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Success Story: Intercontinental Hotels Group

Users tell us what they like through the cards


How do you get at that elusive quality of desirability when you want to understand your users’ experience with your website, mobile device, or software application?

With the help of a set of word cards, users choose the cards that reflect their feelings, and we capture the essence of their experience in their own words.

Playing the cards in three phases

IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group) developed a forward-thinking, eagerly anticipated web application for their hotel properties to use to assess their “green” initiatives and plan for making their hotels greener.

A great idea.


Phase 1 testing

Testing of the first design of the application showed that users loved the idea of an application that focused on green initiatives, but they were frustrated by the confusing design and poor delivery of the content. Participants’ repeated positive card choices were low with only comprehensive, professional and usable selected twice each. Negative choices were much more numerous, with the themes of quality, appearance, ease-of-use, speed, and motivation receiving many negative comments, indicating the feelings the 14 participants had about their experience. The feedback was so negative that the product manager decided to scrap this version and start over.

Phase 2 testing

After a delay of many months, when the application was being completed reconceived and redeveloped, a prototype of the new version was tested, and the cards played a central role in telling us how users felt about their experience.

The transformation of the users’ experience was night to day. The positive card choices from 12 users now represented 82% (compared to 42% in the first study) with the most often selected card being useful.

Phase 3 testing

Just before launch, a final usability test was run with the cards to see how users felt when the system had all of its functionality. This time, all of the participants chose only positive words—an astounding 100% positive language choice.

The theme of speed now predominated and confirmed that the earlier negative issue of slow speed was now a positive feeling of fast speed—the application was fast, time-saving, and efficient.



It’s all in the cards. IHG understood what their users liked, and knew they had successfully reached their goal. The launch went smoothly, and the results have produced a growing number of adoptions of the application.

And, even better, greener hotels.