How Booking.com UX made me feel.

Image belongs to Eugenia Loli

Lately, I’ve come across Booking.com website to look for an accommodation and in the first 10–20 seconds I was feeling bombarded with tons of options, menus, “subscribe here”, places travelers love and more. It was pretty confusing, but luckily I found an icon which clearly showed that it’s there to help me (support, F.A.Q, live chat) but when I clicked there, BOOM; not even close, there was another call to do something else, more exactly to search by travel interests.

What is Booking.com?

Judging by their tagline “Go anywhere…Over 800 thousand properties and 20 million rooms at your fingertips” this is a service that helps you to choose a suitable place to stay. That’s all.

Why do I have to see “Vienna was highly rated for museums by 1,206 guests from Romania! if this is not what I want and not why I entered on the website in the first place.

Even if they are trying to educate people in terms of what places to visit, to be more like a travel guide, it’s still not ok for me as a user to see this:

Why not to simplify the user goal, which is to find a suitable place to stay and get rid of the unsolicited information?

You don’t have to be an UX expert, or content strategist, or a psychologist to figure out that when you want to book a hotel room you don’t want to see straightaway that x number of people from your country rated Vienna for it’s museums. I understand that this is helpful for people who do not know where to go and they may need a suggestion but, in my opinion, as a user, this is more confusing for me because it moves my attention to other things.

I see that they are shifting the direction to the people who are not sure where to go, besides the place to stay, because probably there is a high demand for that.

It’s clear that this it’s a data-driven design decision or a marketing strategy to let people know that their service is more than just finding a hotel room.

Let’s assume that they want to keep both.

I’m not focusing too much on the aesthetics, I’m just trying to prove a point:

Ok, so what I did here?

Let’s assume that they want the people which already know where they want to and those who do not know, so instead of adding some random places based on what people from my country had chosen I’ve tried to introduce people to the possibility to choose based on their interest.

Basically, the main goal of this website and the main reason the users use it it’s presented straightway, nothing more and nothing less.

If the user doesn’t want any of these she can scroll down for more, and scrolling it’s what all people do, it’s not an usability issue or a risky design decision.

Let’s move forward!

After the user saw what is Booking.com all about she can move further (scroll down). Now, seeing the recommendations section seems more natural:

I want to see the essentials first, what city, what country how many properties and for what is highly rated.

Small note: Ratings by all the people, not just from the people in my country could be more inviting as long as this section is just for helping people to make a decision. But of course this is just my assumption, so I will stop here.

Now, if the user hover over a city she should see more info about that specific place:

I think this can be useful for me as an user because once I am hovering the thumbnail I’m asked if I want to look for a place to stay or if I’m not sure to give me some more details. In theory this seems to be good, but as long as this is not tested on real people it remains just an idea, maybe a good one.

Final thoughts

The suggestions I’ve made here are based on how I feel as a user and what do I want to see in order to have a more easy to use and beautiful experience. Of course, it might be a total bullshit, but at least I’m doing something in order to prove a point.

For me, design is communication. This means that design can not be perfect, regardless the number of people who are working on it, or the budgets, design will always be imperfect.

Thank you for reading!

Follow me on Twitter: @agispas

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