Dec 29th, 2006
As I always say, the 80-20 rule is what you should focus on. It applies perfectly to usability.
I’m actually planning a trip to Spain (lucky me!). Since I’m trying to get the better price for my plane ticket, I’m going thru a lot (and a lot!) of airfare websites. Some of them are well done but some others made me so frustrated! When tourists are looking for tickets, a car to rent, an hotel to book, they most of the time make a lot of searches on each websites. You can imagine how frustrating and discouraging it is to be slowed down by usability problems. You want tourists to buy tickets from you, then be sure that it is easy for them to do so. Happy experiences will also make them come back next time!
Here is a list of usability problems that you should fix quickly in case of an airfare search form:
- Customer should not always have to fill the form and he wants to change a date or a destination.
- The most used item (for example : a dropdown list of years for a leaving date) should be selected as default. We are December 28th 2006. Why is “2006″ the default date in the dropdown? Sure we are in 2006 but 99% of people are searching for 2007!
- Calendars are cool but please give alternatives. Calendars are good for some of the customers but for others it is simpler to write down the date directly.
- In the French version of your website you should use the french names of the countries/cities in your lists.
- If someone is accidently searching for past dates do not launch the search process for nothing. Tell him right away that the entered dates are not valid.
In conclusion, I would suggest you to use your own forms from a customer perspective, you’ll see that it is not always easy to use. ; )