Survey Design for Icon Usability

Hotwire Icon Usability


Designers at Hotwire had a hunch that some of the icons on the app and website were not intuitive for users, but they had no proof. They approached me in advance of a scheduled icon redesign workshop, to help uncover any usability issues with the current icons and suggest high priority changes.

How do you know if icons are aiding the usability of your product?


Icon Recognition and Findability


I devised a user study protocol to test the meaning recognition and findability of the 15 main Hotwire icons. We had 10 users give feedback through a study designed on and Qualtrics. The end result was a clear distinction between icons that improve task completion and icons that impede it.

I presented my findings to kickoff a multi-day workshop to strategize and redesign Hotwire’s most critical icons. 


Icon Meaning Recognition

In the first survey, I tested the icon's meaning recognition. Participants were asked to select the icon that they most associated with the given meaning. I chose other icons from our library that commonly appear on the same page as the other options.I counted participants' responses to see if the intended icon was the one they chose most often.


Icon Findability

After the first survey, the 10 participants were divided into two groups - one group would do the findability task with icons and one would do the task without icons. I could then compare the time to click and the success of the participants' first click across the two versions of the interface.


Actionable Outcomes


My findings from this study were used as evidence for changes to the icon library and the UI of the Hotwire website and apps. The icon library update and consolidation project referred to these findings as they redesigned the core icons.  

There were several version tests created based on my findings as well. Hotwire tested changes to the copy instead of the icon in instances where recognition was high but findability was low. We also tested removing some icons all together in instances where findability and recognition were lower with icons than without. 

Most importantly, I know I helped my colleagues find their way forward in this redesign. Below is a response to my presentation and research report from the lead UI designer on the project.