Create your pizza online: A usability study

Project metadata
Project title Creating your pizza online
Project summary Final report for usability study
Context Usability 1, Kent State University
Project dates/time frame October 2016, 2 weeks
My major responsibilities design and moderate an in-person usability study,
Platform Web
Tools used Screencast-o-matic
Team members/collaborators team of 1

Executive summary

Purpose. The 2015 redesign of the papajohns.com site made a lot of major improvements. It also created new issues. This study evaluated those improvements with attention to users’ success or problems reaching their most important goals.

Research overview. We conducted usability tests combined with interviews to gather both general expectations and feedback as well as pinpoint specific problems.

User expectations. Users expect a pizza ordering site to be convenient, fast, and easy to use. This makes improving usability a major competitive strategy for the business.

Key Tasks and Findings

usability test: choosing half and half topping

“I like the fact that I can put the olives on either the left of right side.” 😀

Introduction

Ease of online ordering is the competitive edge in the pizza marketplace. User experience is key to that. The 2015 redesign of the Papa John’s site created many needed design improvements and it looks beautiful and modern. Yet, the redesign created a few new issues. This usability study evaluates this new site from the point of view of primary user goals, to see what’s working well, and what needs improvement.

Research Methods

As Jakob Nielsen (2000) showed, testing with five users can reveal about 80% of the usability issues in a study. Any more than that wastes resources.

In keeping with this, we recruited 5 participants,

  • One who has never ordered pizza online as a baseline
  • Four familiar with online pizza ordering, but not from Papa John’s site.

Next we conducted a contextual inquiry, observing a user order several pizzas of her choice for a hypothetical gathering of four guests. We followed this up with a series of walk-through usability tests. That is: we recorded users as they attempted to complete a predetermined set of tasks, while they spoke their thoughts aloud.

This way, everyone tested was new to the site, and we wished to evaluate another Nielsen dictum,  “recognition rather than recall.” This design principle was defined by Nielsen (1995) as: “minimizing the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible and self-evident.”

Besides convenience, participants mentioned they wanted a site that was fast, simple, and easy to use. One of the goals of this study is to understand what users mean by “simple and easy to use.”

Summary of findings

User expectations. Participants were unanimous on the main reason for ordering online: convenience. Whatever this means, it has to be more convenient than using the phone to order.

Most also mentioned they wanted a site that was fast, simple, and easy to use. One of the goals of this study is to understand what users mean by “simple and easy to use.”

Participants liked the advantage of being able to see the entire menu, taking their time to browse options and make a decision. This allowed them to compare prices and see ingredients, which is harder to do by phone. One person said she often didn’t feel like explaining an order to a store employee at the end of a busy day. Another mentioned just being lazy, which just underscores the importance of an uncomplicated experience with minimum thought required. After all, pizza is for relaxing with friends when you don’t feel like cooking.

One person said she often didn’t feel like explaining an order to a store employee at the end of a busy day. Another mentioned just being lazy…after all, pizza is for relaxing with friends when you don’t feel like cooking.

Success rate. Everyone was able to order a pizza, except one participant who became flustered and gave up on the half-and-half toppings pizza. Overall, people liked the layout of the site; the large page elements are easy to see.

Images. The photography is especially good and they loved the animated toppings. More than just visual entertainment, the animations serve a useful function of giving visual feedback for where you are in the process and what your pizza looks like.

  • After they understood the half/whole pizza icons under toppings, everyone liked that and were able to use them effectively.But all took some time to study this function.
  • Even those who did not find the “Create Your Own Pizza” link found a reasonable work-around to their desired toppings.
  • The contact and email tasks went relatively well.

Trouble spots

The primary trouble spots were in ordering:

  • finding the “Create your own” button to customize a pizza from scratch,
  • understanding the icons indicating a topping is on half of the pizza.
  • Understanding how to remove a topping if the user changed their mind or made a mistake.

Two people accidentally added multiple toppings and tried to edit them out in the shopping cart. They didn’t see how to do that on the toppings page until they went there the second time.

  • There was some difficulty in searching through the many pizzas in the main menu, creating at least mild information overload. Surprisingly, the person in the pilot study used the browser’s search function to find a pizza on the menu page!
  • Adding to the distractions, the “Open a Franchise” button is one of the most prominent items, but least important to users. Move it to the footer.

Surprisingly, the person in the pilot study used the browser’s search function to find a pizza on the menu page, confusing the site search with a web search.

Download the whole report (pdf)

 

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