Google User Experience Design Application
User journey mapping
User and market research
CAD modeling and rendering
"Your school wants to improve the upkeep of campus facilities by creating a new system for reporting any facilities that may need maintenance or repair. Design an experience that allows students to report building or equipment issues on campus. Consider the process of those filing the report and of those receiving and taking action on the issues."
Identifying the target users
Designing for the National University of Singapore(NUS)'s Offices of Facilities Management(OFM) will allow me to reach out to both students and the faculty that handles service requests.
Though these interactions, I want to understand the current system of facilities management and how its process is perceived by those who are affected by it. I will use this research to guide my design choices as I ease communication amongst these groups.
Students who notice issues with the facilities that they interact with and want them fixed
Faculty members who manages maintenance requests
Facilities Officers (OF) who investigate issues with campus facilities and perform routine maintenance
About the Offices of Facilities Management (OFM)
OFM consists of 6 different zones in which Facilities Officers are specifically assigned to. These zones consist of:
Mechanical & Plumbing
Housekeeping & Pest Control
Horticulture & Grounds
OFM also manages a 24-hour Maintenance Hotline and an email for non-emergencies that students can contact.
How are maintenance issues currently reported?
The 24-hour hotline is the quickest source of contact for students. Although there are different options to file maintenance requests to OFM, they are not as widely used.
Existing Interface 1: NUS Residential Life
For students who live in housing provided by the university (dorms/apartments)
Local students mostly opt to commute to school from home, so this app is unnecessary for them
After talking to students who live in university housing, this app is also not commonly used by them and is usually deleted within a few weeks of the semester
For maintenance help, students are redirected outside of the app to the 24-hour Hotline
There is a rating system for campus resources, but the amount of feedback is unknown
Most tabs on this app lead to external webpages or phone numbers
Existing Interface 2: NUS iFix
It appears that this app is meant for OFM faculty, but both students and faculty can log into it
The maintenance report process is very straightforward, although also limiting and rigid
When the request is sent, its status visible, but without any corresponding dates or timestamps
This app is not advertised on any public university pages, so it is not widely used and not a resource that many know about
User Interviews: Students
I conversed with 5 students who consist of locals from Singapore and International Exchange students.
I opted for individual interviews instead of conducting a survey in order to understand the wide range of interactions that students have with OFM.
Some of the feedback that I received:
"I don't feel inclined to report unless they're serious. I feel that if it's a problem that affects a lot of people, other people will report it."
"Campus facilities are generally well-maintained, but when things don't work, it's kind of inconvenient because
I don't know when they'll be fixed."
"I don't think they really do a thorough job. Sometimes when I enter the bathroom, there is water sprayed all over the floor because they assume that it will eventually evaporate. This is dangerous because it's easy to slip and fall on the tile, and it also gives off an unpleasant smell. I'm not sure who to contact for this, or if this concern actually matters."
A summary from these interviews:
Most students don't feel the need to report small inconveniences
Maintenance support isn't openly disclosed, many do not know what resources they can contact
The most common resource is the 24-hour Maintenance Hotline, but calling deters students from getting help - they would rather text, but are unsure if the request will be answered as quickly as calling
Many students are unaware of the different types of maintenance requests that OFM manages
User Interviews: OFM Faculty
I conversed with 4 OFM faculty members from different zones.
I talked to 2 Hotline Representatives who record maintenance information from callers. Some feedback that I received:
"The top 3 maintenance requests that we receive are about common areas (ex: student lounges, laundry room, etc.),
pests, and bathrooms."
"Many don't report small, repetitive problems that could eventually worsen. It is important for us to know this information so that we catch problems early. These small problems might have an underlying issue that may lead to larger concerns."
Afterwards, I talked to 2 Facilities Officers who came to investigate the maintenance issue:
"We receive the requestor's contact information, but it is sometimes difficult to fulfill requests when they are
not at the site."
"We usually do not follow up with requests after they have been fulfilled. If the problem persists, the requestor
will call the hotline again."
Overall, there is a communicative disconnect between students, hotline representatives, and facilities officers.
Making the maintenance request process easier to track and obtain information for will make its current process more efficient, as well as ensuring safety amongst the campus community.
User Journey Map
I mapped my interactions with OFM over three days with a pest control request in my university accommodation.
I used mind mapping to identify the different types of interactions that students have with OFM and ideate possible solutions for a more efficient interface. I also wanted to take safety risks into account.
Doing this helped me acknowledge what is both present and lacking in the current process, as well as incorporating the research I gained for a human-centered approach.
Based off of my research and ideation, my solution is a realtime communication platform between students and OFM faculty.
This will allow for more transparent discussion and updates to alert other students of maintenance issues that may put their safety at risk.
I was inspired by Amazon's timestamped package tracking updates and use of photos to update the user on the status of their delivery.
In Singapore, Grab is the most common car-hailing system. I was inspired by their in-app chat system, GrabChat, where drivers can communicate with customers before they have arrived at their pickup point by text message or phone calling.
Finally, I was inspired by my home university, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and their Illini-Alert text updates. Text updates ensures that safety information is notified on a large scale without relying on whether users have downloaded an app or not.
Wireframing + Screens
This design eliminates the need for the 24-hour hotline service, as maintenance requests can be sent directly to Facilities Officers. I used Figma to map out User Flows with medium fidelity wireframing.
Both students and OFM Faculty: Onboarding and Campus Notices
Log in with NUS accounts
Certain app appearances change depending on the user type (eg: Make Request for Students vs Daily Routine for OFM Faculty)
Campus Notices present live updates on the status of campus facilities/common areas
Left/right swipe for menu bar allows users to personalize notification settings, view and change contact information, and learn about what OFM has to offer
Students: Making Maintenance Requests
Top/Down swiping to scroll presents information on an organized page
In-app map location allows students to pinpoint direct locations
Especially helpful for new students who are unfamiliar with university buildings
Attachment of photos and videos allows for clearer presentation of information, especially if English is not a first language
Students can set up an appointment time or opt to have an issue investigated as soon as possible.
Students: Maintenance Request Status
See upcoming and past requests that are color-coded according to completion
When a Facilities Officer is appointed to a pending request, the student can message them through an in-app chat system
Once the request is completed, the student can review the outcome and provide feedback to OFM
After a request has been resolved, the student can no longer contact the specific Facilities Officer
OFM Faculty: Manage Maintenance Requests
Facilities Officers can keep track of upcoming requests with timestamps and past requests based on color-coded organization
They can choose to accept new requests based on their availability.
Once a request has been accepted, they can contact the student through in-app chat or phone call
Appointment times can be changed through the in-app chat function
Once a request has been checked as resolved, the Facilities Officer can provide feedback to OFM
Revisiting: Color Accessibility
In October, I revisited this project and focused especially on color contrast and text readability. This is especially important to accommodate those with visual impairments such as color blindness.
Some highlights that implemented based on the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines):
There are 2 standards: AAA and AA
For AA, the required contrast for text is 4.5, while large text and headlines is 3.
Large text is 14 point and bold or larger, or 18 point and larger.
For AAA, the required contrast for text is 7, while large text and headlines is 4.5.
Reflection and Future Steps
This project allowed me to explore and problem-solve in a new campus environment. I found it fulfilling to able to see the maintenance request process through new perspectives as a way to connect different groups of people.
I pursued this project through a research-heavy approach to guide my design choices. For a future exploration, I would like to flesh out the visual aspects of this interface more.
I'd like to conduct some A/B testing for my design to explore what is most effective for both students and OFM faculty.