For the core experience check out my prototype walkthrough here!
Our team was tasked with providing detailed user research and analysis of the existing site and design recommendations to improve conversion and functionality. We needed to learn more about Tanslers site, auction model, and understand its potential users.
Tansler "Priceline meets AirBNB"
Tansler is an Online Vacation Rental Marketplace that uses a reverse auction process, allowing users to bid on multiple properties and name their own price. The first host to accept the bid ends the auction, granting the renter that property for their desired stay.
Jumping right into it, we started using the site to see how it worked. We took screen grabs of everything that was confusing or didnt function properly and began to audit the site. We found ourselves overwhelmed by the amount of maintenance issues with the UI, so we started forming questions to ask users.
We needed to find out how people were currently using online travel agencies and what their needs were when using these sites. We looked at 27 different responses to our 12 question survey to understand behaviors and attitudes in the online booking process. These are a few of our biggest takeaways from those surveys.
We created a flow based on how users navigate the site and start an auction, this was the task model for testing.
We then tested this flow to analyze any issues with the UI and what questions we could ask users to better understand the site.
"I want it to be trustworthy, how do I know it's safe?"
5 Interviews were conducted to understand initial thoughts of the Tansler site. We assessed how people reacted in real time as they navigated from the home to the auction page finding multiple functionality issues, overwhelming layout, and confusion of the auction process.
“I like the deals, because the savings are so high.”
Completed video testing with 4 users who navigated the site through our primary flow. we made observations of their behavior and mouse clicks, and had them talk through each task informing us what they were thinking or feeling.
To understand the market and competition, Online Travel Agencies(OTAs) have two models:
Merchant - Marking up the discounted inventory of hotels.
Agency - Taking commission per successful conversion.
I began to investigate the history of AirBNB and Priceline, how they operate, and how they make money as it relates to Tansler.
- Agency model (commission based)
- Part of the vast Share Economy
- Largest market of non-brand rooms and properties
- Host and Renter transparency
- Focuses on best experience for customer
- Users can personalize profile and share favorite places
- “Name your own Price.” marking up opaque travel inventory (merchant model)
- Top competitor in OTA marketplace
- Offers deals on different travel rentals (flights, cars, hotels, etc.)
- Expectation of accommodation (star rating) standards
- Largest international travel marketplace
- Convenience one stop shop for vacation accommodations
SYNTHESIS AND FINDINGS
Some of the strongest data we got came from what users were saying. I recorded detailed notes and an abundance of actual quotes from short answer questions in the surveys, user testing videos, and one-on-one interviews. Sorting these into groups gave us direction on our design approach and where to focus our optimization.
Auction Model Issue
The current model did not afford for both users needs(host/renter). The reluctance to bid on multiple properties is due to renters needs not being met.
- "What if I want one place more than others, can I still get that place?"
- "If I didnt get my favorite, Id be disappointed."
- "Seems not fair, if no one accepts then its a waste of time."
The model of "Their place. Your price." is untrue if there is no guarantee that the users price needs will be met. Users rarely felt the same way about multiple properties, most search for the "best" listing and vet a single option. Users can start an auction on a single property but have to wait up to 24 hours to see if they're rejected. Without getting off track, we kept this insight as something to consider when designing a solution.
After a week one we presented our research and planned approach to Tansler. Keeping them updated, we showed how users responded to the website, their expectations, needs, and pain points. We listed areas of opportunity where we wanted to focus our optimization. Tansler gave us approval and were optimistic about our approach based on our findings. Since Tansler is still a new contender in the OTA market we wanted to focus on new users and as per our clients request, focus more on the renters side than the host.
- Search Results Page
- Property Detail Page
- Auction Cart Page
Features and Application
- Map: Property Location and Proximity
- Filter Optimization and Sorting Options
- Clear Labeling for Product Detail
- Reviews, Detailed Host Info, Comparison
SKETCHES AND DESIGN ITERATIONS
Initial sketches consisted of trying to simplify the interface by cleaning up the layout and making it less bulky.
- Added gutters to the content.
- prioritized info and call outs.
- Moved the filter to a drop down.
- Added a book now option (like ebay)
- Results in list view instead of grid.
Testing and Feedback
- It was still unclear how it worked.
- Filter in bad location.
- Still overwhelming layout.
- Needs hierarchy of information.
We realized we didnt change much about was wrong with the actual design. Implementing the changes to reflect our test results, I redesigned the layout.
WIREFRAMES AND ANNOTATIONS
- Wanted to continue our research on optimizing the auction model and do more user testing. Our solutions need to be isolated during testing for objectivity.
- We had mild research on the hosting side and even uploaded a test property to see how the listing process worked. It proved to be an area with a lot of opportunity and seeing as the renter/host relationship is of mutual benefit, its an area that needs attention.