Derecho: Improving Room Draw

A Human Factors Interface Design project by Sophia Seitz, Tenzin Choetso, Ian Hill, Austin Greene

Project Brief

During Room Draw at Olin every year, students become increasingly frustrated with each other and the Room Draw Committee because of poor communication. The current interface for suites and doubles to communicate their intent to room in a certain location is completely physical - students place pins on maps of the dorms. The high activation energy to check for and address conflicts slows communication and causes important conversations to be delayed or brushed under the rug.

Hallway culture is a major part of room draw conversations but there is no easily accessible method for making those discussions known and the intent of a certain group of students clear. At present, students can only speculate as to the culture of a hallway based their knowledge of the students planning to live in those hallways.

Our project will facilitate earlier, clearer communication for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in Olin’s room draw in order to alleviate tensions and prevent miscommunications.

A very rough possible implementation of this project can be found in the sketch below.

In the sketch, there is an interactive map of one floor of the dorm, chats of hallways that the user is interested in living in, and a profile of each of the suites/hallways that a user can click on. The profiles of suites and hallways might contain information like how loud the suite is, and whether they are planning on partying. Additionally, a user can navigate between dorms and floors using the buttons on the bottom left corner.

As we design the tool, we will be reaching out to past members of the Room Draw Committee and students who have participated in Room Draw to better understand their pain points with the current system. In conversations with participants, we will learn how students currently approach room draw and how our project could address their concerns.

Our target users are all around us, and we can collect stories and frustrations in person and through anonymous surveys.

The Derecho team includes students who have been room draw participants and one who has been a member of the Room Draw Committee. We have access to two cars which could allow us to interview students and administrators at other schools with different Room Draw systems and policies.

Our team consists of two people who have experience in web app creation, Austin and Tenzin, and two people who would like to learn how to build web apps, Ian and Sophia. Since Ian and Sophia would both like experience with building web apps, the two of them will lead the software portion of this project. Austin and Tenzin both would like focus more on the design portion of this project and will lead that effort. That being said, everybody will be involved in each portion of the project, but two team members will lead each portion of the project.

Rolly Chairs (Austin)

Rolly chairs maker it easier for workers in offices to move about, communicate, and collaborate. Moving around in rolly chairs gives users a certain sense of child-like joy. We would similarly like to reduce friction in communication and make our users enjoy it the whole time.

Pin Boards (Austin)

The pin boards are the current formal medium for communicating preferred double and suite preference. By physically placing pins students can make their intents clear and they make the spacial arrangement of rooms readily apparent. The flaws of this system serve as equally if not stronger inspiration. The boards are hosted on the second floor of the CC. This leads to both infrequent updating of the boards and a latency between them being updating and that information being disseminated.

Inbox (Austin)

Inbox is google’s most recent reworking of their email interface. It's goal, like ours is the figure out who you want to talk to and when and then to organize your conversations to make keeping on top of your communications easy. They do this by automagically creating inboxes that organize your emails and then display those by priority. We would like to make a system as effortless and efficient.

C to Python Transition (Austin)

C is a powerful but low level programming that requires programmers to keep track of memory and other values in ways that can be unintuitive. Python is a higher level language that sacrifices speed for easing of writing. Transitioning from writing C to writing Python, everything makes total sense immediately and programmers feel empowered by the speed at which they can fly through code that use to take much longer to write. We want moving from the old room draw process to ours to feel similarly liberating.

Candidates Weekend (Ian)

What makes Candidates’ Weekend uniquely Olin? Olin CW is surrounded with silliness, collaboration, and general goodwill despite the fact that it is a day of evaluation for the candidates. Despite the seriousness and formal policies surrounding room draw, we envision that our product will help students work together to plan mutually agreeable rooming arrangements.

Google Circles (Ian)

Google Plus uses “circles” to organize and label groups of friends. While very different from a social network, our product could use a similar interface to organize students into suites and doubles and make students’ rooming intentions clear. Students in circles representing suites could start discussions together to decide whether to invite other members to the suite and consider the suite’s location.

Email (Ian)

Many room draw conversations currently occur over email, and we believe that the written records provided by email are useful in the room draw process; however, email communication can be slow, and it can be difficult to describe hallway culture or a particular dorm location. Email inspired us to make our product better than email.

Facebook Group Conversations (Ian)

In high stakes rooming discussions, students want to talk to each other quickly without having to wait for a face to face interaction. Facebook’s personal messaging system allows for groups to communicate quickly and easily. Within seconds, a user can add the relevant people to a discussion and start sending messages. Our product ought to support some type of multi-student communication tool to facilitate rooming discussions.

Stack Overflow (Sophia)

We are inspired by stackoverflow (and generally all of the stackexchange collection of websites) because of the low barrier to information that it enables. If someone has a question about code, or anything else for that matter, they can likely look up the answer on stackoverflow, or a sister site. If they cannot find the answer to the question, then they can simply ask the question, and it will be often be answered relatively quickly by people who are genuinely trying to help others who might know less than they do. Although there are occasionally people who are mean, stackoverflow very much encourages people helping each other.

We would like to have the same low barrier to information in our tool. We want it to be as easy to find any information about where people are living and the possible hallway culture as it is to find any information about a bug on stackoverflow. Additionally, while we cannot prevent people from being mean to each other during the room draw process,we would like to encourage the same helpful, collaborative spirit in our tool.

Room Draw Planning Spreadsheet (Sophia)

Currently, this is one of the methods of communication that Olin students use to help facilitate the planning of room draw. Although this spreadsheet is typically used mostly to plan who people are living with, some groups, especially those in suites also use to figure out who has expressed a preliminary interest in living where and what culture each suite might be thinking about having. We want to make sure that our room draw tool facilitates the same initial expression of interest in suites, especially multiple possible locations as is enabled in this spreadsheet.

Seat Reservation on Airline Websites (Sophia)

When checking in for a flight, some airlines allow you to choose your seat on the airplane. The interface is not cluttered, and it is clear what seats have special qualities, like being an exit row or a seat with more leg room. In our room draw tool, we want it to be just as easy to see qualities, like loudness, of a hallway as it is to tell information about a particular seat in the airline check in process.

The First Iteration of a Class (Sophia)

At Olin, everyone knows that the first iteration of a class will not be perfect, but that with enough feedback, and open channels of communication, everything will be okay. We would like our room draw tool to encourage the same attitude and open communication channels.

Mint Bills (Sophia)

Mint Bills allows users to pay all their bills from a single app, as opposed to using a different app to pay every bill a user has. Currently, during the room draw process, people use many different means of communication, including, email, face-to-face, and pin boards, among others. We want our tool to reduce the different mediums of communication that people use to communicate about room draw and have them in one, consolidated place.

Printer/Copier (Tenzin)

While a copier allows you to make multiple paper copies of documents that you can share with other people and allows them to have access to the same information as you do, our tool helps users share information about their preferences early on in the room draw process so that other users can make their decisions accordingly.

Currently, there are instances where students were unaware of the culture of people they would be living close to until after the room draw processes. We hope to resolve misunderstandings and disputes caused by incompatibility of people within a hallway or floor by allowing our users to be aware of their peers’ preferences before the final room selection.

Face-To-Face Communication (Tenzin)

Many of the decisions throughout the room draw process are made through face-to-face communications. We will facilitate people to have the privacy of face-to-face communications with our tool by allowing our users to choose to only chat with certain people and since we believe that this method of communication is an essential component of the room draw process, we hope that our tool will encourage people to have more face-to-face communications by making them aware of students who have the same preferences as them.

Wikipedia (Tenzin)

Like wikipedia, majority of the content of our product will be produced by the users. The users of our product will be the ones who provide information about their interests in where they want to live and the kind of hallway culture they want. They are also the ones who will be using the information on the site to influence their final decision on the room draw process. While wikipedia is the first site people generally think of visiting to find information on any topic, we hope that our product will be a place where students will visit to find any information information on the site to influence their final decision on the room draw process. While wikipedia is the first site people generally think of visiting to find information on any topic, we hope that our product will be a place where students will visit to find any information related to room draw.

iPhone (Tenzin)

iPhones are generally easier to use and the user interface is more intuitive than android phones. Though Iphones have multiple features and users also demand more features, one of Apple’s main goal is to create products that customers can learn by themselves and they managed to keep the Iphone interface largely simple, which has contributed to the product’s popularity. While our tool will include multiple features to facilitate a smoother room draw process, one of our main objective is to ensure that students will find our product easy to use.

Bulletin Board (Tenzin)

This is a surface where public messages can be posted. Bulletin boards can be used to announce events, provide information or for advertisements to the public. While we want our tool to allow the users to keep certain conversations private, we need our product to be a place where any user can visit to find more information on the room draw process. Hence, we want our product to be like a bulletin board where information on which our user’s preferences in location and hallway culture is open for any student to view

Needs Analysis

The Problem

What does it mean for something to be “Olin-esque?” If one were to ask Oliners, one would hear many different answers to this question. Some students will quote the Honor Code while others cite their experiences in class, but consistently, the Olin community values cooperation, communication, and respect for others.

Every year, our current process for assigning students to dorm rooms invites students to abandon one or more of these values. We call this process Room Draw. In such a close knit community, students care deeply about who they will be rooming with and near. Students look forward to planning suites and hallways with their friends around a certain culture or theme, and they get emotionally attached to plans and potential futures. This high stress situation makes communicating intentions absolutely critical.

As an elegant and intuitive communication tool, our project aims to encourage collaboration by facilitating early communication. Through better communication, students can better understand each other’s intentions and resolve potential conflicts in a respectful and thoughtful way.

In the room draw process, we have identified three different stages: people deciding who they want to room with within a suite or double, people deciding who they are living with, and finally the stage where everything becomes official, and student life is in charge of placing remaining stragglers. A diagram of these stages can be seen below:

Of these three stages, we are focusing on the second stage -- where students decide where they are living. In this stage, students generally know who their room/suitemates are, but have not finalized a dorm, hallway, or room. We have chosen this stage of the room draw process because in the first stage, many of the conversations can, and do, happen offline. In the second stage, however, we have the opportunity to make communication more open and have lower latency. Conversations about culture and where people are interested in living concern multiple suites and doubles, and we would like to provide a communication and planning tool to facilitate these conversations.

Which Campuses Matter?

Although students at many campuses participate in room draw, we have elected not to make a room draw tool that aims to work for many different universities. There are multiple reasons that we have made this decision. The first reason is that room draw policies vary for every institution, and Olin’s room draw policy is very unique. At Wellesley and Harvey Mudd, for example all students or groups of students that are planning on living together receive a distinct rank, or order for their room draw process. In other words, every group of students knows exactly which other students outrank them and which they outrank. In this case, there is less room for communication -- people are not likely to compromise and communicate if they know immediately which person could take a contested room because of their rank. On the other hand, at Olin, room draw ranking is puts doubles and suites into groups where no double or suite knows the ranking of all the people within that group. This is possible because of Olin’s small size; at any larger school this would be a logistical nightmare. In Olin’s case, where there is no apparent winner for a contested space, communication and compromise are encouraged and required. While a planning tool that better enables communication for room draw might not be useless at an institution where the room draw policy does not encourage communication and compromise, the tool we plan to build would certainly be more useful at an institution like Olin.

Additionally, at many other schools, the room draw process is very condensed -- while Olin’s room draw process lasts for months. At other schools, there is simply not enough time for the conversations that our tool would enable to play out. At these institutions, after rankings are assigned and students are told which residence hall they are living in (often decided by student life administrators using a combination of students’ class year, previous residence hall and space left in the desired residence hall) there is one night where students can select the room they are living in. Before this night, unlike at Olin, it is not expected that a preference for a specific room is made public. In fact, at some schools, some rooms or residence halls are so much prefered that students scheme to get themselves and their friends into a specific hall or room. In cases like these communication is very much discouraged. In this case, a tool for making room draw a more communication friendly process would be entirely unhelpful, and designing a communication tool for such a case would be a waste of time.

Finally, we have heard in our conversations with students from different schools that their dorm culture is somewhat equivalent to our hallway culture. This means that, at another school, living in the “right” dorm is much more important than living the the “right” room or hallway within that dorm. At Olin, almost the opposite is true -- the dorm does matter, but it is incredibly important for students to be living in the “right” hallway with all their friends. Everything related to room draw at Olin is on a micro scale with many emotions confined to a small space. Here it is easy to blame other people as opposed to the system and this makes a room draw tool customized to Olin valuable.

Who Matters?

Because Olin’s room draw process is so unique, this product will be aimed at only Olin students who participate in the room draw process. This excludes Olin students who are R2s as well as those who have not found a suite/room mate before the suite and double selection deadlines. In our conversations around the room draw process, we have found that there are four distinct types of users.

    Hallway Organizer (Example: Ruth)

    These students are in charge of a group of either suites or doubles. They take on responsibility for organizing and placing groups of students.

    During the room draw process, hallway organizers are stressed out. They not only have the responsibility of one room or suite during room draw, but sometimes an entire hallway that is focused on living together. This means that they not only have to keep tabs on what other hallway organizers are doing, but also other independents who might have more points than any member of the group they are organizing. Their entire plan can be derailed with one unanticipated pin placement, and hallway organizers are very worried that this will happen in the room draw process.

    Hallway Member (Example: Shep)

    These are students that are a part of a larger hallway organization -- a group of friends all planning on living together. These students are just planning on living where their hallway boss tells them to.

    During the room draw process, hallway members are relatively relaxed -- they know that they’ll be living in a hallway with their friends, with the culture that they want, and there’s someone else in charge of organizing this. Although they do care about living with their friends, they also know that someone else is responsible for organizing this.

    Disengaged

    These people are not engaged in the room draw process at all. They do not care who they are living with and where they are living. They are not a part of a group that wants to live together.

    During the room draw process, disengaged members go with the flow. They may never lock in a roommate or go through the normal room draw process. As long as they wind up with a room before the semester starts, they are not concerned.

    Passionate Independent

    These students do care very much about where they are living or the culture of their hallway, but are not a part of a group.

    These students may have been kicked out of a hallway group or suite due to size constraints or care strongly about some outside factor. This factors include, but aren’t limited to, proximity to first years, sound, alcohol culture, natural lighting, proximity to friends, distance from enemies, ceiling height, and floor level.

    After identifying these four distinct types of users, we have fleshed out these types to create personas. A chart of our personas can be seen below:

In designing this tool, we know that we need to satisfy Nancy, the passionate independent. She cares very much about the culture of her hallway and the people who are living in her hallway, but does not have a specific group of people she plans to live with. If she were planning on living with a group, then many of the conversations about hallway culture could happen offline and simply be reported online. Nancy, however, has no access to information about hallway culture, and will have to resort to asking everyone who could possibly be living in the same area as she is, and might not get the responses she needs; she simply does not have the offline communication that someone living in a hallway group does. At the same time, though, we need to make sure we also satisfy Dylan. He needs the new room draw tool to not add any work to his plate that he does not even care about. While Shep and Ruth can have conversations about culture with their respective hallway groups, it is vital that they are able to make their intents for rooms and requirements for hallway culture known, so that they can make sure that their group does not get split. For example, Ruth might be very concerned with finding an appropriate double to fill out the party hallway she is planing, and Shep’s group is concerned about finding a quiet suite to share their hallway.

Requirements

As a result of our conversations with users, and discussion of our types of users, we have narrowed down the following requirements:

First and foremost, rising sophomores, juniors and seniors should be able to use the tool to indicate which rooms they are interested in as well as to gauge other students’ preferences for doubles or suites in East Hall or West Hall.

Additionally, in interviews with our users we found that hallway culture is one of the most important parameters people use to select where they are living. Ruth, Shep, and Nancy are all highly concerned about their hallway culture. As a result, our solution should allow people to view and submit preferences in hallway culture. Currently, there is no easily accessible method for making discussions on hallway culture known and the intent of a certain group of students clear. Indicating hallway culture will allow users to view and state their lifestyle such as when they prefer to sleep and how loud they are as well as their preferred drinking culture. They could also share their ideas on activities their hallway can do.

Similarly, we want to enable an open conversation about hallway culture. While in a group, conversations about hallway culture might happen offline and might be decided by the time room draw officially happens, Nancy and other passionate independents living together might not have as clear and cohesive an idea of the hallway culture that they want. We also need to enable and store these conversations in a centralized place, so that prospective members of a hallway can engage in chats to gauge if a particular hallway is for them.

Another requirement is that users are free to engage -- or not -- in whatever portions of the room draw tool that they want to. We do not want to alienate Dylan and the disengaged room draw participants or other people who do not feel comfortable stating information. Similarly, it is important that the entire room draw planning tool is not disrupted by a few users choosing to not engage with every feature of the tool.

Impact of a Successful Solution

We realize that the goal of this class is not to make a prototype that actually works, but if we design a successful and approachable user experience, we will make an effort to build a fully functioning prototype of our product.

In a world where Oliners use our tool to improve communication around Room Draw, students are rarely surprised to learn of conflicts over rooms. Room Draw no longer causes grudges and stress, and students approach the process confident that the outcome will be agreeable. Every Oliner is invested in making sure their peers are happy where they are rooming, and everyone looks out for eachother.

Austin Ian Sophia Tenzin
Project Brief 25 25 25 25
Consent Narrative 30 30 20 20
User Visits 25 25 25 25
Inspirational Designs 15 25 35 25
Team Website 5 60 10 25
Needs Analysis 10 30 30 30
Design Directions/Story Boards 25 25 25 25
Interaction Flow 25 25 25 25
Paper Prototype Creation 20 40 20 20
Paper Prototype Testing 30 30 20 20
Design Development 25 20 30 25
Design Refinement Wireframes 10 50 20 20
Design Refinement Prototype 40 20 20 20
Design Refinement Presentation 25 25 25 25
Design Refinement Writeup 25 25 25 25
Final Prototype Revision 27 27 27 19
Design Refinement Presentation 25 25 25 25
Final Refinement Writeup 25 25 25 25

Design Development

The Design

We designed a the interface for a web application to improve the experience around Olin’s Room Draw process. Students would be able to sign in using their network credentials and begin communicating their intentions around room draw.

Map and Browsing: Crafting a user experience to enhance the communication process around Olin’s Room Draw, we acknowledged that students, under the current process, are used to placing a physical pin into a piece of foam core with a map of each dorm printed on it. Although we considered a more abstract representations of Olin’s dorms and rooms in an effort to convey additional information and insights, we settled on placing the familiar dorm floor maps as the center of our design.

The user will see this page when they first log onto the web app. Notice that neutral tags are already populated on the left side of the page and the menu bar at the top of the screen allows a user to navigate through the each floor of the dorms at Olin.

Using the menu bar at the top of the screen, users can browse through the different dorm floors and get a sense of where other roommate pairs and suites have placed their pins. If a user hovers over a room where a pin has been placed, a small pop-up a appears telling the user who placed their pin in that room.

When navigating around the floor maps, user can hover over rooms to immediately see who has put a pin in a room.

Tags: An easily accessible and familiar map proved to be approachable for our users, but in order to really improve and add value to the process, our tool also needed to communicate additional information and make preferences more transparent.

To convey additional information, our design includes user created tags for rooms and suites. Tags that other have created are displayed in grayscale on the left side of the page from the time the user first logs on. Room or suite captain can weigh in on these tags indicating their room or suite’s preference around each of the tags as well as the relative importance of each preference. For example, a suite captain may drag the slider for “partying” all the way to the right to indicate that the members of the suite strongly like partying. Conversely a double captain may drag the slider for “messiness” only one tick to the left indicating that the members of the double somewhat avoid messiness.

When a user expresses a preference for a tag, it floats up to the top portion of the list and is ranked by preference from like to avoid. Additionally, a heat map of net agreement or disagreement with the tags updates on the map. In this case, blue would indicate higher agreement, and orange would indicate higher conflict. White would indicate no conflict, but also no agreement.

If a user selects another room, there is a button in the lower right hand corner which allows users to compare the user’s tag preferences to those of another room or suite. To show this, colored indicators are overlaid on the tag sliders to represent the preference of the room or suite being inspected.

When comparing preferences with another room, notice that blue indicators have appeared to express the preferences of the room being compared.

Map Overlay: The comparison tool is useful for comparing against individual rooms, but it does not allow a user to compare against an entire floor or hallway all at once. A heat map like overlay will allow this more meta level comparison. In the default state, the overlay will show the total tag ranking difference updating in real time as the user ranks more tags. This will allow users to, at a glance, see which areas have similar preferences and culture to them and which do not. upon selecting a tag the overlay will switch to show a heat map of that tag in particular, allowing for a more detailed inspection of cultural trends.

Benefits and Drawbacks of our Design

We have recognized a variety of user needs throughout our process. These range from the basic selecting a room, to the more nuanced, making individual and group culture more transparent and facilitating discussion. Firstly, our design has all of the basic functions of the current solution, the pinboard, people are able to select rooms easily and the latency of the analog solution is minimized. With this design you can see changes in real time instead of having to trek to the campus center. Our dynamic tagging system excels at allowing users to put forward a snapshot of their individual culture and the culture they would like around them. Our heatmap and comparison functions make it easy for users to see both in fine detail and in the aggregate the culture and attitudes of the dorms. By focusing so much on the culture piece of the room draw puzzle though, this design relegates facilitating discussion to the background. We include a way to send messages to other room draw participants but nothing more. We hope that by exposing culture preferences, people will be activate to have face to face conversations to pre-empt conflicts but we leave the impetus for these discussions on the users.

Why we're confident in this idea (The other things we tried)

Before narrowing down on the idea that we described above, we investigated three possible design directions. We created these design directions by identifying themes around what our users view as important.

Providing information about the big picture of who is living where

This design direction focuses on giving people as much information about who is living where as possible. One possible design interaction can be seen below.

In this design direction, we aimed to capture the idea that being able to visualize room draw on the dorm-level as opposed to a floor or hallway level would provide added value. Here, we want users to be able to not only be able to see how multiple floors are shaping up, but also be able to see easily who is living above or below them. Afterall, loud upstairs neighbors might be more annoying than loud neighbors across the hall. One possible interface we briefly investigated for this design direction is the “bubble map” visualization.

Although this is not a complete map of a dorm, this interface would allow a user interested in living in the West hallway on the 2nd floor to easily see who is planning on living in their chosen hallway, as well as the other hallways on their floor and the hallways above or below their second hallway.

There are a few main reasons that we did not move further than initial sketches of possible interfaces with this design direction. Although presenting information in a different way is an intriguing idea, there is little added value. In the current room draw process, people can access this information already. We are just reshuffling the information that already exists to display it in a different way. Although a tool that makes seeing the big picture of who is living where might be useful for someone like Ruth the Hallway Organizer (see personas from last phase) Nancy the Passionate Independent might not like this tool as much. Although she likes the idea of being able to see who is around her, she also cares a lot about the culture of the hallway she lives in, and this tool puts culture in the back seat in preference of visualizing data. Additionally, big picture information is not useful to people like Shep or Dylan who are not very engaged in this part of the room draw process, and having to navigate through the big picture information to select a room would frustrate them.

Facilitating communication about who wants to live where

Another of our design directions is facilitating communication around who wants to live where. A tool in this design direction would focus on making it easy to have conversations between people interested in living in/on the same floor, hallway, or room. Since our goal was to improve communication around the room draw process, this is perhaps the most obvious design direction, and the process for this particular direction is relatively simple.

As can be seen in the brief process diagram above, the process in a case centered around communication might involve navigating through a map of the different floors of a particular dorm, selecting a room that the user is interested in living in. If others are also interested in living in the same room, then users engage in a conversation about who gets the room, which will eventually end with one person getting the room and others having to find new rooms. Once a person has selected a room, they would be automatically added to public chats with all the current members of the hallway that other prospective members of the hallway could see. One possible implementation of this can be seen below:

We did not choose to pursue this design direction because we felt that it was too straightforward. There was an easily implementable solution, but we felt that this direction was not particularly innovative -- simply a digital representation of the current pin board process Olin has. For the purposes of this class, we felt that we could learn much more pursing our third design direction. Additionally, a system built around communication does not work for people like our Shep and Dylan personas who are not interested in communicating at all. This type of design would be frustrating for people trying to communicate with the Sheps and Dylans of room draw, and doesn’t necessarily add any value for a Nancy or Ruth who is trying to determine if she or someone else will be a good cultural fit or see how other hallway groups are behaving.

Making sure people are aware of the culture of their living area

Our third design direction, and the one we chose to pursue, is culture focused. As described above, in this design direction we are trying to add value by making information about culture that is not easily accessible in the current room draw process easily available to users. Although we landed on the idea of culture “tags” relatively early in the design process the the design interaction changed quite a bit from the early iterations.

At first, we wanted users to sort tags around whether they felt positively or negatively around a certain tag. The paper prototype of an interface for doing this can be seen below:

In this case, users would have to say that they feel positively about certain tags and negatively about others. In user testing, there was quite a bit of confusion about what what it meant to tag something as negative or positive. For example, does it mean the same thing to feel negatively about parties and to feel negatively about tea? For the purposes of room draw, is one more important? In the end, we decided on the more dimensional approach to ranking tags that lets users rank tags all the way from they can’t live near someone who supports this tag to they need to live near people who support this tag. This will clear up the confusion caused by having people sort tags into just two categories.

Another interaction that we spend a lot of time considering is how to visualize what tags a double or suite has in common and one that they disagree on. Our initial way to visualize this was to just show users how others had organized their tags into two grouped and provide some sort of heatmap that reflected net agreement. Pictures of these can be seen below:

In this implementation, although users can infer conflicts by knowing how they sorted the tags, and can get a net agreement score, there is no way for users to easily see which tags they agree on. Since being a cultural match is so important for people at Olin, we need to make it easy to see which culture tags are conflicting and which match in a particular situation, especially for tags that especially important to our users. As a result, a design that requires users to infer conflicts and agreements will not meet our users needs.

Insights Gained

We learned early on from our user visits as well as from our own experiences that the current room draw process requires better communication. By making information about room draw available early on to students, we feel that we could mitigate frustration during the room draw process by encouraging early conversations and discussions. In addition to location, we found that students’ interest in where they are living can be primarily influenced by hallway culture and other students living around them. While we decided that it is essential for the tool to display hallway culture as well as who is interested in living where, we realized by trying out different interface designs that the interface design that we decide on could look very different depending on which feature we decide to prioritize. This lead to our discussion on whether we think that the tool would be more useful if the information is presented in a way that allows people to view hallway culture easily or view people who are interested in living nearby. Hence, this exercise allowed us to delve deeper into what exactly do we think is most important and useful for our users to communicate about during room draw.

A feature that was most commonly requested by the students who had tried our paper prototype was the ability to view who had placed their pin in a room when they hover their cursor over it. They wanted a small pop up right next to the room with names of the people who are interested in living in that room. Our initial idea of viewing people interested in a room was clicking on that room, which also allows you to view the button to select that room as well as view the tags of those people. The request made by the students who tried our paper prototype made us realize that while we have been focused our making our tool primarily for indicating culture with the feature to select rooms, students should also have the capability to check who is interested in living around them and this task requires easy access to information. The users complained that clicking each room for browsing will be tedious. While we initially thought that pop ups would be bothersome when users happen to move their cursor over the map, we realized that browsing will be much easier with this feature.

Wire Frames/Site Map

Sitemap

Pictured below is the sitemap of our prototype.

The sitemap of our prototype.

In this sitemap, we aim to show all of the paths a user can take. There are two main paths -- exploring the dorms and indicating one's own culture preferences, which will each be described in further detail. The following documation will walk through each interaction a user can have with our prototype, starting with the login screen.

The log in "page" for our prototype.

Login Page: When users first open our webapp, they will come to a login screen. On this screen, they will see a message that tells them to log in with their Olin network credentials, for example sseitz and sophiaspassword. After inputting this information and pressing the login button, users will be taken to the landing screen.

The landing page for a new user. For a return user that had placed a pin, the landing page would be the floor that their pin is on.

Landing Screen: The landing screen is a view that contains a map of one floor of a dorm. The floor that is displayed is chosen with the following logic: if a user has placed a pin in a room, that floor of the dorm is displayed. Otherwise, if the user is a rising senior or junior, then the first floor of East Hall is displayed. Otherwise, if the user is a rising sophomore, the first floor of West Hall is displayed. Additionally, there is a banner on the top of the screen that allows users to switch between floors and dorms or logout of the webapp. When a user clicks on one of the floors, the map will transition to that floor, and this particular floor will be highlighted on the banner. At the start, whichever floor the user is on will be highlighted.

Along with them map of one floor of a dorm, there is also a “card” that displays user culture information, settings, and notifications. The tab currently selected is the user culture information tab. This tab contains the users and roommates name, currently selected room, and tags that they have interacted with. If users have not interacted with any tags, then the tags section will be blank, and they will only be able to see a search bar that has the words “search or add tag”. If they have interacted with tags, then this search bar will appear as well as the tags that they have ranked. In this case, the tags will be arranged from “need” to “can’t stand”, and a user will scroll the card.

From this view, the user has a few possible actions, they can search or add tags, explore the dorms, view notifications, or view/change settings.

This is what the tag searching interface will look like.

Add/Search Tags: Here, a user can search for tags. A user can search for a tag in the search box. If they find the tag, they can click the “+” button next to the tag to add it to their list of tags that they’ve ranked. If there are no tags that match the user’s description, they have the option of adding a tag that others can interact with.

When a user clicks on the search box, before they type anything, the search box will suggest that tags that that a user has not interacted with. These will be the five most popular tags that a user has not interacted with.

Once a user selects a tag, it will appear at the top of their tags list until they rank it. Users can rank tags by dragging the indicator from need to have to need to avoid. This interaction is shown below.

A user setting their preference for a given tag.

A user can also adjust their ranking on other that they have already ranked. Any time a user changes their ranking on an existing tag or ranks a new tag, the heat map will update to reflect the current net agreement/disagreement score.

Settings: From the landing page, a user can also change their settings. To do this a user can click on the settings tab on the card beside the map of the dorms. From this tab, users can choose which events they would like to get email notifications for (for example, when someone else has placed their pin in a room that is currently selected by the current user or when there is a new member in the user’s hallway). In this page, a user can also input the methods by which they would prefer to be contacted, like slac, email, text for example, and rank their prefered methods of communications.

The settings tab.

Notifications: A user can also click on the notifications tab at the top of the card to view their current notifications. This screen will look something like the facebook notification dropdown, and will just take up room in the card.

The notifications tab.

Switching Floors: Users can browse through different dorm floors using the menu bar at the top of the screen. Clicking on a particular floor on the bar will display the map of that floor and the floor name will be bolded.

Users can also explore different floors of a particular dorm.

Hover: When a user hovers over a room where a pin has been placed, a small pop-up appears telling the user who placed their pin in that room.

The hover "pop up".

Click: After hovering over a room, a user can click to select the room to view more information.

Inspecting a room.

Compare: The comparison tool is designed for comparing culture against individual rooms. When a user clicks on a room, there is a button in the lower left hand corner which allows users to compare the user’s tag preferences to those of another room or suite. To show this, colored indicators are overlaid on the tag sliders to represent the preference of the room or suite being inspected.

Comparing two users' tags.

Selecting Room: When a user clicks on a room, there is a button in the lower right hand corner which allows users to select that room. By doing so, the user’s name will appear along with the students who have also selected that room. Those students will receive a notification that someone else is also interested in that room.

After clicking once on the place pin button, the user gets a confirmation.
A user has placed their pin.

Contact Information: When a user clicks on a room, there is a “conversation button” which allows the user to connect to the students who have place their pins on that room. If the preferred method of connecting to them has not been indicated in the settings, the user will be directed to email them to their olin email accounts.

Finding other people's contact information.

Group Heuristic Evaluation

Bonnie Ishiguro, Marena Richardson, Chris Wallace, Susie Grimshaw

Overall we found the prototype design intuitive, and the idea of tags and ranking is compelling. There is a clear natural mapping between the map displayed on the website and the actual floor plans. Color is successfully used to convey information about the level of tag agreement with another room. Between the color coding and the room map, there is very little text necessary and most information is conveyed through visuals. Hovering over a room prompts feedback that clearly indicates you are getting information about the room you are currently hovering on.

There were parts of the prototype that confused us, and that represent possible areas of improvement. We encountered two issues with the buttons on the bottom right of the screen. We were initially unsure about their functions, since we did not associate the quote icon with contact info, and the ?= icon was also unfamiliar. These buttons also do not react in a significant way when you hover over them briefly, and there is no feedback when you click on them, which further obscures their use. We found a few color-related violations. The colors of the bottom right buttons match the high/low tag agreement colors, which falsely implies that they are correlated. Additionally, the orange color of a pinned room looks like an incompatible tag match, which could be misleading. The system around interacting with tags is not completely transparent. It is not initially clear, for example, that you can add a new tag using the ‘Search for Tags’ field. It is also unclear as to how people will know to rank themselves on any new tags that you create.

  1. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 3) {Found by 3}

    It is not initially clear that you can add custom tags, so I recommend indicating that explicitly on the dashboard. “Search for tags” maybe isn’t the right text for this field if it is meant to be a place where tags are added.

  2. [H5 Error Prevention] (Severity 2) {Found by 2}

    If everyone can add tags, how to other people know to rank themselves on new tags? Also, this system may lead to multiple similar tags that are all trying to answer the same questions.

  3. [H4 Consistency and standards] (Severity 2) {Found by 3}

    The word “notifications” does not make me think of direct messages. I originally assumed notifications would inform you an action, such as another roommate pair placing a pin on your room. Are these messages only visible to their direct recipients, or is there a group chat of sorts? Have you planned the flow for sending and receiving messages? (I realize that it is out of scope to simulate sending and receiving messages in this prototype, which would make the interaction with this section more clear.)

  4. [H2 Match between system and the real world] (Severity 2) {Found by 2}

    Recommend using meaningful icons instead of words to label the “pin,” “notifications,” and “settings” tabs to more quickly convey their purpose to the user. Without thinking too hard about the words, I originally thought that “notification settings” was one tab, and I only ended up clicking on “settings” separately by accident. As stated above, the meaning of “notifications” was not initially clear to me.

  5. [H2 Match between system and the real world] (Severity 2) {Found by 4}

    The icons for “Compare tags” and “Show contact info” on the bottom right of the screen do not communicate their functions to me. I needed to hover over the buttons to understand what they do. The “pin” button, however, is clear because I can connect it with the physical pins we use on the foam core boards.

  6. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 1) {Found by 1}

    The floorplan image disappears when my browser window is about half size, which may be a little inconvenient for the user, or confusing if he or she does not realize that there is a floorplan available.

  7. [H10 Help and Documentation] (Severity 3) {Found by 1}

    Overwhelmed initially. There are a lot of things on the screen and I’m not sure what to do first.

  8. [H3 User Control and Freedom] (Severity 2) {Found by 2}

    Can I unpin myself?

  9. [H2 Match between system and real world] (Severity 2) {Found by 4}

    I was initially confused by the ? button on the bottom right. I realized after reading your documentation more carefully that it’s the compare tags button- I would have expected it to be a “help” button.

  10. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 1) {Found by 1}

    If no one is assigned to a room, the “ button doesn’t do anything

  11. [H8 Aesthetic and minimalist design] (Severity 2) {Found by 1}

    The buttons and fonts on the login / sign up screen clash with the rest of the website’s flat and sans serif design. Additionally, some of the text underneath the pin, notifications, settings is Times New Roman. This choice is fine if intentional, but it looks haphazard.

  12. [H9 Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors] (Severity 3) {Found by 2}

    Can I remove tags from my list?

  13. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 3) {Found by 1}

    It is initially unclear to me whether the tags on the left represent my own ratings or just what I am using to compare to other’s ratings. How do I rate myself on these scales so that others can see how I compare to them? Can my scales be visually separated from the scales that I can mess with to see how different tag ratings correspond to others’ rooms?

  14. [H4 Consistency and standards] (Severity 2) {Found by 1}

    Empty rooms and rooms with middle tag agreement should not be the same color. You should choose a new color for middle tag agreement.

  15. [H3 User control and Freedom] (Severity 0) {Found by 1}

    Room says “EH” before I select one

  16. [H8 Aesthetic and minimalist design] (Severity 1) {Found by 1}

    Why are partying and movies defaults?

  17. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 1) {Found by 1}

    I definitely thought in my head that orange was good and blue was bad. Like I saw the color key and everything but I still thought the opposite. But that might just be me.

  18. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 2) {Found by 3}

    Buttons on the bottom right look kind of like buttons, but I would expect some hover behavior to increase discoverability.

  19. [H7 Flexibility and efficiency of use] (Severity 2) {Found by 3}

    Clicking pin and then a different room- the “are you sure” screen still exists. I can’t get rid of “are you sure” unless I pin to a room

  20. [H2 Match between system and real world] (Severity 1) {Found by 1}

    Missed initially that clicking tags added them below, was watching the map for something to change and nothing did. Match between system/real world might not be the correct heuristic for this.

  21. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 2) {Found by 4}

    The orange color of the room your pin is on is very similar to the orange of low tag agreement. But I like the consistency between the pin button and the color of the room.

  22. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 1) {Found by 3}

    Why are the first two buttons blue and the last one orange? It almost seems to imply that the first two buttons are somehow correlated with the “high tag agreement” blue and the last button is associated with the “low tag agreement” orange.

  23. [H1 Visibility of System Status] (Severity 1) {Found by 1}

    I can put my pin in a location, and then “put it there again”

  24. [H5 Error Prevention] (Severity 2) {Found by 1}

    When I select the pin, it prompts me if I am sure, however there are no additional dialogs to come up, my intuition is to press the button again to cancel it. This actually adds me pin instead of cancelling it

  25. [H6 Recognition rather than recall] (Severity 1) {Found by 1}

    I believe when I hover over the room, the letter indicates what group the person is in. It would be nice if this could be displayed without hovering over so I can clearly see who I am able to bump off without having to hover over the room. If I am trying to find a room that is already occupied it is very important I know who I can bump off. Maybe just a pattern indicating I can bump or can’t bump.

  26. [H5 Error Prevention] (Severity 2) {Found by 1}

    This may be a result of the fact that multiple tags on one room is not supported, but it seems weird that for now trying to pin on a room that is already occupied removes my previously pinned room and does not add a new one.

  27. [H8 Aesthetic and minimalist design] (Severity 2) {Found by 1}

    Why there are asterisks near the room numbers

Conclusion and Recommendations

We wanted to bring up some things we were unsure about with your design in case you had not fully considered them. There does not seem to be a way to tell which tags a roommate pair has ranked themselves on. Have you considered making this more transparent? What if you want to know how often a hallway plans to throw parties, but they have only ranked themselves on loudness level? Also with the loudness tag, pairs who want low volume and medium volume are more compatible than those who want medium volume and high volume. Shouldn’t that be reversed? Is there ever a situation where you would be upset with having quieter neighbors?

We have a few suggestions that we feel will make your design better. Since it is very easy to place your pin elsewhere, is the prompt asking you if you are sure necessary? Perhaps instead you could add feedback afterwards that clearly confirms that you’ve pinned yourself in a room, to avoid mistaken pinning. You are also using the same color (white) to indicate neutral agreement and an unoccupied room. This is confusing and changing the agreement scale to be colors that are not used anywhere else would solve that problem.

Appendix: Individual Heuristic Evaluations

Bonnie Ishiguro
  1. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 2)

    It is not initially clear that you can add custom tags, so I recommend indicating that explicitly on the dashboard.

  2. [H5 Error prevention] (Severity 2)

    If everyone can add tags, how to other people know to rank themselves on new tags? Also, this system may lead to multiple similar tags that are all trying to answer the same questions.

  3. [H4 Consistency and standards] (Severity 2)

    The word “notifications” does not make me think of direct messages. I originally assumed notifications would inform you an action, such as another roommate pair placing a pin on your room. Are these messages only visible to their direct recipients, or is there a group chat of sorts? Have you planned the flow for sending and receiving messages? (I realize that it is out of scope to simulate sending and receiving messages in this prototype, which would make the interaction with this section more clear.)

  4. [H2 Match between system and the real world] (Severity 2)

    Recommend using meaningful icons instead of words to label the “pin,” “notifications,” and “settings” tabs to more quickly convey their purpose to the user. Without thinking too hard about the words, I originally thought that “notification settings” was one tab, and I only ended up clicking on “settings” separately by accident. As stated above, the meaning of “notifications” was not initially clear to me.

  5. [H2 Match between system and the real world] (Severity 2)

    The icons for “Compare tags” and “Show contact info” on the bottom right of the screen do not communicate their functions to me. I needed to hover over the buttons to understand what they do. The “pin” button, however, is clear because I can connect it with the physical pins we use on the foam core boards.

  6. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 1)

    The floorplan image disappears when my browser window is about half size, which may be a little inconvenient for the user, or confusing if he or she does not realize that there is a floorplan available.

Susie Grimshaw
  1. [H10 Help and Documentation] (Severity 3)

    Overwhelmed initially. There are a lot of things on the screen and I’m not sure what to do first.

  2. [H3 User Control and Freedom] (Severity 2)

    Can I unpin myself?

  3. [H2 Match between system and real world] (Severity 2)

    I was initially confused by the ? button on the bottom right. I realized after reading your documentation more carefully that it’s the compare tags button- I would have expected it to be a “help” button.

  4. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 1)

    If no one is assigned to a room, the “ button doesn’t do anything

  5. [H2 Match between system and real world] (Severity 2)

    I also didn’t expect the “ button to be contact info.

  6. [H9 Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors] (Severity 3)

    Can I remove tags from my list?

  7. [H6 Recognition rather than recall] (Severity 2)

    Where do the notifications come from? Can I send one?

  8. [H2 Match between system and real world] (Severity 4)

    “Search for tags” maybe isn’t the right text for where I can also add tags

  9. [H3 User control and Freedom] (Severity 0)

    Room says “EH” before I select one

  10. [H8 Aesthetic and minimalist design] (Severity 1)

    Why are partying and movies defaults?

  11. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 1)

    I definitely thought in my head that orange was good and blue was bad. Like I saw the color key and everything but I still thought the opposite. But that might just be me.

  12. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 2)

    Buttons on the bottom right look kind of like buttons, but I would expect some hover behavior to increase discoverability.

  13. [H7 Flexibility and efficiency of use] (Severity 2)

    Clicking pin and then a different room- the “are you sure” screen still exists. I can’t get rid of “are you sure” unless I pin to a room

  14. [H2 Match between system and real world] (Severity 1)

    Missed initially that clicking tags added them below, was watching the map for something to change and nothing did. Match between system/real world might not be the correct heuristic for this.

  15. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 2)

    The orange color of the room your pin is on is very similar to the orange of low tag agreement. But I like the consistency between the pin button and the color of the room.

  16. [H4 Consistency and Standards] (Severity 1)

    Why are the first two buttons blue and the last one orange? It almost seems to imply that the first two buttons are somehow correlated with the “high tag agreement” blue and the last button is associated with the “low tag agreement” orange.

  17. [H1 Visibility of System Status] (Severity 1)

    I can put my pin in a location, and then “put it there again”

Chris Wallace
  1. [H5 Error Prevention] (Severity 2)

    When I select the pin, it prompts me if I am sure, however there are no additional dialogs to come up, my intuition is to press the button again to cancel it. This actually adds me pin instead of cancelling it

  2. [H6 Recognition rather than recall] (Severity 1)

    I believe when I hover over the room, the letter indicates what group the person is in. It would be nice if this could be displayed without hovering over so I can clearly see who I am able to bump off without having to hover over the room. If I am trying to find a room that is already occupied it is very important I know who I can bump off. Maybe just a pattern indicating I can bump or can’t bump.

  3. [H8 Aesthetic and minimalist design] (Severity 2)

    I do not understand what the apostrophe button means

  4. [H8 Aesthetic and minimalist design] (Severity 2)

    Why there are asterisks near the room numbers

Marena Richardson
  1. [H8 Aesthetic and minimalist design] (Severity 1)

    The buttons and fonts on the login / sign up screen clash with the rest of the website’s flat and sans serif design. Additionally, some of the text underneath the pin, notifications, settings is Times New Roman. This choice is fine if intentional, but it looks haphazard.

  2. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 3)

    It is initially unclear to me whether the tags on the left represent my own ratings or just what I am using to compare to other’s ratings. How do I rate myself on these scales so that others can see how I compare to them? Can my scales be visually separated from the scales that I can mess with to see how different tag ratings correspond to others’ rooms?

  3. [H5 Error Prevention] (Severity 3)

    If I type into the search tags field, it adds a new tag. This was not the default behavior I expected. You should create an explicit way to add tags. Also once a new tag is added, how do other rooms rate themselves on that axis?

  4. [H4 Consistency and standards] (Severity 2)

    Empty rooms and rooms with middle tag agreement should not be the same color. You should choose a new color for middle tag agreement.

  5. [H3 User control and freedom] (Severity 2)

    There is no way to abandon the are you sure mode for pinning a room.

  6. [H3 User control and freedom] (Severity 2)

    There is no way to remove a tag from my left panel once I have added it. I would add an x next to each of them.

  7. [H4 Consistency and standards] (Severity 2)

    My pinned room is yellow, which too closely resembles rooms with poor agreement in orange. You should make my pinned room a more unique color.

  8. [H5 Error Prevention] (Severity 2)

    This may be a result of the fact that multiple tags on one room is not supported, but it seems weird that for now trying to pin on a room that is already occupied removes my previously pinned room and does not add a new one.

  9. [H4 Consistency and standards] (Severity 3)

    The buttons bottom right do not make sense color wise or icon wise with the exception of the pin icon, which only makes sense icon wise. You should consider grayscaling these to remove confusion with the high and low tag agreement colors. In addition, because the default mode after pinning is to show contact info, the quote button gives me the impression of hiding contact info.

  10. [H2 Match between system and the real world] (Severity 2)

    Most people’s exposure to direct messages falls under the category of inbox or messages, thanks to email and Facebook, notifications seems like an odd term for this category. I would have expected notifications to be things like, so and so added a tag, would you like to rank yourself on it?

  11. [H1 Visibility of system status] (Severity 2)

    How do I send a direct message?

Prototype Instructions

Prototype Overview

Our room draw tool aims to improve the experience around Olin’s room draw process. Students should be able to effectively communicate their intentions around room draw and understand the intentions of other students with less latency than if they were using physical pin boards.

Your Situation

You’re a student at Olin College in the midst of the room draw process. It’s mid April and just yesterday roommate pairs were announced and groups by rank. At this time last year, the foam core pin boards where roommate pairs would express their desire for a certain room would have been set up on the Dining Hall Mezzanine, but this year, StAR has opted to use a new electronic room draw communication tool.

At this point in the room draw process, roommates pairs have already been locked in. You, Sophia Seitz, know that you will rooming with Tenzin Choetso, and are currently planning on living in an East Hall double. You and Tenzin would like to live in a quiet hallway with fairly minimal partying.

Your goal is to understand the culture developing in the dorm and express your intent to live in a certain room which meets your criteria.

Login

You will first be presented with a login page. You may use the following credentials.
Username: sophiaseitz
Password: testing

Things we know are broken
  • There are the same people living on every floor of East Hall
  • We have not created a map of West Hall yet, so when you click on any of the west hall buttons, we display the East Hall data.
  • You can, as a double, select to live in a suite.
  • “Compare Tags” button which would have allowed you to compare tags with other roommate pairs currently does not function.
  • The Home button also currently does nothing. This would take you to the current location of your pin.
  • The prototype cannot handle two users contesting the same room.

Design Refinement

What is your design? How does it work?

Login Page:

The login page for our prototype

When users first open our webapp, they will encounter a login screen. On this page, they can create a username and password for themselves and then log in to our app. For example, a user could use the combination sseitz and sophiaspassword. After inputting this information and pressing the login button, users will be taken to the landing screen.

Landing Screen:

The landing screen is a view that contains a map of one floor of a dorm. The floor that is displayed is chosen with the following logic: if a user has placed a pin in a room, that floor of the dorm is displayed. If the user is a rising senior or junior, then the first floor of East Hall is displayed. Otherwise, if the user is a rising sophomore, the first floor of West Hall is displayed. Additionally, there is a banner on the top of the screen that allows users to switch between floors and dorms or logout of the webapp. When a user clicks on one of the floors, the map will transition to that floor, and this particular floor will be highlighted on the banner. At the start, whichever floor the user is on will be highlighted.

The landing screen of our webapp. Note that in this particular landing screen the user has already ranked some tags. This would not be the case for a new user who is logging on for the first time. Additionally, if a user logs on for the first time, rooms would appear blank.

Along with the map of one floor of a dorm, there is also a “card” that displays user culture information, settings, and notifications. The tab currently selected is the user culture information tab. This tab contains the users and roommates name, currently selected room, and tags that they have interacted with. If users have not interacted with any tags, then the tags section will be blank, and they will only be able to see a search bar that has the words “search or add tag”. If they have interacted with tags, then this search bar will appear as well as the tags that they have ranked. In this case, the tags will be arranged from “need” to “can’t stand”, and a user will scroll the card.

From this view, the user has a few possible actions, they can search or add tags, explore the dorms, view notifications, or view/change settings.

Add/Search Tags

Here, a user can search for a tag in the search box. If they find the tag, they can click on the tag to add it to their list of tags that they’ve ranked. If there are no tags that match the user’s description, they have the option of adding that tag to the master list of tags users can interact with.

A user searching for tags.

When a user clicks on the search box, before they type anything, the search box will suggest that tags that that a user has not interacted with. These will be the five most popular tags that a user has not interacted with. This is shown below:

Displaying the five most popular tags.

Once a user selects a tag, it should appear at the top of their tags list until they rank it. Currently, however, in our prototype, newly added tags appear at the bottom of the tags list. Users can rank tags by dragging the indicator from need to have to need to avoid.

Now, a user has added a tag.

Any time a user changes their ranking on an existing tag or ranks a new tag, the heat map will update to reflect the current net agreement/disagreement score for each visible room.

Settings

A user can also click on the settings tab on the card beside the map of the dorms. From this tab, users can choose which events they would like to get email notifications for (for example, when someone else has placed their pin in a room that is currently selected by the current user or when there is a new member in the user’s hallway). In this page, a user can also input the methods by which they would prefer to be contacted, like slac, email, text for example, and rank their prefered methods of communications. This is currently unimplemented, but below is a picture of wireframes depicting what we plan to have in the settings tab:

The wireframe of the settings tab. We are planning to implement this in our prototype.
Notifications

A user can also click on the notifications tab at the top of the card to view their current notifications. This screen will look something like the facebook notification dropdown, and will just take up room in the card.

The wireframe of the notifications tab. Our current notifications tab in our prototype does not reflect this wireframe and we are planning on updating it.
Switching Floors

Users can browse through different dorm floors using the menu bar at the top of the screen. Clicking on a particular floor on the bar will display the map of that floor and the floor name will be bolded.

Users can navigate to different floors. Note that in our prototype, many people live on all the floors. This would clearly not be true of the final product.
Hover

When a user hovers over a room where a pin has been placed, a small pop-up appears telling the user who placed their pin in that room as well as their group number in the room draw.

The hover “popup”
Compare

The comparison tool is designed for comparing culture against individual rooms. When a user clicks on a room, there is a button in the lower left hand corner of the preview card which allows users to compare the user’s tag preferences to those of another room or suite. To show this, colored indicators are overlaid on the tag sliders to represent the preference of the room or suite being inspected. This is currently not functional in our prototype, but we will implement this in the near future.

Users will also be able to compare their tag ratings with other uses to get a more in-depth view of how they compare with others.
Selecting room

When a user clicks on a room, there is a button in the lower right hand corner which allows users to select that room. To ensure that users do not accidently select a room, users have to select the symbol again. After doing so, the user’s name will appear along with the students who have also selected that room. Those students will receive a notification that someone else is also interested in that room.

The card that appears when users click on a room to get more information
Contact Information

When a user clicks on a room, there is a “conversation button” which allows the user to connect to the students who have place their pins on that room. If the preferred method of connecting to them has not been indicated in the settings, the user will be directed to email them to their olin email accounts. We have chosen to not to reinvent the wheel as it comes to communication by building an in-app communication tool; Olin has so many ways of communication, and adding another method would likely not be utilized. This, however, is an area that we are presently not sure about, and are investigating other options for in-app communication.

Displaying users’ contact information.
What changed?

Our current prototype has largely stayed true to our paper version, except in three respects. The first being our mechanism for finding, and creating tags. In our paper prototype all tags are displayed and you scroll down the sidebar to find the appropriate tags. To add a tag there was a small section at the bottom of the list that allowed users to input a tag name and add it to their list. This system seemed rather unwieldy, requiring a lot of scrolling and increasing the activation energy for adding new tags. We redesigned this, in the new system we have a search bar at the top of the tags list. This search bar allows users to always easily find a tag using a fuzzy search algorithm, and if their tag isn’t currently in the system it prompts them to add it. This dramatically decreases the time to find a tag, and to add a tag all while decreasing the number of duplicate tags. The second major change was to add a visual marker to each room for the number of pins currently placed in it. This makes taken rooms even more visually distinct and demonstrates conflicts. Lastly, We also changed the way in which users create accounts. In the paper prototypes we had users use their OlinApp credentials to login, in the current prototype we use a local strategy OAuth. This was mostly for ease of prototyping, and may change back.

What (if any) key insights did you gain during this phase?

Our biggest insight this phase was how important the use of color is in design, and how difficult it is to find a good color scheme. We had always assumed that it would be relatively easy to find a color scheme that worked for us. Afterall, color, and the use of color, is not something we typically notice when we see a beautifully designed website. This was very much not the case for us, as color has been a large point of contention during this phase. It has been especially difficult to figure out an intuitive coloring scheme for the rooms in the dorm, where we need one color scale to represent low to high tag agreement, a color for the user’s pin, and a color for rooms that are not occupied, and all of these colors should be distinguishable and instantly understandable, even by people who are color blind. This made choosing a color scheme very difficult, and neither we nor our evaluators are entirely pleased with our current solution.

Another insight that we had this phase is that icons are difficult to do well. While icons often look nicer than just having buttons with text that describe the function of the button, it is difficult to create an image that describes the function of the button as well as text would. Many of the icons that we understand the function of intuitively are only that way because we have been using those icons for so long that the meaning has become ingrained. For example, the functions of our compare tags and contact information buttons were confusing to our heuristic evaluators.

A screenshot of the contact information (right) and compare tags button (left) that caused confusion.

Although these buttons do have mouseover text, their function is not immediately clear, and we plan to investigate changing the icon for both of these buttons so that their function is more immediately clear.

What questions do you have now about your project?

There was a general confusion about what colors to use for our tool and what they should represent. We are still exploring what color combination to use to show that a room has a high agreement or low agreement. A screenshot of our current color scheme can be seen below:

A screenshot of our current map color scheme. Much can be improved.

We used yellow or “gold” to show that a room has been selected. We felt this is a color that could be immediately noticed since it is considerably lighter than blue and orange that we have used for our high and low agreement respectively. However, yellow and orange looking similar could make users think that the users are in low agreement with themselves when they have chosen a room. We are also debating how to indicate empty rooms. They are currently not colored, since no one has added tags for those rooms yet. We had considered using grey to indicate empty rooms but we felt that it may also make the user think that those rooms are interactable.

We have, as a team, also struggled as to what role our app will play in generating conversations around the room draw process. Just by existing and exposing a new dimension of room draw, people will have more to talk about and be more likely to communicate with each other. But, is this this enough? Whether or not to add an in app communication tool has been a point of contention on the team. Between email, slack, trello, messenger, groupme, texting, hangouts, and calling, Oliners already have a ridiculous number of vectors for communication. It is already a struggle trying to keep on top of all of these, we worry that we will just be adding more headache. Is there a way to encourage people to have genuine and productive conversations around their rooming intentions without forcing students to take more advil? This question clearly needs more exploration by the team.

Our current prototype lacks two major features that has not been implemented yet. We now have a compare tags button in the preview card but have not implemented the ability to compare tags yet. Our current prototype also does not allow multiple people to contest for the same room. A user cannot place pin on a room where someone else has already placed their pin.

Final Refinement




Defining the Problem and User Space

What does it mean for something to be “Olin-esque?” If one were to ask Oliners, one would hear many different answers to this question. Some students will quote the Honor Code while others cite their experiences in class, but consistently, the Olin community values cooperation, communication, and respect for others.

Every year, our current process for assigning students to dorm rooms invites students to abandon one or more of these values. We call this process Room Draw. In such a close knit community, students care deeply about who they will be rooming with and near. Students look forward to planning suites and hallways with their friends around a certain culture or theme, and they get emotionally attached to plans and potential futures. This high stress situation makes communicating intentions absolutely critical.

Our project aims to encourage collaboration by informing early communication in the room draw process. Through more informed communication, students can better understand each other’s intentions and resolve potential conflicts in a respectful and thoughtful way.

In our initial investigations of the room draw process, we identified three different stages in the room draw process: people deciding who they want to room with within a suite or double, people deciding who they are living with, and finally the stage where everything becomes official, and student life is in charge of placing remaining stragglers. A diagram of these stages can be seen below:

Of these three stages, we focused on the second stage -- where students decide where they are living. In this stage, students generally know who their room/suitemates are, but have not finalized a dorm, hallway, or room. In this stage, it is important to have lower-latency, open, and informed communication. Additionally, it is important to have conversations about culture during this time. With our tool, we wanted to address the need for good communication, focusing specifically on providing low-latency information about who is living where and enabling informed conversations about culture.

Because Olin’s room draw process is so unique and our student body so small, we designed this product exclusively for Olin students who participate in the room draw process. With the goal of understanding how the room draw process could be improved, we conducted conversations with the student body. In our conversations around the room draw process, we have found that there are four distinct personas, or personalities that are present during the room draw process.

Hallway Organizer (Ruth)

These students are in charge of a group of either suites or doubles. They take on responsibility for organizing and placing groups of students.

During the room draw process, the responsibility to create the perfect hallway culture weighs heavily on hallway organizers. Sometimes an entire hallway relies on their logistical talents. They not only have to keep tabs on what other hallway organizers are doing, but also other independent Oliners who might have a higher rank than any member of the group they are organizing. An organizers entire plan can be derailed with one unanticipated pin placement.

For example, Ruth is a rising senior. Last year, she and a group of her friends were organizing a group of doubles that wanted to live in an East or West hallway across from a suite in East Hall. She was not the one organizing this group, though. The night before double lock in, someone dropped a pin in the middle of their hallway, and the hallway organizer did not notice in time. This cascaded, and unfortunately, Ruth’s hallway was not able to regroup in time, and wound up living all across East Hall.

This year, Ruth is taking matters into her own hands, and is planning on organizing a party hallway. She knows which suites want to live in this hallway, but is very concerned with finding a double that will be enthusiastic about participating in the hallway culture.

Hallway Member (Shep)

These are students that are a part of a larger hallway organization -- a group of friends all planning on living together. These students usually live where their hallway organizer tells them to.

During the room draw process, hallway members are relatively relaxed -- they know that they’ll be living in a hallway with their friends, with the culture that they want. Although they do care about living with their friends, they also know that someone else is responsible for organizing the group.

Shep, an example of a hallway member, is a rising Junior. He plans on living in a double in an East or West hallway of East Hall. Since he isn’t the one in charge of organizing the group, he does not really care what happens -- he just wants to live with his friends. He’s happy to leave the organization to someone else. As a result, Shep does care where he lives, but would not really be engaged with the room draw process because he has someone else who engages on his behalf. The only time Shep might become engaged is if/when his hallway group falls apart and he has to find a place to live without his group.

Indifferent Roommates (Dylan)

These people are not engaged in the room draw process at all. They do not care who they are living with and where they are living. They are not a part of a group that wants to live together.

During the room draw process, indifferent roommates go with the flow. They may never lock in a roommate or go through the normal room draw process. As long as they wind up with a room before the semester starts, they are not concerned.

For example, Dylan is not at all engaged with the room draw process. His motto is something like “I don’t care -- I just need a room and I’ll be happy”. He’s not likely to engage in the process at all, and will likely just take an empty room somewhere in the dorms.

Passionate Independent (Nancy)

These students do care very much about where they are living or the culture of their hallway, but are not a part of a group.

These students may have been kicked out of a hallway group or suite due to size constraints or care strongly about some outside factor. This factors include, but aren’t limited to, proximity to first years, sound, alcohol culture, natural lighting, proximity to friends, distance from enemies, ceiling height, and floor level.

An example of a passionate independent is Nancy. She is a rising sophomore who has never participated in room draw. This year she happens to be living in a hallway far away from all of her friends. Although she had no say in this, she wants to make sure that next year is different. Although she has not committed to living with a group of people, she would like to live in a hallway with at least some of her friends.

Product Requirements

As a result of our conversations with users and the development of our personas, we discovered the following requirements:

Expressing Intent

Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors should be able to use the tool to indicate where they would like to room and gauge other students’ preferences for doubles or suites in East Hall or West Hall.

Cultural Expression

We found that hallway culture is one of the most important parameters people use to select where they are living. Our more engaged personas are all highly concerned about their hallway culture. As a result, our solution should allow people to view and submit preferences in hallway culture. Indicating hallway culture will allow users to view and communicate their lifestyle.

Better Communication

We want to enable an open conversation about hallway culture. While in a group, conversations about hallway culture might happen offline and might be decided by the time room draw officially happens, Nancy and other passionate independents living together might not have as clear and cohesive an idea of the hallway culture that they want. We also need to enable and store these conversations in a centralized place, so that prospective members of a hallway can engage in chats to gauge if a particular hallway is for them.

Product Robustness

Users must be free to choose whether to engage in any portion of the room draw tool. We cannot alienate Dylan and the disengaged room draw participants or other people who do not feel comfortable stating information. That said, it is important that the entire room draw planning tool is not disrupted by a few users choosing to not engage with every feature of the tool.

Design Directions

From these prototype requirements and our understanding of the needs of our users, we identified the following design directions:

Providing information about the big picture of who is living where

The first direction we identified focuses on giving people as much information about who is living where as possible. One possible design interaction can be seen below.

In this design direction, we aimed to capture the idea that being able to visualize room draw on the dorm-level as opposed to a floor or hallway level would provide added value. Here, we wanted users to be able to not only be able to see how multiple floors are shaping up, but also be able to see easily who is living above or below them. Afterall, loud upstairs neighbors might be more annoying than loud neighbors across the hall. One possible interface we briefly investigated for this design direction is the “bubble map” visualization.

Although this is not a complete map of a dorm, this interface would allow a user interested in living in the West hallway on the 2nd floor to easily see who is planning on living in their chosen hallway, as well as the other hallways on their floor and the hallways above or below their second hallway.

We did not move further than initial sketches of possible interfaces with this design direction because although presenting information in a different way is an intriguing idea, there is little added value. In the current room draw process, people can access this information already. We are just reshuffling the information that already exists to display it in a different way. Although a tool that makes seeing the big picture of who is living where might be useful for someone like Ruth the Hallway Organizer (see personas from last phase) Nancy the Passionate Independent might not like this tool as much. Although she likes the idea of being able to see who is around her, she also cares a lot about the culture of the hallway she lives in, and this tool puts culture in the back seat in preference of visualizing data. Additionally, big picture information is not useful to people like Shep or Dylan who are not very engaged in this part of the room draw process, and the additional time spent navigating through the big picture information to select a room would frustrate them.

Facilitating communication about who wants to live where

Another of our design directions is facilitating communication around who wants to live where. A tool in this design direction would focus on making it easy to have conversations between people interested in living in/on the same floor, hallway, or room. Since our goal was to improve communication around the room draw process, this is perhaps the most obvious design direction, and the process for this particular direction is relatively simple.

As can be seen in the brief process diagram above, the process in a case centered around communication might involve navigating through a map of the different floors of a particular dorm, selecting a room that the user is interested in living in. If others are also interested in living in the same room, then users engage in a conversation about who gets the room, which will eventually end with one person getting the room and others having to find new rooms. Once a person has selected a room, they would be automatically added to public chats with all the current members of the hallway that other prospective members of the hallway could see. One possible implementation of this can be seen below:

We did not choose to pursue this design direction because we felt that it was too straightforward. There was an easily implementable solution, but we felt that this direction was not particularly innovative -- this would have been simply a digital representation of the current pin board process Olin has. For the purposes of this class, we felt that we could learn much more pursing our third design direction. Additionally, a system built around communication does not work for people like our Shep and Dylan personas who are not interested in communicating at all. This type of design would be frustrating for people trying to communicate with the Sheps and Dylans of room draw, and doesn’t necessarily add any value for a Nancy or Ruth who is trying to determine if she or someone else will be a good cultural fit or see how other hallway groups are behaving.

Making sure people are aware of the culture of their living area

Our third design direction, and the one we chose to pursue, is focused on surfacing cultural information. In this design direction we are trying to add value by making information about culture that is not easily accessible in the current room draw process easily available to users. As a result, we felt that in choosing this design direction there was the most potential for adding value to the room draw experience. Unlike the two previous design directions that benefitted users mostly by using an online tool to lower latency, this direction actually allows us to add value to the room draw experience, giving people more information than they had before, not just presenting the information in a different format.

Surfacing Hallway Culture

To surface information about culture, we considered a few different methods. One of these included a culture-based survey at the beginning of our app. Although this would have allowed users to input their cultural information, this would have created a high barrier to entry, forcing users to finish inputting all of their culture preferences before they were able to benefit from having added that information. This directly violated one of our requirements for our tool: that is it was possible to not interact with the tool.

As a result, we decided to go with the idea that users could interact with culture “tags” whenever they want. Although we landed on the idea of culture “tags” relatively early in the design process the the design interaction changed quite a bit from the early iterations.

At first, we wanted users to sort tags around whether they felt positively or negatively around a certain tag. The paper prototype of an interface for doing this can be seen below:

In this case, users would have to say that they feel positively about certain tags and negatively about others. In user testing, there was quite a bit of confusion about what what it meant to tag something as negative or positive. For example, does it mean the same thing to feel negatively about parties and to feel negatively about tea? For the purposes of room draw, is one more important? In the end, we decided on the more dimensional approach to ranking tags that lets users rank tags all the way from they can’t live near someone who supports this tag to they need to live near people who support this tag. This cleared up the confusion caused by having people sort tags into just two categories.

Another interaction that we spend a lot of time considering is how to visualize what tags a double or suite has in common and one that they disagree on. Our initial way to visualize this was to just show users how others had organized their tags into two grouped and provide some sort of heatmap that reflected net agreement. Pictures of these can be seen below:

In this implementation, although users can infer conflicts by knowing how they sorted the tags, and can get a net agreement score, there is no way for users to easily see which tags they agree on. Since being a cultural match is so important for people at Olin, we need to make it easy to see which culture tags are conflicting and which match in a particular situation, especially for tags that especially important to our users. As a result, a design that requires users to infer conflicts and agreements will not meet our users needs. To do this, we decided on allowing users to compare rankings on tags with another user as well as seeing average tag agreement on the dorm heatmap. A picture of the current interface for this can be seen below:

To test our design, we built a prototype of our tool. Detailed documentation on the prototype can be found below. Our prototype can be found at http://derecho.herokuapp.com/

The Prototype
Login Page
The login page for our prototype

When users first open our webapp, they will encounter a login screen. On this page, they can create a username and password for themselves and then log in to our app. For example, a user could use the username/password combination sophiaseitz and testing. After inputting this information and pressing the login button, users will be taken to the landing screen.

Landing Screen

The landing screen is a view that contains a map of one floor of a dorm. The floor that is displayed is chosen with the following logic: if a user has placed a pin in a room, that floor of the dorm is displayed. If the user is a rising senior or junior, then the first floor of East Hall is displayed. Otherwise, if the user is a rising sophomore, the first floor of West Hall is displayed. Additionally, there is a banner on the top of the screen that allows users to switch between floors and dorms or logout of the webapp. When a user clicks on one of the floors, the map will transition to that floor, and this particular floor will be highlighted on the banner. At the start, whichever floor the user is on will be highlighted.

The landing screen of our webapp. Note that in this particular landing screen the user has already ranked some tags. This would not be the case for a new user who is logging on for the first time. Additionally, if a user logs on for the first time, rooms would appear blank.

Along with the map of one floor of a dorm, there is also a “card” that displays user culture information, settings, and notifications. The tab currently selected is the user culture information tab. This tab contains the users and roommates name, currently selected room, and tags that they have interacted with. If users have not interacted with any tags, then the tags section will be blank, and they will only be able to see a search bar that has the words “search or add tag”. If they have interacted with tags, then this search bar will appear as well as the tags that they have ranked. In this case, the tags will be arranged from “need” to “can’t stand”, and a user will scroll the card.

From this view, the user has a few possible actions, they can search or add tags, explore the dorms, view notifications, or view/change settings.

Add/Search Tags

Here, a user can search for a tag in the search box. If they find the tag, they can click on the tag to add it to their list of tags that they’ve ranked. If there are no tags that match the user’s description, they have the option of adding that tag to the master list of tags users can interact with.

A user searching for tags.

When a user clicks on the search box, before they type anything, the search box will suggest that tags that that a user has not interacted with. These will be the five most popular tags that a user has not interacted with. This is shown below:

Displaying the five most popular tags.

Once a user selects a tag, it should appear at the top of their tags list until they rank it. Currently, however, in our prototype, newly added tags appear at the bottom of the tags list. Users can rank tags by dragging the indicator from need to have to need to avoid.

Now, a user has added a tag.

Any time a user changes their ranking on an existing tag or ranks a new tag, the heat map will update to reflect the current net agreement/disagreement score for each visible room.

Settings

A user can also click on the settings tab on the card beside the map of the dorms. From this tab, users can choose which events they would like to get email notifications for (for example, when someone else has placed their pin in a room that is currently selected by the current user or when there is a new member in the user’s hallway). In this page, a user can also input the methods by which they would prefer to be contacted, like slac, email, text for example, and rank their prefered methods of communications. This is currently unimplemented, but below is a picture of wireframes depicting what we plan to have in the settings tab:

The wireframe of the settings tab. We would implement in the future
Notifications

A user can also click on the notifications tab at the top of the card to view their current notifications. This screen looks something like the facebook notification dropdown, and displays system notifications to the user. These notifications are added whenever an important change occurs in their hallway or whenever a different user places a pin their room.

The wireframe of the notifications tab with a few example notifications
Switch Floors

Users can browse through different dorm floors using the menu bar at the top of the screen. Clicking on a particular floor on the bar will display the map of that floor and the floor name will be bolded.

Users can navigate to different floors. Note that in our prototype, many people live on all the floors. This would clearly not be true of the final product.
Hover

When a user hovers over a room where a pin has been placed, a small pop-up appears telling the user who placed their pin in that room.

The hover “popup”
Compare

The comparison tool is designed for comparing culture against individual rooms. When a user clicks on a room, there is a button in the top right corner of the preview card which allows users to compare the user’s tag preferences to those of another room or suite. To show this, gray indicators are overlaid on the tag sliders to represent the preference of the room or suite being inspected.

Users will also be able to compare their tag ratings with other uses to get a more in-depth view of how they compare with others.
Selecting room

When a user clicks on a room, there is a button in the preview card which allows users to select that room. To ensure that users do not accidently select a room, users have to then select a confirmation button. After doing so, the user’s name will appear along with the students who have also selected that room. Those students will receive a notification that someone else is also interested in that room.

The card that appears when users click on a room to get more information
Contact Information

When a user clicks on a room, there is a “contact information button” which allows the user to connect to the students who have place their pins on that room. If the preferred method of connecting to them has not been indicated in the settings, the user will be directed to email them to their olin email accounts. We have chosen to not to reinvent the wheel as it comes to communication by building an in-app communication tool; Olin has so many ways of communication, and adding another method would likely not be utilized. This, however, is an area that we are presently not sure about, and are investigating other options for in-app communication.

Displaying users’ contact information
Refining the prototype
Making sure the prototype is easy to use

After building the prototype, we solicited “expert” feedback in the form of a Heuristic evaluation. This feedback took the form of identifying where our prototype violated design principles. Our feedback consisted of five major themes: consistency in the app, the use of color, unclear icons, flow and missing functionality. We feel that we have addressed most of these issues and, if time permitted, would continue to work on the ones we have not addressed.

User Interface Consistency

To address the issue that various components of our app were not consistent in their appearance, the visual aesthetic of the app has had a complete overhaul. The goal of this was to make the app more attractive and clear. We now use standardized icons from google’s material icons, these we have found are much more familiar to our users than our previous home drawn icons.

Color

In our first prototype, we had not used color as intentionally as we could have, and our color scheme was not intuitive. In our first prototype, we used the same colors to represent different functionality that was not related. This was feedback that we were particularly interested in investigating, as members of the team were curious about how color can be used well to provide information. In our final prototype, we have greatly reduced the use of unnecessary color, using color only to indicate agreement or disagreement in cultural preferences and to show that a room has been pinned.

Unclear Icons

Additionally, it became clear through heuristic evaluation that we did not have the most clear icons. This is still a work in progress, and we have not finished designing icons that are as clear as they could be. This work, however, would be finished before releasing the prototype to the Olin student population. For example, previously, the contact information and compare tags buttons were not clear.

Although we believe that this change in buttons represents an improvement over the previous compare tags button, we are still not entirely satisfied with this button.
Here, we are satisfied with the new button and believe that the change from the old contact information button to the new contact information button makes the prototype easier to use.

After changing these icons, we have a better contact information icon, but we still need to add a better comparison icon.

Flow

Another issue identified as a result of expert evaluation was that there were some flow issues in our app. For example, in our first prototype, it was not always easy to “back out” of an unintended interaction. We have since corrected this in our current prototype. In future revisions, we would also focus on identifying other flow-related issues, and correcting them. There is still some work to be done in this regard.

Missing Functionality

Additionally, our prototype is not fully functional yet. We are still working on thinking through the tag compare interaction, and making that as intuitive as possible. Additionally, we have not finished adding support for West Hall yet, but that would be implemented before this tool moved past the prototype stage. After making or continuing to make these changes described above, we are confident that this tool will allow Olin students to have more informed communications around hallway culture during the room draw process.

How does it address our user’s needs?

We believe that our tool will greatly benefit the student body by enabling more informed communication around hallway culture. Additionally, we are confident that we have designed the tool to be as flexible as possible, so that each of our personas can and will interact with it. Below are stories of how each of our four personas will use the tool:

Ruth (Hallway Organizer)

Since Ruth has the stressful job of coordinating most of the “Two North” suites in East hall, the tool will be useful to her in allowing her to check whether there are any other suites not belonging to her group also wants to live there, without constantly having to go back to the location where the pin board is placed. It will be less stressful for her knowing that she could easily and quickly check whether the hallway is still secure. She can also feel assured that the people in her group can quickly view her decisions in which suites she placed them in the “Two North” hallway and if multiple groups have issues with where they are living, she could make easily updates with the tool without having to run back and forth to the pinboard.

Another feature of this tool that will be beneficial to Ruth is the ability view culture of different suites with tags. Since she is organizing a party hallway, she needs to know that the doubles and other suites in the hallway would not be against partying. She can check quickly through the color map whether people interested in living in these rooms are compatible with the rest of her group and use the “compare tag” feature to specifically check their level of agreement on the party tag. If there is a suite or a double who stated that they dislike parties, she can view their preferred method of contact and inform them that she is planning to host parties in the hallway next semester so that they could either compromise or move their pin to a new location.

Shep (Hallway Member)

While it is unlikely that Shep will interact with the tags and as a result will not benefit from the dorm heatmap, he or his roommate will still use the tool to place their pin in the room he wants. He can also use our tool to easily check to make sure that his group has not moved, and adjust his pin if he should want to.

Dylan (Indifferent Roommates)

Dylan is least likely to among the personas to use the tool since he does not care who he is living with nor where he will live. That being said, we still believe that he will benefit from our tool. Since he wants to put as little effort into the room draw process, he will benefit because he no longer has to walk all the way from the Dining Hall Mezzanine to place a pin on an empty room -- he just has to log in to our too.

Nancy (Passionate Independent)

Since Nancy will like to live in a hallway with at least some of her friends, she will use the tool often to make sure that some of her friends will be living close to her and that none of them have switched their room preferences to another hallway. Since she is social and enjoys social gatherings, she will have indicated her tag preferences and used the color map and “compare tags” to ensure that the other members of the hallway share similar interests.