Design the reservation experience for students, professors, and community members to check availability and reserve one of the music rehearsal spaces within the new center. Provide your overall process, a wireframe flow, and one-two screens at higher fidelity.
Reserving a space or room for rehearsals is a tedious job and can take weeks for the overall process. Adding to the trouble, most of the universities lack online request form and this delays the process as significant part of the work is completed through paperwork.
How do we design the system for reserving a rehearsal room based on several factors?
Come along with me; let's empathize with users!!
I decided to interview students that perform during cultural events in the universities and understand the requirements for a rehearsal room. To understand the other side of the coin, that is administration part I went to campus center to discuss with a technical assistant about the process involved in booking a rehearsal room.
Janey - Student at IU
"Reserving a room in existing campus center is damn complicated. We hardly have any events in a month then why does it take four weeks to grant us a rehearsal room.
Can we have an online form rather than visiting the campus and doing the paperwork?"
Ron - Technical assistant at IU
"The students often get to me and complain about the issues in the rehearsal spaces regarding finishes, improper functioning of instruments and HVAC, security issues and delay in granting the room. But it's not that easy to monitor these issues and address it to respective departments"
Hanny - Student at IU
"How can they expect us to book a room without looking at the room images and knowing about the room acoustics? Poor room acoustics have spoiled my rehearsals in the past. Additionally, I have to carry my instruments all the way to campus center which intimidates me to the extent that I rehearse at home"
Primary research insights
I summarized interviews and deduced insights that play a vital role in the reservation process. Additionally, discussions assisted me in gathering initial thoughts of the existing reservation structure in Indiana University.
Secondary research insights
I researched more about rehearsal rooms and their functioning in several universities including renowned universities like Jacob school of music, Thorton school of music, Manhattan school of music, etc. These universities with large-scale operations consisted 166 - 300 rehearsal rooms depending on various factors like instruments available within the rooms, the capacity of the rooms, multi-media equipments within space, etc. I did a competitive analysis to define the constraints and factors that set the base of the reservation system.
I managed to find an online room reservation system: VEMS adopted by Thorton school of music for faculties and students. Interface handles more than 300 rooms with a filter feature including several parameters. I went through the interface to roughly note down features and content that should be in focus.
Image shows the integrated structure of input and output on the same interface to provide flexibility to the user for any modifications depending on requirement.
Image shows the statistics of the rehearsal rooms available within the university
The system notifies the user of the recent activities through email which also acts as a receipt of confirmation.
The system prompts the user to fill in the personal information rather than pulling up the data from University portal.
Setting up the structure
Using above insights, I established following fundamentals to assist in the design process.
Journey mapping of a student
Considering existing process for reserving a room in Indiana University, I mapped the journey of a student with an intent to reserve a space. I identified pain points where there could be an opportunity to improve the system and provide a quick result.
Goals to achieve
After conducting interviews, observations and mapping down the user journey, I decided to focus on following goals:
1. Create a rapid method for users to filter out the required rooms
2. Assist users to make their choices of spaces depending on the past experiences
3. Ensuring the rehearsal rooms are well organized and upgraded
4. Involving team members or friends during the process
5. Monitoring the spaces and the needs of the students, faculties or community members
Exploring Potential solutions
Based on above studies, I was quite clear about the content and features that need to be incorporated into the reservation system. These persuaded me to brainstorm on potential solutions that could meet derived user goals.
During brainstorming phase, I thought about pro's and con's of the several solutions to shortlist the ones that are technically feasible and easily implemented.
Mobile web app:
It provides enough flexibility to the user for reserving the space despite location and users are not required to install an app to reserve a seat.
Will users prefer web interface over mobile web app due to its legible details?
Smart Crimson Card:
Smart university card can be one way of tracking rehearsal rooms that are vacant and reserving the seat as per requirement.
The smart card will prove expensive to maintain, and any error in the card may render it useless.
Large screen Kiosk:
Large screen kiosk will assist users in accessing multiple features at a time thus stimulating the reservation process.
Will user prefer to walk through the large screen kiosk to reserve a seat?
Low fidelity prototype
I chose Mobile web app compared to other potential solutions as users can easily access the product irrespective of location or time. Users don't need to install the app and update it frequently to reserve a seat. I started iterating and creating paper prototypes to list down the factors discussed during interviews. I created multiple options for a particular screen and refined it to reduce the number of steps and cognitive load on the user.
Once I finalized the paper prototypes, I created low fidelity prototypes on Figma to ensure the flow follows UX guidelines and standards.
The user can register using university ID for reserving a space rather than creating an account.
Landing screen is divided into two sections - upper section allows the user to fill in the requirement for the room while lower section yields result for the above conditions. The user can scroll horizontally to look for suitable rooms. This gives an instant output without any additional interaction with the interface and prevents cognitive load on the user.
The calendar can be expanded if required to facilitate smooth interaction. Alternatively, the user can search for a specific room through the search bar at the top for reservation.
The user can save the listings resulted from the requirements through a bookmark icon on the image and can share the photos of the room through the share icon.
Filter down the results
Respace allows users to filter down results by specific requirements listed in the filter tab. This will work best when the scale of the program increases and so does the number of rehearsal rooms within activity center.
This screen is divided into five sections
The first section includes visual images of the room to assist users in analyzing the space.
The second section displays the information about room capacity, musical instruments available in the room, description about the space and friends that have used the space earlier. The user can directly contact his friends to know about their experience with space before reserving the room.
The third section displays the calendar for that room and users reservation date and timings. The user can edit the timings through this feature if required or repeat the reservation for another day.
The fourth section provides users with the flexibility of requesting additional instruments in the room for the specified date.
The last section displays the reviews and ratings for the room by past users. This feedback can assist users in selecting the appropriate room for rehearsal. Additionally, it will be reviewed by the administrator to fix the issue quickly and make it suitable for the activity.
Easy access to archives
Users can easily access their past bookings to reserve the space. Apart from previous bookings, the user can view calendar, messages or notifications if any in case of reservation or cancellation.
To ensure that complaints from the users are monitored, the technical assistant or administrator should follow up with the complaints and validate it once the issue is fixed up. This requires App to be customized for admin role and provide enough flexibility to modify amenities provided in different rooms as per requirement.
Filter options can be extended further as per the scale of rehearsal rooms and increase in the number of students.
Accessibility approach needs to be taken into consideration while designing the mobile web app. Information regarding accessibility feature in the room can be displayed in the search list.
I will love to conduct usability evaluation on this product to get critique from users and incorporating the insights into design. I would probably work more on interactive transitions between screens to reduce cognitive load on the users and facilitate a smooth user experience