- Reduced the online court booking process from 7 steps to 4 for non-members and from 7 steps to 3 for members.
- Eliminated confusion and redundancies.
- Designed a consistent experience for mobile and tablet mediums.
Inefficiencies, confusion, impacted revenues
Willoughby Squash Centre had been receiving many complaints from customers about their court booking system. Customers claimed the process was highly inefficient (far too many steps) and confusing.
They would often call the centre to book a court over the phone or worse, they wouldn’t book a court at all, having obvious impacts on the centre’s revenue.
I was engaged to redesign the court booking module. The new design needed to be intuitive, reduce the number of calls for manual bookings and thus facilitate an improvement in court booking revenue.
Understanding the customer
It’s always crucial to understand how a customer approaches a task first and foremost.
The first thing I did was set out to look at similar systems for different sports (e.g. booking a tennis court, booking a netball/basketball court etc) and learn more about how customers approach the same task elsewhere.
I quickly discovered that court booking systems in the sporting industry were designed with time being the most important factor over choice of specific courts (though some customers do insist on booking particular courts from time to time).
Based on this information (and my own experience from my tennis days) I sketched out a preliminary mental model as per Figure 1 below.
If there are no courts during the desired timeslot, it would be convenient to see other available courts around my desired timeslot or the next day at the same time.
Since we didn’t have a budget for user testing, I conducted guerrilla user testing by running this model via a couple of friends who book tennis courts from time to time.
The model proved to be an accurate representation of how they approached the task of booking a court and certainly the alternative suggestions would be useful if the desired timeslot came up trumps for lack of court availability.
Sketching a solution
Armed with a mental model that captured the default expectations of customers looking to book a court, I then started to translate this into a process with supporting sketches.
The new screen would be more streamlined and task focussed than the existing design. It was split into two sections.
- Search: captures the customer’s desired timeslot for a court. Form controls will be pre-filled with the current date and time.
- 3-day availability: for those customers wanting to see what’s available over the course of the next 3 days without having to search for individual timeslots.
Maximising efficiency and convenience were my guiding principles.
Figure 3 below illustrates the search results screen. Only courts that are available display in the search results. Users can then proceed to book their desired court.
For non-members, booking a court will require they enter their personal and credit card details before securing the booking. Members (once logged in) will simply enter an SMS code to secure a booking. A confirmation popover is subsequently displayed and an email sent with all the booking details.
It was also important to consider how this solution would work on mobile. The same design for desktop was tailored for mobile with the resulting screens in Figure 5.
The new design had certainly simplified the number steps and alleviated the confusion experienced from the old design. The process for non-members had been reduced from 7 steps to 4 and for members, reduced from 7 steps to 3.
Finally, the sketches were woven into an interactive, low-fidelity prototype in Balsamiq and presented to management at Willoughby Squash.
Further recommendations and suggestions
While designing the new court booking solution, a few additional ideas came to mind:
- Recurring bookings: the ability to support recurring bookings could be useful if a significant percentage of bookings were recurring on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. This could be easily validated by examining historical booking data.
- Support multiple court bookings in the one transaction: this suggestion would be worthwhile pursuing if booking data exposed a few consecutive bookings by the same customer for different courts at the same time (on a frequent basis). This could be useful for sports teachers who may want to organise weekly training sessions for their students.
- Design the entire site around the most common functionality: like its two predecessors above, this suggestion requires that site analytics be studied first. Depending on what users are doing the most (e.g. booking a court, purchasing items from the web store), these should be brought to the very front of the site with calls to action being very prominent. All other elements of the site that are not visited as much (e.g. about us) could be moved out of the prime real estate areas.
The proposed design and the suggestions above have been presented to management and subsequently given to system vendors for implementation.
I will provide feedback on alpha and beta iterations of the solution once ready to ensure the new user experience is on track to satisfy customers and ensure increased court bookings for management.
Toyota wanted to explore ways to create a more intelligent, consistent, tailor-made user experience for its customers across online and mobile channels. They wanted a fresh and bold digital vision based on new content management systems they were considering. They dared us to dream. And we did.