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A revised version of our product design project in DESNathon contest
In a two-day DESNathon challenge, my team focused on designing a tool for student empowerment at York University. Believing that information is power, our solution is to develop an all-in-one platform that makes information transparent to York students. The app provides lab availability information, access key services, a booking system, and in-app chat to make students' time and tasks more manageable.
Research, Prototyping, Branding & Visual Design
Jun Lai, Hanyan Luo, Xiaoxuan Liu
February & May 2022 (a 2-day challenge and 3 weeks of app revision afterwards)
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the functioning of society and has given people a new way of living. Given that the pandemic is far from ending, learning how to live with the covid while protecting ourselves has become an important topic we need to consider.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on students’ access to york design labs and equipment. With room maximum capacity restricitons, commuting difficulty, and information asymmetry, accessing labs has become more difficult.
Besides, our survey of lab access suggests that most students have trouble locating lab monitors and don't know all the services that York U labs provide. When entering the lab under covid restrictions, most students don't know the queue and have to wait outside the lab until someone leaves, and some students are having trouble accessing labs due to technical issues.
Through analyzing the research, there were three pain points as to why the current workflow of labs is lacking efficiency.
1. Scattered Information
All the information that students need is scattered on different platforms: Announcements are sent in emails, guidelines can only be found on websites, and lab schedules are printed physically in the school.
2. Time-Consuming Access
All facilities are available on a first-come-first-served basis, and they are under room maximum capacity restrictions. Since students are not able to get real-time information, a time waste waiting for available services is inevitable.
3. No Schedule Planning
Schedule planning for lab access is unavailable for students. Without this feature, the uncertainty of accessing labs increases the difficulty of both task and time management.
So WHAT can we do to make the design labs services more accessible? HOW can we save students from the hopeless waiting?
Lab Tap provides an all-in-one platform to develop a new work style for design students to better spend time in labs and plan their visits ahead of time. Since all the students need to tap their student cards to unlock doors, Lab Tap makes the best use of the tapping action by recording the number of entrants and syncing real-time data to the app. Students will be able to check the availability of the labs and manage their workflow based on that. With Lab Tap, receiving real-time updates, preparing your work files and getting assistance from monitors couldn't be easier.
1. Integration of different features
By integrating these essential features into one application, it provides a more convenient way for students to do project planning. Students now only require one app to do the job, instead of sending dozens of emails but still can't get real-time updates of the situations.
2. More efficient workflow
The App will provide guidelines for using equipment, equipment availabilities, and the ability to contact monitor in real-time. Students can skip the process of sending emails, or coming to the school just to find out a piece of equipment is unavailable.
3. Better booking system
Right now there is no existing booking system for the labs. During the peak period, the first-time-first-serve policy will cause inefficiency for both students and faculty members. Our solution aimed at providing students better way to plan time for their projects.
4. Everyone can master it
Easy to use with clear information.
In order to better understand our target audience, we developed three user personas that are design students at York University with different characteristics and needs. We considered them during the design process and wanted to create the best product for them.
To get easy and quick access to design labs, we ensured the most important features, such as the lab access key, lab information and real-time chat, were shown on the navigation bar and found on the landing page.
After we figured out the user personas and system map, we quickly sketched out the low-fidelity wireframes to decide what the app should look like. For the DESNathon competition, we decided to use York red as the main colour to design a nice and clean interface with a strong connection to York University. However, during the revision phase after the competition, we extended the possibilities of Lab Tap, in which students from other universities can also use this app to manage their tasks. Based on the critiques and feedback we got, we experimented with different layouts and colours to better serve our target audiences.
Easy login system for you to get quick access to lab occupancy information and your access key cards.
Tap your phone on card readers to unlock lab doors. The tapping action allows the card readers to record the number of entrants and sync real-time data to the app.
Get notified when a lab that has reached its maximum capacity becomes available. Save your time from constant checking.
To plan your future visits, use the booking system to choose a time and upload your files in advance.
Request For Assistance
With visualized locations of lab monitors, you can always know where to find them. You can also send a request for in-person assistance or ask a question in the real-time chat window.
To further popularized Lab Tap and fulfill the need of a broader range of target audiences, we also developed the interfaces when users log in as school staff. Below are the two scenarios we created from the perspective of lab monitors.
Manage all the requests you received to better plan your time and tasks.
Answer students' questions or contact colleagues within the app.
Take A Break
Turn on the "on a break" button to conceal your location from everyone until you are ready to work.
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