Critique on Travel Website

When I first loaded the website I noticed there were a bunch of links. However, my eyes were brought to the middle section because it seemed to have a familiar interface, based on my previous knowledge of other sites. The middle section was outlined, therefore bringing more focus to it. That section asked the user to select their category of interest: flight, hotels, or cars. I particularly liked that the creators also attempted to show the categories visually. When I picked a category, I was presented with the appropriate choice of selections, specific to that category. The home page supported tab navigation; however, because of the clutter, it took a long time. I also noticed that some actions were only available on mouseover.

When I finally picked the category I wanted, I was presented with some options. There was a textbox for Departure city and Arrival city, a dropdown for departure date, departure time, arrival date and arrival time. There were even drop down menus for the number of adults, number of seniors and the number of children. Without really reading, I immediately typed Maryland in the departure city and since it was a text box it was accepted my input, I selected my departure date. I noted that there was a date picker available for the user. This design choice offers user a simple error handling, so there is no possible way to pick the wrong date. I typed Seattle for the arrival city and selected the appropriate options for the rest of the other options.

As one would predict, I was immediately presented an error screen. There was a small text that I easily overlooked on the top saying that the departure city could not be found. The page that presented did not really offer me informative feedback; instead, I got a spit back of all the options that I entered in the previous screen. However, one of my errors was caught. I was presented a drop down menu to select the appropriate airport in Seattle. I made my corrections and was immediately redirected to the same page, but this time there was not really any intuition in finding my error. I looked above the whole page and noticed that there was a little line above that stating that departure city could not be found. I made the appropriate changes and continued.

I finally get the result screen and was presented different options. I noticed immediately that the creators did not strive for consistency. In the smallest font on the top of the page the creators attempt to give the user some instruction. They users are told to pick a departing flight. Users can sort by lowest price, shortest flight, travel time, etc. This gives the user internal locus of control and makes them feel like they are in charge of the system. I picked the appropriate options and was presented with a similar screen. I assumed that it was asking me to pick my return flight, so I chose again. I get a confirmation screen and I am presented with yet another style. This section is properly labeled so I assume that I am meant to enter my information.

My suggestions for this site would be to stick with one theme throughout. The use of color and fonts was erratic throughout the whole experience. I also suggest that they work on their error handling and change the format so that the user can’t input the wrong city or airport like I did.