Hotwire.com Critique

-- by Bryan Rusk



Hotwire.com is similar to a lot of travel sites that allows you to view many things including hotels, flights, cruises and vacation packages. I first want to discuss the home page of the website because it is the most important and then discuss the interface of search results.


hotwire_home.png



Above is a picture of the home page which has pretty simplistic approach. There is a search bar for travel types on the right and on the left there is a large space which contains information about discounts that you can revieve on the site. I think this part of the website may be a unnecessaryily large for customers to view because it takes up a large majority of the browser instead of showing customers additional search options. Another thing it could contain is a larger list of popular travel destinations. There is a list like this right below the large advertisement, but I think this is doing the customer a disservice because it is not the first thing they will notice and this can waste precious seconds.



hotwire_tabs.png




The best feature of the home page is the consistency of all the different clickable tabs in the top bar and the webpages that they are associated with. Each tab takes you to a more specific search option, but uses the same interface of the hompage. This allows for frequent users to use the site more quickly as they can easier time memorizing how to start thier search because all the pages have a similar asthetic. Much in the same way, a new user can easily explore between the pages using this tab because once they have looked at the homepage they can learn the ins and outs of the other pages more fluidly.



hotwire_search.png




I also wanted to talk about the search results because this is where the interface takes a drastic leap from the home page. If I was to describe the style of the home page, it would be open and simplistic. In contrast, the search results page is congested with different options and I would classify most of them for use by the advanced user. The screenshot above shows the search results for hotels in New York City. The most glaring object on the screen after you search is the pricing and star rating of the hotels on the list. I think this is a positive tool for a user to use because this is how we measure which hotels we want. I also think these bright red boxes might distract the users from actually filerting there results to search for a hotel that might be better for them. In addition, the side bar that allows you to 'refine your search' had very small font and is loaded with information such that a novice or older user might not be able to read or understand. Instead the user might just sped hours paging through each search results (which is also kind of hard to find).


If I were to make an overall judgement to Hotwire.com it would be that the parts of thier website that are eye-catching might make up too much of the experience. It would be better to reduce the boldness of these parts and highlight some other areas for ease of use.