Brightline App Mobile Usability Testing

Brightline is a new high speed train service in Florida. We were tasked with testing the booking app and related top tasks. Using moderated in-person usability testing, we recruited nine participants and generated a findings and analysis report based on our analysis.

The Problem

We wanted to conduct usability testing to identify potential improvements for the booking app.

Our research goals were to:

  • Observe user patterns and behaviors as they attempt a set of common tasks using the mobile application
  • Identify how easily users accomplish common tasks
  • Understand users’ experiences and expectations as they work with the app
  • Gather user attitudes and perceptions as they relate to this type of booking app


Our formative usability study followed the “think aloud” protocol by asking test participants to describe their thoughts as they attempted to complete three separate tasks. We recruited nine participants for this study. We used a moderated in-person testing method.

Video screenshot of conducting in-person mobile usability testing.
Video screenshot of conducting in-person mobile usability testing.


  • Each video was observed, which helped surface patterns and themes based on how users navigate the app and attempt the tasks.
  • From the initial observations and findings, themes were sorted and given prioritization based on frequency of the issue and other qualitative feedback. Post-test questions also help to influence the findings.
  • We then developed recommendations that address several of the findings.
Main takeaways:
  • The booking process is clear and the app gives users a straightforward entry point to begin booking a trip.
  • The app’s overall performance and technical issues can easily frustrate users.
  • Aspects of the seat selection task in the booking process has room for improvement.

Lessons learned

  • Usability testing on mobile apps can be difficult to see how a user is interacting with the app. Having a way to record the phone screen or video record the phone is important so you can later view how the user is interacting with the app.
  • If possible, make users comfortable and allow them to use their phone. If they are not comfortable downloading an app, have a backup phone ready for them to use. People are often the most familiar with their own devices.
  • Probing users to “think aloud” is an important reminder when conducting in-person moderated usability testing.