Sometimes out of habit, sometimes the convenience of having someone else work out all the finer details, sometimes so they have the confidence their holiday will be trouble free. Hotels and flights were the most common travel products that users purchased via the internet Trust was a big factor when booking online – users will ask “does the site look and feel reputable?” All users that feel comfortable booking online said they would trust the Tourism BC site

58 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Completing the booking process: Recommendations Completing the booking process: Findings Searching for Accommodation Accommodation functionality was generally considered very useful and easy to use – nearly all users questioned said they would feel comfortable booking via the site Cost in Canadian dollars was not considered to be an issue – users expected cost to be displayed in that way. Travellers on a budget commented that they would like to be able to search accommodation by price Users felt that this destination list was too long and occasionally confusing – especially because the first visible destinations are unfamiliar to all our users.

59 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Completing the booking process: Recommendations Provide contextually relevant links to external websites where users can book travel online The last step in the planning process is to book the flight – a significant percentage of people are comfortable or prefer to do this online – therefore it is important to provide direction and options for these users to compete their booking process

60 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Completing the booking process: Recommendations Provide functionality for users to find a specialist BC travel agent in their region Allow users to refine their travel agent search by state or postcode

61 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Completing the booking process: Recommendations Display most popular destinations first in the drop down To make the destination list easier to navigate, list the most popular destinations (eg regional capitals cities and key tourism destinations) at the beginning of the drop down list.

62 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Completing the booking process: Recommendations Create option to filter hotels by price Some users, especially independent travellers, commented that an option to search specifically for hotels within their budget range.

63 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Final Impressions...

64 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Final Impressions: Findings 100% of users trusted the information provided on the site Nearly all users said they would use the site again if researching a holiday to British Columbia Satisfaction with the website increased, i.e. users had less suggestions for how the site could be improved, as each set of recommendations was applied the prototype

65 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Next steps to further improvements… Non-accommodation special offers on certain sights, activities and events displayed on contextually relevant SAE pages “All inclusive” package special offers or flight deals

66 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December For more detailed analysis see:

67 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December Questions..

68 Tourism BC – Australian Website Usability Testing – December


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