INF536 • Design Brief • Blog Task 3

Background

The Student Services Reception area in the college where I work is not exactly fit for purpose. If you take a look at the photos in my previous post you will see that this space is utilitarian in the sense that it functions as it should (most of the time) but its not a thing of beauty. Suffice to say it could do with a makeover.

 

Knowns (What we know)

  • This space can get very crowded
  • This space can get cold due to cold air entering when one or other of the glass doors is opened
  • No disabled access
  • Students need to go through this space to get to their classes
  • We are renting the building such that we can only make minor changes to the floorplan
  • Similarly, we cannot change the access and egress

 

Unknowns (What we don’t know)

  • Are there specific building regulations which we must comply with before, during and after the remodelling?
  • How many students need to see someone from Student Services on any given week day?
  • What do students and staff think of the current configuration?
  • To what extent will key stakeholders including students and staff be inconvenienced by having the floor remodelled?
  • Will these stakeholders be prepared to put up with this inconvenience?
  • Do we have the budget to do this? If we do have the budget, how much will it cost and how long will it take?
  • To what extent will other stakeholders cooperate (or otherwise) during the refurbishment?

 

Considerations

  • The campus is growing so we may need to move to another campus within the next few years
  • We are renting an old warehouse and cannot make any major changes to the design of the building without first consulting the owner of the property as well as local government

 

How might we redesign the Student Services Reception area so that…

  • it looks more inviting?
  • students are not held up when trying to get to class?
  • students with a physical disability are able to gain access?
  • the temperature is more moderate?
  • it functions more effectively?

 

Next steps (Ideation)

  • Observe flow of students in an effort to better understand patterns of use
  • Survey key stakeholders including students and staff in order to better understand their needs
  • Develop a structured competition (or design challenge) where rival teams are tasked with figuring out this problem

 

Ideas for redesign/implementation

  • Move the Student Services Reception area away from the stairs
  • Install a lift and suggestion box
  • Install a self service multimedia display so that students can get the information they need without having to speak to someone
  • Improve signage ie. display contact details including opening and closing hours as well as telephone number and email address
  • Play soothing music to help people to stay calm

 

References

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Harper Business

D.school, Stanford University, How might we?… Method Card: http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/HMW-METHODCARD.pdf Accessed August 17, 2014

The Design Council (2013). Design for public good. Retrieved from: http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/Design%20for%20Public%20Good.pdf

INF536 • Observation • Blog Task 2

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The view from the counter at Student Services Reception towards the glass doors

For my observation task I’ve decided to take a critical look at the Student Services Reception area in the college where I work. I visit this space a number of times over the course of each week day as I have to go through Reception to get to my workstation.

The student lifecycle is such that this space can sometimes be totally empty or overflowing with students. Early in the trimester there’s usually a lot going on and Reception is a hive of activity. Once the trimester is underway things quieten down a bit and Reception becomes much more manageable. Towards the end of the trimester after students have sat their exams Reception starts to get busy again with students coming in to talk to their lecturer about their results and/or view their exams. Anyhow, the problem is that Reception can and does get congested very quickly. Students come to Reception and wait their turn. However, other people need to go through Reception to get to some of the classrooms.

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The view from the counter at Student Services Reception towards the Student Lounge

Students come up or down the stairs then walk through the glass doors. As soon as they walk through the doors they are the Reception area. The layout is such that students have to go through Reception to get to their class. In other words, sometimes you’ll have students who are on their way somewhere else but who have to go through Reception to get there. At the same time you’ll have other students are standing in line waiting to see someone from Student Services. As well as that, sometimes you’ll have groups of students standing in or near Reception just chatting.

The end result of all of this is that the Reception area can sometimes be a bit of a bottleneck with students who are trying to go through getting a little frustrated. I don’t know if this situation is intentional or not on the part of the college but it seems to me that it detracts from the user experience in the sense that students who are simply trying to get to class are being inconvenienced due to the location of Student Services Reception.

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The view from just inside the glass doors to the counter at Student Services Reception

Across from Reception is the Student Lounge where students are encouraged to take the weight of their feet and relax between classes. From what I have seen this area is considerably underutilised by students. This space consists of a large wooden table and a number of chairs which are arranged around the table and along the wall. There are also a series of posters on the wall containing information about the modalities on offer including Nutritional Medicine, Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine.

The Reception area is little more than a large window in the wall with a computer just inside the window. Staff members from Student Services are rostered to sit in Reception and field queries from students when required. On either side of the window are stands that contain multiple copies of forms that students sometimes need to complete in order to vary their studies.

Having these forms on either side of the window is not necessarily a good idea since what invariably happens is that a student will come along and look through the stand not because they’re actually looking for something in particular but just because they’re there. In other words, the forms are a bit of a distraction since students see them then they come over to investigate.