Known for drawing thousands of people, young and old to spend a year gallivanting across the globe, gapyear.com has earned a reputation for providing their customers the opportunity to make life-long memories; fulfilling the dreams of even the most ambitious explorers. gapyear.com owes a lot of its success to its community of travel enthusiasts and backpackers. As such, gapyear.com and Cyber-Duck have put the user at the forefront of this redesign.
Using the opportunity to engage with the travel community, the user testing was conducted with a group of travel enthusiasts who were new to website as well as gapyear.com “champions”; users who are leading active members of the community. By engaging with a cross-section of users, the user-centred design can factor in both the needs of new visitors and existing members.
Cyber-Duck utilised their state-of-the-art Tobii T60 eye tracking technology to conduct the user testing along with retrospective think-aloud interviews. The benefit of tracking where users are looking is that to a certain degree we can understand the user’s subconscious behaviour when using the website. This can as simple as seeing if a particular part of the site is difficult to find or even just poorly worded. We gave the participants instructions to complete common tasks to put the website through its paces. Each task was carefully designed to help us to understand the usability of specific parts of the website.
Matt Gibson, Cyber-Duck Production Director and Project Manager was pleased with the progress made on the day stating, "Our user centred design approach means that rather than assuming what users want or need from the website, we actively seek to get them involved in the design process. From this we can ensure we are making the right design decisions with the user in mind. Meeting existing members of the website was extremely valuable; you can quickly see how passionate they are about really pushing gapyear.com forward as the leading community for gap year travellers. Cyber-Duck will continue to work closely with gapyear.com and their users throughout the redesign process to deliver a design that is tailored to achieving this. Watch this space!"
Cormac Scanlan, gapyear.com’s Development Team Leader was also pleased with the outcome of the day, "Some of what we witnessed validated the need to sort out issues we already knew about, but the process also highlighted a number of areas which could be improved upon with a redesign. Both new and existing users highlighted the need for user generated content to be much more visible on the site and this is something we want to address as a priority.
"It was also great to sit down for a beer with some real site legends and scope out our future plans. The experience of our core user base is central to everything we do and we'll be regularly engaging them throughout the process to ensure we deliver the experience our members want to see."
As part of the same research, gapyear.com are offering anyone a chance to win a £500 travel voucher towards a round the world flight, by filling in a simple survey.