About the Project
Upkeep is a mobile app that allows students to report building or equipment issues on campus. This idea was originally just a research assignment I submitted for my Urban Planning class, exploring the efforts required to maintain infrastructure in urban settings. Upon presenting my findings, my classmates and professor were very receptive to this idea and encouraged me to keep pursuing it.
Using Western University as my setting, I designed a new desktop and mobile platform to help students report maintenance issues. In conjunction, a receiving platform for stakeholders to follow-up and resolve the issues reported.
UX/UI, Prototyping, Visual Design
Figma, Illustrator, and Flinto
Listening and engaging with students and campus facility stakeholders
Through casual and informal chats with 16 students and campus stakeholders, I aimed to gain better insight into whether students feel the shared-responsibility to maintain campus facilities, whether they were aware of the resources available to report issues, and how campus facility stakeholders effectively manage and resolve these issues in a timely matter.
I also conducted user testing on the existing campus work issue form to understand if users experience any problems or difficulties impeding them from completing the form.
User Interviews with Students
Do you notice when there are campus facility or equipment issues?
Why do you think you disregard apparent building and equipment issues?
Do you feel a sense of responsibility to report on issues to improve campus upkeep?
If you completed the existing form, do you think it would provide facilities with the best context?
Knowing this form exists, are you more inclined to submit facility or building issues in the future?
User Interviews with Facility Stakeholders
Could you walk me through your process to resolve a reported issue?
How are updates communicated to the individual who originally submitted the form?
Do you find the office receiving more issues through the phone or the online form?
User Interview Insights
1. The Bystander Effect
The able-bodied students I had interviewed were unlikely to either notice issues with campus facilities or take action when they did. In the presence of other people, this effect creates a diffusion of responsibility. When other observers fail to react, individuals often take this as a signal that a response is not needed or not appropriate.
2. The Feeling of Burden
Students with disabilities or injury overall were more likely to report issues with campus facilities and equipment. However, they also mentioned about moments where, in a difficult situation, they feel burdensome to those who help them and described the feeling as a loss of independence.
3. Communication Preferences
Campus stakeholders mentioned that a greater majority of issues are submitted through their direct phone line. Reviewers are likely to follow-up with online forms to clarify details and obtain the best understanding of the issue. It's also important to note that facility solutions cannot always happen overnight; some issues require the help of contractors or need new materials/parts to be ordered.
"Loss of control, stripped of independence, feeling burdensome, altogether, I wasn't inclined to attend class anymore or participate on campus."
- Student with disability
I chose to progress this design challenge by focusing on students with injuries and disabilities as my primary users, and students in general as my secondary users.
Creating primary and secondary user groups ensures that the experience I am designing is useful and relevant; it attempts to resolve the pain points while being available to service everyone.
How might we reframe the prompt to better understand the needs of our users and propel the sprint?
How might we design an experience that allows students to report on, follow the status of, and access real-time support for building or equipment issues on campus?
How might we...
report: make it easy for students to quickly inform the school of any building or equipment issues
follow-up: promptly confirm that a student's report has been received and enable them to check the status of their report
access support: make it easy for students to immediately contact a facility manager if their accessibility is urgent or compromised
through a facility management
How might we design an experience that allows facility managers to receive, manage, and review student issues with campus buildings or equipment?
How might we...
receive: prioritize the severity and notify facility managers of new reports submitted by students
manage: enable facility managers to efficiently browse, track, and assign tasks to other stakeholders on the received issues
review: provide a simple workflow for receivers to investigate different campus issues until completion
through a facility management
03 Ideation and Wireframes
Bringing my findings and insights together, I began mapping out the user flow for both students and facility stakeholders. I started by defining the actions needed to resolve an issue and was able to construct high-level user flow to align the experience for all users.
From here, I began exploring visual representations of the flow using wireframes. For students, I decided to design a mobile app because the portability of a mobile device allows users to document issues and draft reports on the spot.
Report: make it easy for students to quickly inform the school of any building or equipment issues
From the home screen, users can quickly draft a new report. The addition of department categories, location services, and photo uploads enables users to quickly provide specific information for reviewers. The form will generate better contextual resources to refer to alongside the short description describing how the incident has negatively impacted the reporter.
Follow-up: promptly confirm that a student's report has been received and enable them to check the status of their report
After the user submits the report they should receive a confirmation email including the JOBID # and a summary of their report. The unique JOBID allows them to check the status of their report online through the university's website and through the facilities app.
Access support: make it easy for students to immediately contact non-emergency support if their issue is urgent or compromised
Non-emergency support is also a quick-access feature on the home screen. Students with disabilities and injuries mentioned that it wasn't uncommon to find themselves stuck in a situation where they needed help. Their situation doesn't require the attention from 911, but allows them to immediately get in touch with someone on campus who can assist them.
Manage: enable facility managers to efficiently browse, track, and assign tasks to other stakeholders on the received issues
To manage these reports, I designed a dashboard that empowers facility stakeholders to browse, track, and assign tasks to resolve. I originally wireframed the dashboard in a data-table style but progressed with a mailbox-style after user testing both wireframes with my university's facilities representatives. They felt that the data-table was too clerical and lacked a human-connection to the individual behind each submission.
Receive: prioritize the severity and notify facility managers of new reports submitted by students
To keep stakeholders on track, the menu drawer categorizes requests by their completion status. The header of each report includes tags for quick and scannable information, a dropdown field to specify the priority level, and an assignee field and directory to progress the task to a subject matter expert.
Review: provide a simple workflow for receivers to investigate different campus issues until completion
The new dashboard creates a streamlined workflow that is not only intended to solve issues more efficiently but to also make it easier to keep all parties involved informed and updated throughout the process.
Viewing Past Tickets and Updates
Assigning Tasks to Subject Matter Experts
Assigning Tasks to Subject Matter Experts
A checkbox near the Send button that gives users the option to quickly and instantly send updates to other involved parties. In addition, a status tracker to give reviewers and SMEs an idea of how the issue is either escalating or progressing to completion.
Mark as Complete
There’s a definite opportunity here to expand how we can design experiences that centralize valuable campus resources to improve student morale and support university stakeholders outside of the classroom setting. If I had more time, I would continue working on a better understanding of how complex correspondences can become when multiple SMEs are needed to resolve an issue.
My focus building this app was to listen to and empathize with users to create a seriously valuable solution. This solution did not need to be something extremely innovative, but something to make a positive impact through problem-solving with design thinking.