Usability Test: Emerald Downs Racetrack and Casino (Mobile Version)

Previously, I conducted usability testing on the Emerald Downs website as accessed using a desktop browser. This week, I performed the same usability test but using smaller form factor devices, tablets and smartphones.


For my mobile test I enlisted the help of three user testers. Two tests were conducted in person and one remotely.

Age, gender, educational attainment, and parent status of user testers:

  • 60-65 yo female, High School, with kids, low vision, uses a wheelchair for mobility
  • 25-30 yo female, Masters degree, with kids
  • 35-40 yo male, Bachelors degree, no kids

Devices and Applications

I used Mobizen for audio and screencapturing on my own mobile device, a Motorola Droid Turbo 2, to administer the in person tests. For the remote test, I spoke with the user on the phone while they accessed the site on an Amazon Fire device. As there was no screencapture and I was unable to observe their interactions with the site, what data could be collected was limited. I enlisted this person anyway because they fall into a demographic not represented by anyone else I had recruited so far.

Usability Test – Preliminary Portion

After starting the session by introducing the usability test and asking some preliminary questions, I gave user testers a couple of minutes to orient themselves on the homepage of the site (asking they not click on anything). I then requested they put the device down and describe their general impressions of the site, what it’s for, and what types of events are held at Emerald Downs.

Usability Test – Task Portion

For this portion of the test, I asked users to complete three tasks:

  1. Locate where events are displayed on the site and describe what information is available
  2. Determine whether Emerald Downs is a good place to bring kids. Are kid-specific events held?
  3. Imagine you have a free weekend coming up and would like to see some live horse racing. Locate this weekend on the calendar, find out what events were being held that day, and figure out at what time the gates open.

Usability Testing Script (Mobile Version): mobile-testing-script

Observations – Overall impressions of the site

All users commented on the site being visually appealing, with one user calling it “fancy” and another “colorful and interesting — the people in the photos look like they are having a good time”. Two users mentioned that the design looked “modern”. All were able to identify the site as belonging to the Emerald Downs Racetrack but only one volunteered “Casino” in their description of who they thought the site belonged to. When asked to list what kinds of events are held at Emerald Downs, all users included horseracing and live music.

One user complained about insufficient contrast between background and text color on the site and hard to read fonts. They cited the poor contrast as being why they misread “Responsible Wagering” in the menu as “Responsible Watching” and joked they thought this meant you weren’t allowed to heckle the horses or blow raspberries at them.

White text on grey background

White text on grey background

Observations – Task One

There are two primary links from the home page where users can access the event calendar, one in the main menu bar and another in a sectional block midway down the page. A user who spent more time exploring this main menu bar when initially surveying the site accessed the calendar through a link there under “Visit” while the other two users selected the turquoise block (see image below — what do you think about the contrast?).

White text on turquoise background

White text on turquoise background

Two users, including the one who accessed the calendar through the menu were surprised or thrown off by arriving on a view listing events rather than one displaying a calendar grid layout. All users selected the “Previous Events” and “Next Events” although only one user verbalized having understood that these links actually display the previous and next weeks worth of events.

page turners

Next events? Next week’s events?

I observed two users show signs of frustration at having to use these links to view more events instead of being able to scroll to see more. One user looked for but was unable to find a link to access the desktop version of the site.

All users noted the legend at the top of the calendar view and two users voluntarily “sorted” by these options. One user who did so said that it “doesn’t do anything”. (These links do actually work, but the feature isn’t accurately named — they filter results, not sort them.)

sort vs filter

Sort vs. Filter

Observations – Task Two

Two of my user testers have children but only one has kids of an age where they currently face having to take them out for fun now and again. All users scrolled through the events and were able to call out ones they thought would be kid friendly. One user mentioned they thought daytime would be best for kids, since the site hosts gambling and has a nightlife scene with live music and dancing.

yeehaw family fun

Family fun at Emerald Downs

One user located the clubhouse menu under “Dining Options” in order to find out what food was available. They located the menu but noticed pricing wasn’t provided, which they thought should be.

Quick Pix Cafe - no prices?

Quick Pix Cafe – no prices?

Observations – Task Three

All users were able to find an upcoming weekend to set their imaginary trip but two seemed or mentioned being bothered to have to click through each successive week to reach the weekend they wanted.

When attempting to locate an upcoming Saturday or Sunday, only one user complained the weekday wasn’t provided alongside the date. This user (who I ran through the test with remotely) actually had someone near them pull up a calendar on another device in order to collate weekday information. I suspect the other users may have offered this complaint as well had I asked them specifically to pick a Saturday or Sunday.

Only a weeks worth of events are displayed at a time and users have to click through each week successively in order to arrive on the one that they want. One user who seemed to enjoy clicking and scrolling through each week to see what was happening didn’t mention being frustrated by this but the others said that they thought there should be a way to go directly to a date or that it should be faster to get to a given date.


Based on data collected from conducting this usability test with three users, I’ve identified the following pain points and list them along with recommendations on how to overcome them (these correspond to observations in bold from users):

* Adjust text and background color where needed to make text easier to make out by those with low vision
* Adjust fonts where needed to those easier to make out by those with low vision
Event display options
* Provide the option of viewing events on a grid displaying monthly calendar
“Previous/next page” labels in event listing
* Change labels from “Previous Events”/”Next Events” to “Previous Week”/”Next Week”
Link to desktop version
* Add one
Sort vs. filter using event legend
* Change label from sort to filter
Menu Prices
* Include them
Calendar navigation
* Provide an alternate way for users to access a given date, by either clicking on a calendar grid or using a dropdown
Information on date cards
* Provide the weekday next to month and numeric day

Additional comments about accessibility information on the site

One of my users requires the use of a wheelchair for mobility and has low vision. They estimated spending 30 hours using the internet each week, exclusively through a touchscreen tablet. I spent extra time asking questions of this user outside of the given tasks in order to find out what they thought about the site.

In addition to the standardized tasks, I had them explore the site for information about wheelchair access. The first thing they did was go to a page set up for “Parking” and found a section there specifically for “Patrons with Disabilities”. From there they went to the “Admission” page where ticket information can be found, finding there another more expansive section with information for those with disabilities.

Main menu

Main menu

Aside: Prior to running to asking the user to complete these extra tasks, I made myself do them. While I was able to (eventually), it took me considerably longer and included more “dead ends”. I believe it’s very possible web users with disabilities develop highly-tuned information seeking patterns and skills which allow them to navigate more readily to this pertinent type of information (know exactly where websites “hide” this information). The more I think about how this particular user responded to the task, the more logical the choice to start at “Parking” and then head to “Admission” seems. Perhaps they were imagining the visit and stepping through it chronologically — first you arrive in the parking lot, then you show/buy your ticket…

When asked whether they thought Emerald Downs would be an easy or stressful place for someone with limited mobility to visit, they said ” it seems like they’ve done all they can to make it as easy possible”.

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