Smartphone Navigation On The Appalachian Trail: A Usability Test On The Mobile Application FarOut

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shelby Ann Pearsall (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Sarah Hopton

Abstract: This report details a usability test on FarOut (formerly Guthook), a mobile app widely used by long-distance hikers for trail navigation and information. The objective of this test was to identify key issues with the usability of the FarOut app, while simultaneously discovering what about the user experience makes FarOut widely successful in the thru-hiking community, and what can be improved in the app to make it more useful to hikers in the future.The test was designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Qualitative data was collected using a series of survey instruments and interviews. Quantitative data was collected while users completed scenario-specific tasks. The results showed that time—and thus technologies designed to save hikers time—was significant to thru-hikers and must be considered in future iterations of the app. Recommendations include an improved layout with more precise organization and labeling of buttons and pages, a permanent (off-line capable) tutorial system, the addition of a new page that locates all options for trail information, making all links and phone numbers clickable, and correcting zoom functions in map views. These changes will positively impact the user experience by reducing users’ time spent on the app, clicks necessary to perform functions, and mental energy spent learning how to use the app–all of which will help users reach their goals of completing long-distance trails with more ease and convenience.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Pearsall, S. (2022). Smartphone Navigation On The Appalachian Trail: A Usability Test On The Mobile Application FarOut. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2022
thru-hike, usability, mobile, application, design

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