You are taking a sabbatical year backpacking through Asia. You want to find some place to work in exchange for food and accommodation. After doing a google search you find the site http://www.helpx.net and decides to give it a try. You will soon notice that the website offers a lot of information but the structure has a lot of room for improvement. The navigation is also not fully intuitive. What if there was an easier way to access the information without getting lost?
HelpX.net is a website for exchanging help between Hosts (providing accomondation and often also food) and Helpers (providing help with various tasks of the host) and for enabling the two groups to get in contact with eachother. The website has a lot of valuable information available for both parties, but it could be more easily accessible. In this evaluation, we will concentrate on usability of the Helper role in order to limit the project, even though the site is designed for both groups. Our main focus is to redesign the main page and the navigation required to find a suiting host in order to make the user journey towards a host as clear as possible for a helper. Since many of the Helpers are backpackers who want to get free food and accommodation (thus saving money) in exchange for helping other people out, they will be our target users.
Our usability evaluation consisted of interviews with two possible and one actual users of the site. All interviewees were presented to the same scenario:
“You are taking a sabbatical year backpacking through Asia. You want to find some place to work in exchange for food and accommodation. After doing a google search you find the site http://www.helpx.net and decides to give it a try.”
And asked the following questions:
What are the most important things for a backpacker to find on this site?
When viewing a host, what are the main things you want to know about them.
Find one host in China that has room for 2 helpers and is an organic farm. (observe them and take notes as they do so. Film with your phone if it is OK).
What difficulties did they find?
What difficulties did you observe?
After the interviews, we proceeded with compiling a list of problems with the site based on the answers:
Borders or buttons would be preferable to ordinary links according to one interviewee.
Non-clickable photos (pics cannot be seen in larger sizes) when users expected them to be clickable.
Entire presentation, design layout was not considered attractive.
The size of the website changes when you navigate, which was not considered consistent.
One interviewee considered the comment box in the middle of the home page to be misleading and not expressing what the site is actually about.
Location maps for Asia proved really hard to find, interviewees didn’t see them during navigation.
There is no map with all hosts in the world. Have to click different location maps.
There is no search option in home page. As such there is no way to jump directly to what a person is looking for.
Not able to filter host by what time of the year they are hosting or the number of helpers they accept. Other filtering (reviewed hosts only etc.) is available only to logged in users, which could at least be expressed to those not logged in.
Contact details regardings a host can be found if and only if the helper has registered, something that some interviewees disliked. However this is probably done in order to have an incentive to register as a premium host, otherwise no one would ever pay for the service. A similar service, wwoof (http://www.wwoofchina.org) shows even less host info to non paying users.
Need to login in order to see reviews. Same reasons as above. An option to consider would however be to show the average number of stars received by previous helpers.
Contacting admin regarding FAQ’s or any issue was not designed properly and hectic to click and type in new page. It should be visible on the top rather than in every page than in bottom.