Bern Dibner: Library Room Reservation Case Study
Bern Dibner, the library at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering recently hosted HackDibner, a design competition that challenged its participants to develop and present an idea that will improve user experience within the NYU library.
I was in a team with four other students and acted as the lead product designer, my tasks were to delegate and streamline the UX process as well as designing the prototype for the application.
One of the most popular services within Dibner is the individual and group study rooms that can be booked for use. The current reservation system operates through a third party software, SpringShare. In an initial survey we had conducted with a large sample of students that frequent the library, a majority cited the room reservation system as a pain point for their experience in the library.
To better understand the exact issues within the room reservation system, we followed up the brief survey with 15 user interviews, 12 with students and 3 with librarians. We organized the information so that we can really hone in on the specific difficulties that are associated with the existing platform to brainstorm potential solutions.
We did not go too in depth with creating user personas, though we did outline types of users and their goals and frustrations. We knew that while we would've love to add in new features to the system, we had to prioritize fixing the existing functionality, which is the main (and really only) purpose of the booking app. That was an issue that caused a minor riff within our team, but it was important to us to consider first and foremost our users and what they needed the app to do. It would also be much more feasible for the library to implement if the system was not overly complicated.
The biggest problems that surround the existing room reservation system were the lengthy and repetitive authentication process, its lack of an interface makes it difficult for students to alter or cancel their booking (which leads to unoccupied rooms and incorrect data collection for the library), and its inability to effectively allocate spaces within a group room, affecting the library's occupancy data.
To solve those problems, our team wanted to create a reservation platform that is able to include the information of the user and the room options in one easy to navigate interface. From conducting a market research into library room reservation systems then broadening it to general reservation platforms, we found out that SpringShare, being one of the oldest apps, has a monopoly within the library room reservation niche. Other key takeaways were that ease of use and customization are the top features that users look for in a booking system, but those with visually appealing layouts and real-time availability were more popular than ones that might've included more features.
On the left is the original reservation system and on the right is our redesign. Our key design decisions revolved around wanting to:
- Personalize and create a more streamlined authentication process
- Include the different room types as well as a record of the student's booked rooms
- Visually prioritize the available rooms and create a more natural scrolling rhythm
The current system doesn't store any user information, is poorly designed, difficult to navigate and creates an unpleasant experience for the students at NYU. Our final product, which we dubbed Dibs, provides a much clearer navigation and accounts for the library's want to make data driven decisions by integrating personalized features as well as consolidating the interface to ease the reservation flow for students.
Our proposed solution ended up winning first place in the Hack Dibner competition, scoring a 94.6 out of the possible 100 points!
We are currently working with NYU librarians and its IT team to hopefully make the application a reality and implement it within the Bern Dibner library. We hope to design a comprehensive admin dashboard for the library staff and of course do more user testing on the current UI!