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Transatlantic testing: how lowcosttravel crossed an ocean to improve Hoteling.com

Hoteling.com Homepage

About Ben Scammels and Hoteling

Ben Scammels is senior UX designer at lowcostholidays – which, along with Hoteling, is part of the lowcosttravelgroup. 
Hoteling is an eCommerce business that helps people easily find the hotel they want, at a price they like, on any device. It has more than 300,000 great-value hotels and is live in 30 countries across 5 continents. 
Ben Scammels

Ben Scammels, Senior UX Designer, lowcostholidays



Bugs revealed through UX testing


Conversion killers uncovered

Why was Hoteling testing its international website?

A raft of changes had just been made to the US version of the Hoteling website. Ben needed to make sure none of these would cause a catastrophic meltdown of the internet, so he decided to run UX tests using American testers. 
However, Ben couldn’t test the site in a usability lab as he would normally have done because:
  • He needed to run the tests and get results in a matter of days
  • This wouldn’t have left enough time to recruit American testers
  • Even if he could get American testers, the short timeframe would have wildly inflated the costs of testing and transportation

How did Hoteling use remote UX testing?

Ben had never tried remote UX testing before and was worried that the people on WhatUserDo’s panel of testers wouldn’t represent real Hoteling customers. 
He was willing to give remote UX testing a go because it was the only option that allowed him to test internationally, in such a short space of time. So, we got 5 US-based users to test the American, desktop version of the Hoteling website.
Ben’s concerns about testers were addressed with a screening question that allowed only users who had made an online hotel booking within the previous 12 months to participate.
Users were asked to find and book a hotel room for a holiday they would genuinely go on, speaking their thoughts and impressions of the experience as they did so.
This allowed Ben and his team to uncover several issues, including this one:
This user is confused at the appearance of code in the “destination” field

Which improvements were achieved?


• Over 40 previously-undiscovered bugs revealed
• A number of region-specific issues found that would not have been discovered had international testers not been used
• 5 critical issues that seriously compromised the usability of the site
• 1 issue discovered that only affected new users, that might not have been picked up on in lab testing

The Hoteling team had a look through the playlist of user videos over some beers on a Friday. The meeting included the product director, product owner and QA team.
Ben loved that he could tag and group related issues while watching videos on the WhatUsersDo platform. He could also share full or customised playlists, and export them to .csv to create JIRA tickets for the dev team.
Even though this was a speedy and relatively small-scale round of testing, Ben got more benefits than just technical ones:
  • Insights uncovered during testing helped the UX and dev teams align their goals and priorities
  • Videos of people using the site were shared with senior stakeholders across departments, raising the profile of usability testing within the company
  • Hoteling’s dev team enjoyed greater exposure to customers and the issues most important to them

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This user has difficulty finding their destination in the search results

What does Ben think about remote UX testing with WhatUsersDo?

It’s like WhatUsersDo anticipated every step a UX tester needs – from launching a test, to analysing and putting the results into action. They provided the right tools at each stage of the process.

 Tips for updating an international site

Start by running usability tests to discover what needs fixing, and in what order of importance.
Don’t run usability tests on a website for one country with users living in another country – even if the same language is spoken in both countries.
During testing, be aware of region-specific attitudes and local cultures that can affect online behaviour. Don’t focus only on on-site factors, such as content.
Don’t have content on an international website that’s useful only to people living in another country, or is in a foreign language. One example is a corporate video featuring people speaking the language of the country where you’re headquartered.
If your international website is in a foreign language, testers should speak their thoughts in that language. Their sentiments will be more accurately conveyed.

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