Room booking and scheduling system

A personalized time-management and scheduling system designed to maximize productive time for students when managing room bookings

Team FE and BE Developers, Product Manager, Visual Designer

My Role As the only UX designer on the project, my work had to begin and end with the user through processes that involved research, idea generation, facilitation, design, and testing to ensure that the solutions helped the users save time thereby focusing on things that matter like planning other logistics related to their activity

Research Techniques Desk Research, Observation, Interviews, Competitive Analysis

Date 2020

Why - Having a manual booking system meant that users faced frequent challenges when booking rooms for activities

Users found it really challenging to successfully book rooms because of a manual and antiquated process that was used at the time. An attempt to improve this experience at the time still lacked key features that is expected of a modern booking system. For example, basic features like viewing already booked rooms by others and the user's booking history were missing in the UI.

Outcome - An improved room booking management interface that moved away from manual to a fully automated process

We saw a significant reduction in the number of booking conflicts reported by users and an increase in their efficiency as they were now able to focus on what mattered most, like planning their events rather than finding a way to navigate the complex system at the time. Post-release qual interview with users showed a huge satisfaction in their experience when booking rooms.

Steps in getting to better understand the current state and challenges faced by users

1. Interviews: I interviewed 7 students, who were primary users to understand their current experience. This number was an ideal representation that would allow me to gather enough insights to explore the problem space and draw up hypothesis and goal statements.

2. Hypothesis Formulation: I drew up a hypothesis, as follows; "We believe that designing a more improved and technology enabled process of booking rooms for students and staff it will make the process more efficient and reduce the frequency of human error".

3. Secondary Research and Competitive Analysis: I spent time gathering existing resource and data to get more insight on the challenges that users were facing. This also included drawing analogous inspiration from other booking systems like those of airlines and hotels.

A key output of the research phase involved defining success and what it means in relation to user's current experience and the optimal expected outcome.

Previously, the process of booking rooms meant that students had to meet a member of the admin to to have their name written down on a piece of paper. A process where so many things could go wrong.

Overview of key features introduced to help improve the booking experience

1. Scan Available Room: Providing visual cues using colors and a default tiled view made it easier for users to scan the canvas.

2.Calendar view: Previously, room booking was made very traditional using spreadsheets with a long list of rooms. With the redesign of this experience, I was able to identify a new way to improve this experience by creating a single calendar view that can be zoomed in and out using a slider depending on the user's preference.

3. Search and Filter: Searching and filtering results was an important feature that needed to be prioritized in order to optimize their experience. Users can drill down from grid view to a single view. Also, the use of tags meant users found it easier to differentiate between rooms based on room type and capacity. Lastly, optimal experience meant being able to allow users navigate the canvas space easily by zooming in and out, and navigating left to right and top to bottom.

4. Feedback Mechanism: To ensure this drawback are avoided in this solution, I had to ensure that bookings made by the user are obvious and those created by someone else. In addition, the room name appears on the booking and the person who made the booking.

Key Behavioural Metrics Achieved:

1. 8 out of 10 users were able to complete task of booking without experiencing any conflict making 80% success completion rate and an increased confidence rate of > 85% based on the sample size.

2. Specific tasks like scanning scored high during testing adding to the overall confidence level of the solution proposed.

Retro on the result and lessons learned

Within the product team, we experienced some challenges mainly around technological integration, where the design solution required a new tech stack and resourcing to implement based on time constraints. We also had to get more people aligned to get things moving. On the other hand, we anticipated a steep learning curve for admin members who previously used a paper-based system to help students book rooms and so this required a significant change management process to get them onboard and empower them for a new and innovative automated system.

In addition, I identified a few missed opportunities like embedding training and onboarding processes within the tool. Rather what we created was a functionality playbook using google slides. Also, if I had to make an iteration of the designs, I will include an option for users to share their bookings with others yet having their privacy hidden based on their preference.

The impact of this solution saw a significant reduction in the number of room booking conflicts reported by admin members and an increase in their efficiency. Admin staff felt that they had been powered up as a result of this improvement. It was also a significant leap from a paper-based system of booking to a technology-powered system.

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