System Design and Usability Evaluation of Hoot Housing: A Review Website for Off-Campus Student Housing
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Review websites play an integral role in many people's decision making process on a regular basis. Review websites target a range of users including people choosing which businesses to support, products to purchase, or services to subscribe to. This thesis addresses a particular target audience, University of Oregon (UO) students, in order to introduce positive changes to the current climate of the off-campus student housing experience. Through the design and development of a review website for student housing, Hoot Housing, this thesis ultimately seeks to raise the bar for property management and enrich students' lives by creating an online community of shared housing experiences. Designing and developing a new website gives rise to a myriad of usability issues that could potentially be constructive or destructive to its the future success. To determine the strengths and weaknesses of the design of Hoot Housing, UO students participated in usability testing where they performed tasks using the Hoot Housing website. The performance and preference data collected gave feedback on the effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction of the website. Overall the usability study found that students could effectively and efficiently use the Hoot Housing website. Student participants expressed satisfaction with their experience, but communicated concerns with the usefulness of the site. These concerns originated from the issues of gaining traction amongst the website’s target audience, the accuracy of the website’s search engine, and the feedback provided while troubleshooting. Although these pain points did not render the website unusable, they must be addressed in the redesign of the Hoot Housing website. Participants’ feedback shed light on possible design solutions to mitigate these usability issues as well as helped establish usability benchmarks for future usability testing.