Usability Test: Comparing Hybrid Models on Honda.com

image of guy putting his fist through a computer monitor while his head explodes

School is going great! This month we’re studying “Web Design and Usability.” Below is the assignment we did this past week. The goal was for us to go to the Honda website and create one task that a typical user would try to accomplish. Then we were supposed to go ahead and document the steps that a user would go through in order to accomplish the task.

Usability testing involves not only testing for one task, but testing for many tasks, and testing during all phases of the design/development process. For usability testing to be useful, it must also take into consideration different user personas who represent a wide scope of users that will visit a site. There are some consumers for which choosing a hybrid car model is optional, but others who will only buy a hydbrid and therefore will automatically ignore gasoline-only vehicles. The persona of the buyer for this usability test is the buyer who is only interested in buying a hybrid car.

The Usability Test

Task: Compare selection of Hybrid 2015 Honda models to see which will meet the needs of my family of 4.

Step 1 – I am not interested in anything but Hybrid cars. Where do I find the “compare function”?

This is pretty easy to find. The site clearly names one of their menu choices “Shopping Tools.” This is the most likely place to find what I’m looking for. I go there first. 

Note that the second column below the pictures of the vehicles has a “Hybrid and Alternative Fuel Vehicles” link. I didn’t notice this until after I had gotten through my taks (steps 1-6). It is good to know that, had the “Shopping Tools” menu not been of help, I could have used that link to start my search. Because not all of us use the internet in the same way, great usability dictates we make sure relevant information be available via many methods.


Step 1 Image – Honda home page

Step 2 – Find and click on “Compare Vehicles” submenu.

This loads a new page which has clearly-formatted “Filters Menu,” positioned on the left hand side, which is where I expect to find filter choices.

Step 3 – Choose “Hybrid” from “Vehicle Type” filter and “5” from the “Passenger Seating” filter.

This gives me two results, the 2015 Accord Hybrid and the 2015 Civic Hybrid. This is great. But now, I am confused. Shouldn’t each picture have a check box I can click and then a “Compare Button” like other sites? I want to compare these cars to one another. What do I do now?!?


Step 3 Image – Filters applied and results displayed

Step 4 – Click on one of the cars to see what happens. Perhaps this can help get me to where I want to go.

This gives me a pop up window with three choices:
a. Honda vs Competition
b. Trim vs Trim
c. Honda vs. Honda.

Ok, so, I am not interested in comparing this car to the competition, so option (a) is not going to work. Option (b) would work if I already knew the model I want to buy, but I am not there yet so this option won’t work. Option (c) looks like my best bet. 


Step 4 Image – My next comparison choices.

Step 5 – Click on step (c).

Ok, I’m getting closer. Now see a comparison grid but only one of the models they showed me is on the list. It looks like I can add other Hondas for comparison. I don’t remember what the other model was – it’s been a super long day. Luckily, there are only two hybrids to choose from so I can pull the name of the other model from the pull-down menu. 


Step 5 Image – Comparison grid with only one vehicle

Step 6 – Choose the other car to compare from the pull-down menu.

Finally, I am where I need to be! Here is a comparison of the only two hybrid Honda models that seat at least 4 people.


Step 6 Image – Comparison grid with both hybrid vehicles

Conclusion

For this particular task, Steps 4 and 5 could have been eliminated by allowing the customer to compare models right after I added the relevant filters. The confusion expressed on Step 3 (the “what do I do now?!” stage) is a clear indication of needed improvement.

In addition, it would be easier for the customer to also load the comparison choices (a-c listed above) after the filtered results loaded, right below the pictures of the cars filtered. This step would make it easier for customers to know what to do next.

What do you think?