Manuel Soria
8 min readDec 19, 2020



Mantra: “I’m not the user of the product I’m creating and evaluating”

Hello again, friends! We are back with another Challenge by Ironhack, and this one’s a treat in Covid times, since we are going tobe travelling the world! You better start packing and get set, because in this post we will cover usability evaluation with real users of a well known travelling app and outline a redesign of its mobile app version.


our bag looks pretty heavy

In this Challenge we are going to jump into the shoes of a world traveler. Concretely, our User Type will be a Backpacker aged between 18 to 38 years old that has finally decided to go visit that wonder that has been sitting in dreams for a long time now: the Taj Mahal! We don’t have a long time to plan, but we are very chilled about it. We will be travelling in 6 months and are open to almost any possibility. We have a budget constraint, so we are going to try and keep it as cheap as possible and be price-cautious. We prefer experiences where we have a chance to meet cool people and make friends to enjoy this magnificent palace together. We are not picky and we can accommodate the most affordable, adventurous, genuine experience.


Let’s do some research for our wonderful (did you see what I did there?) trip to India. Like we said, we don’t really have much time to plan, so we are going to cover the most important bits to ensure we make the most of it. We are very relaxed about it, but we like being efficient when travelling.

After some browsing about monsoons, temperatures and peak tourist rates, we have come to the conclusion that the best season to travel to the north of India is March. The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, a northern city in Uttar Pradesh, part of India’s Golden Triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur). Our plan is to cover the most touristy attractions in this Golden Triangle and to balance them with some off-the-road hidden locations. We will spend a total of 3 weeks, however in this Challenge we will only focus on the first part of the Trip that covers Delhi and Agra. Health comes first, and we’ve quickly checked Passporthealth’s Travel Vaccines and Advice for India. Hepatitis A and B and Typhoid vaccines shot in the last 2 years are required, but we are good, because last year we travelled to the Philippines, and we got those doses. In preparation for our trip, we have already applied for our 60 day e-Visa

We will be flying to Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), 16km away from the centre of Delhi. When we get there we will be exchanging some Euros € to Indian Rupees ₹ (1 = 0.01€). We will spend three nights in Delhi, and jet off to Agra on the third day. Other than the Taj Mahal and the Fort, there isn’t much to see in Agra, so we will only spend one day, to take some amazing shots and videos of the Palace and catch the stunning sunset from the river nearby.


Next, we will compare three of the main travel sources in their mobile app versions, to see which one fits best our user type and scenario: Skyscanner, Kayak and Tripadvisor. To do so, we will conduct a Usability Heuristics evaluation for interaction design according to Jakob Nielsen’s principles.

I have prepared a table to visualize my conclusions of the evaluation of the chosen apps:

After the evaluation, I decided to pick Skyscanner.

In terms of interaction design, I thought it was the most structured and organized, aesthetically pleasing and intuitive app. Moreover, I thought the value proposition Skyscanner offered to my User Typer was higher than the one offered by Tripadvisor. I was certain that most users would use Tripadvisor to research restaurants and other attractions, and Skyscanner to book flights and accommodation. I thought these latter concepts were more of a priority to my User Type when organizing a trip abroad, especially considering we have little time to plan.

As a side note, I was curious of what other people thought about it, so I threw an Instagram Poll amongst my users to reassure my position. Most Skyscanner users weren’t aware of the fact that they could actually book flights and hotels through Tripadvisor. They feel Tripadvisor has consolidated as one of the best attraction, review and forum travel apps, but Skyscanner is more reliable and pleasing to use to plan a trip, since it focuses on the most substantial part of the experience.



Once we selected the fittest app for our study, I picked 3 backpackers (experienced and amateur) from my contact list, and I promised cookies in exchange for their collaboration. They all kindly accepted the offer. The 5 second screen test consisted in a quick glance at the home screen of the mobile version of Skyscanner. Surprisingly, none of them identified which particular they were dealing with. They noticed they were using a travel app and it allowed them to book flights, hotels and rent cars. They appreciated a minimalist aesthetic, and the information was portrayed in an appealing and organized way. After the test, I learnt all of the users were familiar with the desktop version of Skyscanner, and had never used the mobile app version for their previous bookings.


Afterwards, the 3 subjects were provided with few tasks and steps to perform in the app. They went as follows:

  1. Book a return flight from Barcelona El Prat airport to Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. Choose the cheapest option for next March, considering you will be returning in exactly 21 days after your arrival (3 weeks). You are completely fine with airport layovers, so disregard that when selecting your flights. Just focus on the price and viability.
  2. Create a new trip itinerary in the “Trips” section.
  3. Add a Hotel or Hostel booking reservation to your already saved itinerary for the first 3 nights in Delhi (in the My Trips section). We are under a budget, and not really picky when choosing accommodation. Try to filter the cheapest options, and use the map to get a central location in the city.


  • The aesthetic and minimalist design is very pleasing for the user. However, there is a certain lack of sense of individuality and identity since the company’s logo is only contained in a small icon in the tab bar. The 5 second screen test highlighted this issue, when the users were unaware of which specific app they were using.
  • The users had to “overclick” through the app to perform the tasks they were given. This was mainly due to duplicities and redundancies that could be gathered in one single screen. Some digital conventions were hard to follow, like bookmarking flights and hotels.
  • The home page wasn’t really defined as such. The app uses two terminologies that lead to confusion: explore and search. This is particularly important, since it affects its main functions.
  • Unlike the desktop version, when selecting the departure and return dates, the user is in the blind, and has no way to identify which dates are cheaper. The app only allows you to sort flights by price, once the dates have been selected. Unless the user has in mind some specific dates, this should be improved to avoid jumping from one page to another. Flight prices are a fundamental factor for the user, and should be portrayed ex ante, to facilitate the decision making process.
  • The users aren’t sure how to change the number of passengers and cabin class as pre filters in the search bar. They spend too much time setting the filters of their search, maybe because it’s not very intuitive.
  • The users miss the tab bar, to exit the current screen and head to different sections.
  • Bookmarking is poorly defined in the app. The users were confused about the connection between “Trips” and saving a flight as favourite.
  • The users appreciate the “Trips” function. However, they find it hard to distinguish between Creating a new itinerary from scratch and adding new reservations to an existing itinerary.
  • The information contained in the Flight details is overwhelming and unorganized.
  • Adding a new Hotel reservation to an existing itinerary was relatively easy and quick for our users. However, they feel like there was too much information, and some of it gets to much attention.


Here’s the link to the Figma Prototype. Please bare in mind that the selected dates when booking a flight are the 8th March — 28th March, and that the protoype includes the user flows illustrated in the upper screenshots of each Skyscanner screen:

<iframe style=”border: 1px solid rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.1);” width=”800" height=”450" src=”" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Feel free to play with it. Get some practice, won’t be late until we can plan trips again!

To conclude…

Now, THAT was a challenge! I’ve really enjoyed every stage of the process. I can already feel the evolution from the first challenge to this last one. Usability tests are incredibly helpful to determine certain app’s pain points, since we are using real world data, with real users in a perfectly built scenario. At the same time, those pain points are going to be the basis of our redesign project. According to our mantra, it is vital for us to leave behind our preferences and focus on our users perspective, and that’s precisely what we are achieving by resourcing to this techniques.

I can not wait to see what the future holds for me in this field. I am very excited about this adventure. Once again, thank you all for the claps and nice comments! It’s been a true pleasure reading your posts. You are all amazing and creative.

I’ll catch you on the flip side,