Design Brief: Redesign the reservation experience for students, professors, and community members to check availability and reserve one of the music rehearsal spaces.
My Design: A web app that facilitates a hassle-free experience for a user to find a desirable rehearsal space, schedule for recurrent events and keep track of appointments.
Duration: 1 week
Tools: Sketch, Illustrator, Photoshop, InVision
Design Process Overview
Current System Evaluation
I started by evaluating the CMU's existing room reservation system for music students and professors to gain a basic understanding of the current reservation process.
Conducting user interviews with music students and professors helped me identify their motivations, needs and pain points in the context of reserving rooms for rehearsal and other practice purposes.
Things I wanted to explore through interviews included but not limited to:
- Platform they use to reserve a room
- Key factors to inform which room to reserve
- Most stressful moments
- Challenges of ensembles
Insights synthesis & Design criteria
After synthesizing the insights from students and professors, I identified many pain points. For the scope of the project, I decided to focus on the top problems, from which I derived the following design criteria to help guide my design decisions.
1. Tedious repetition - Having to repeat the whole reservation process from scratch every time users need a room, especially for frequently recurrent use, is a tedious process.
2. Overabundant information - Users have little interest in seeing availabilities for rooms that are not relevant to their purposes.
3. Easy to miss a rehearsal - When semester gets busy, ensemble members have a hard time staying on top of their rehearsal appointments.
4. Fail to consider others - Sometimes, users may book more time than they need or fail to clean up after themselves, causing inconveniences for other users.
1. Provide "shortcut" - Allow users to move through the reservation process efficiently by providing shortcut, such as auto-fill, based on their previous record.
2. Remove excessive information - Help users find the information they need quickly.
3. Keep users on track - Support users in managing their reservations and keeping them on track.
4. Encourage responsible behaviors - Reserving rooms for practice is essential for every music students and professors, therefore the solution should encourage users to respect each other and make responsible decisions.
Bearing the research findings and design criteria in mind, I started to ideate. I decided to pursue with the direction of a web-app based on the understanding that users want quick access to check availability and make reservation without the hassle of downloading an app. I sketched several possibilities for key pages and made the decision to pursue with one myself.
If I had longer time to work on the project, I would invite users to co-design with me or do a quick A/B testing to inform my design decisions.
6 Main Features
For the scope of the project, I focused my effort around the following features:
Filter: set purpose upfront
Research shows that students have higher priority to book a room they want with certain practice purposes, such as recital. Setting their purposes upfront will affect the available rooms they can choose from.
Novice users, such as freshman, can get room recommendations based on their purposes of reservation without the need to be familiar with the rooms.
Filter: full control over room selections (expert-user-friendly)
Through user research, I learned that in most cases there are more than one room that meet users' needs. Expert users are very familiar with these rooms and they would prefer maximum control over selections.
By allowing these users to select all suitable rooms at once, the system maximizes the chances for them to find an available room they desire, and thus avoiding repetitive search down the road.
Overtime, the system will learn users' preferences, and auto-fill the selections for them in future search.
Suggest future times for unavailable rooms
The order of search results is based on availabilities for the rooms selected. Understanding that users sometimes have strong preferences over certain rooms that might not be available on a given date, the system enables users to find future times for the rooms easily.
Reservation made easy for recurrent practices
Users can check availabilities for weekly/monthly recurrences and make reservations in advance.
Future consideration: after showing the idea to a faculty member who manages the reservation system, I realized that there are challenges and risks to allow users to add recurrence, which I will discuss further in "Future Steps."
Keep participants informed
Users can add multiple team members for a reservation. The members will get automatic confirmation email once the reservation is successful.
A push notification will also be sent out automatically to the participants to remind them of a rehearsal practice that is coming up in two hours.
A credit system that encourages responsible behaviors.
A credit system encourages users, especially students, to respect each other and behave responsibly.
Notifications will pop up in context of a reservation process to remind users to make considerate decisions in exchange for credits, which will affect their privilege to book rooms.
Try it out with this link: https://invis.io/U8G37XYD45W
High Fidelity Screens
I used my school's visual style sheet to guide my color choices. Since majority of the users are students who are in their early 20s, I decided to keep the visual language simple, modern, and straight forward.
User Testing and Next Steps
I tested my design with potential users using the interactive prototype I built. I also got feedback from the manager of the current reservation system. Based on the valuable feedback, I was able to map out the possible areas for future iterations.
Manual check from school faculty - Enable a school faculty member to manually check and confirm certain types of reservations, such as recital or recurrent events, to prevent errors and unwanted consequences.
Flexibility to negotiate for a booked space - Rooms are scarce resources, especially during high seasons. For future iterations, there is potential to add a communication feature that allows users to negotiate with each other over a booked space.
Synchronize with users' existing calendars and make smart recommendations - To make the room suggestions more relevant and increase the chances for users to find a match, there is the potential for the system to sync with users' existing calendars and make suggestions accordingly.