Moving is a pain. Not to mention stressful and tiring. Every year, thousands of university students flying home for the summer find themselves in a pinch, scrambling to find storage for their belongings.
In 2019, we developed a simpler way to store; a full-service storage solution along with a proprietary web app just for students.
The new Storagehotel online web platform allows for easy appointment bookings for students, a smooth checkout experience, online item management, and a more informed and easy to run management system for administrators.
We began looking at this problem by interviewing the different stakeholders. We identified 2 main groups of stakeholders: Current/Potential customers and Storagehotel Team Members. These stakeholders helped us better understand the problems with the current system. From these interviews and conversations, we crafted user personas with some key insights and pain points that would later help inform our ideation and design processes.
We had several major constraints we had to consider for our final solution. Some of these constraints included needing to make the entire process responsive for mobile users, a limited budget for development, and a limited amount of time for the project. To make the checkout and order management process more intuitive on this platform, we focused on the core needs for each user group:
Students want an easy booking and checkout process, and to be able to manage their appointments and stored items. They want to have peace of mind that their items are being handled properly and being stored securely.
Storagehotel staff want to make sure that bookings are scheduled properly, appointments go smoothly, and all items are checked and accounted for. They want to be able to track each item easily and stay up to date with any order or appointment changes.
Using an Affinity Diagram, we took each of our data recordings of user feedback and responses from the testing sessions and put them onto a board. From this, we grouped together the responses based on themes that emerged, putting together things that seemed similar then labelling the respective categories by issue and area of concern such as the design & layout, quality of information, and general comments about the interface.
This helped us identify key concerns, uncover issues and interaction strengths, as well as determine what to prioritize given our time and budget constraints. This was highly important when it came down to discussing feasibility concerns and the practicality of the project as a whole. From this, we could thoroughly understand the scope and constraint of the project, while outlining the “must-have’s” from the “nice-to-have’s”.
Through our research, we were able to uncover a couple of issues and pain points that were needed to be addressed, as well as some strengths of the current system that we should consider keeping or refining upon.
We spent a lot of time researching our targeted users before ideation began. It was important that the platform not only served these two, distinctly different user groups, but also made sure that the user experience was cohesive across each touchpoint.
While developing solutions for the each of the two stakeholder groups, some questions I had to work through during this process included:
After we had brainstormed potential solutions and analyzed pain points, I created a detailed site map outlining where each of the features would be developed. This allowed us to get a grasp of how the platform would work system-wide.
These flows provided clarity on where we should focus our efforts as a group, and the necessary steps we had to design for. This helped our group realize we had some discrepancies with the system-focused mapping of our platform above, and allowed us an opportunity to blend these two conceptual charts early. Additionally, these charts also allowed an opportunity to consider important non-visual aspects of the product, such as when confirmation and reminder emails would be sent out to customers.
Userflow 01 | Ordering Storage Services
Userflow 02 | Retrieving Items from Storage
Userflow 03 | Changing Appointments
Our group had the opportunity to test our prototypes throughout the project. These testing sessions included both students and Storagehotel admin, and allowed us to receive a lot of valuable feedback and insight. We were able to gain a lot of unique perspectives on the problem space through this, and overall learn more about how the product could be improved or better suit user needs.
Overall, users were able to navigate within the created space fairly easily and intuitively understood the checkout process flows and action items given to them. We found that there were some visual and aesthetic issues with a few of the icons or colours, and throughout development the mobile version had to be updated to match the interaction of the desktop version while retaining the same level of intuitivity and user experience. Through this testing, we were able to detect these issues early on and correct them.
Through a combination of user interviews, data analysis, user personas, and site maps/user flows, we were able to pinpoint key user pain points, needs, and areas of interest. Throughout the entire research and design process, we continuously reiterated based off user feedback and testing to ensure our product was as user-centered and feedback driven as possible.
Through this project I learned many things. Aside from new skills and lessons in UX/UI design, I also learned a lot about entrepreneurship, developer hand-off, and most importantly, project management and organization. With a tight schedule and limited resources, it was imperative that I completed this project as efficiently and effectively as possible. While there were many things I wished I had done differently, this experience taught me that I won’t always have the time, resources, or ability to develop something I want. That being said, I’m proud to have completed this project and cherish the memories made building out an amazing new product that will help many students every summer.