Inspiration for CORE Reserve

We were inspired to create CORE Reserve, when we realized that many places, including Columbia Libraries, have begun to open their doors with restrictions after being closed for nearly 10 months due to the versatile nature of COVID-19.

We originally wanted to create an app that helped users know the restrictions of locations before they go: details like space capacity, mask regulations, seat/table availability, etc. We conducted a survey and found that over 75% of people had or could have demand for an app like this.

At the same time, we found Columbia Library's Seat Reservation System, which does...well, exactly what it says it does. But, we found the site to be not very intuitive and especially lacking in the visualization of seats. So, we decided to re-imagine the system with our very own CORE Reserve!

What does CORE Reserve do?

CORE Reserve is an app made specifically for Columbia & Barnard students to use when booking study seats or areas at the libraries on campus. There are many features that you would find on a typical scheduling app, but there are 3 main features that we focused on:

• Seat Visualization: On the current system, there are only text indicators for picking which seat you would like to reserve. However, for freshman and others who haven’t been on campus in a while, it can be hard to figure out where seats are, especially in the huge libraries Columbia has to offer! So, we decided to add a map search and floor visualization so users can see where they’re going and where they would like to study before picking making their reservation.

• Requesting Study Materials: One of the rules of Columbia’s Libraries is that, for the safety of everyone, patrons are not allowed to browse for books. If they would like any books, they must request for them online before hand. Keeping this in mind, we added a feature that allows users to request study materials and books to add to their seat reservation so they can get the things they need to study while at the library for their reservation itself

• Adding Friends/Creating Study Groups: Eventually, when CDC guidelines begin to relax, students can use our app to reserve tables and coordinate reservations and schedules so they can meet with peers at a library of their choice for study sessions!

How we built it

We used Figma to design and prototype CORE Reserve. Throughout this hackathon, we went through a mini design sprint of first collecting data through a short Google Form, then we sketched out ideas on paper. From there we created low-fidelity prototypes to finalize user flows before adding some visual design to turn them into high-fidelity screens.

Challenges we ran into

Because of the fast-paced nature of hackathons, pacing ourselves and being able to delegate our time wisely, so we didn't have to shortcut any aspect of the design process was a challenge we ran into. How much time was spent on lo-fi frames verses how much time we spent researching and conducting user research was a balance we needed to find. We consciously paid attention to how often we were checking in with each other and pushed for more holistic assessments of our project, so we could get a better gauge on our progress. Furthermore, we split the project into different sections, to maximize the amount of work that we each could accomplish. To prevent miscommunication, our meetings really helped bring everyone onto the same page, as well as chart out the next plan of action.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Being able to go through a nearly complete design process from ideation to iterating over feedback, in the span of two days, is something that we are proud of. Through survey responses to questions regarding how COVID restrictions were affecting students, we saw that many responses were concerned with access to services like libraries and adhering to COVID guidelines. We are proud to have built an app that was based off the responses that people had.

Additionally, when considering different visual design choices, we used the inputs of peers and classmates to help guide the design decisions we made. Through user research, we were better able to gauge the areas that need improvement and the places where users needed a little more guidance.

What we learned

Through the process of creating this app, we all gained experience working on different aspects of the design process. From creating survey and conducting user research to story boarding different ideas and prototyping our app, we were able to our comfort and understanding of the different aspects of design. Additionally, through working together to create a uniform visual language for our app, we designed an app built by and for students, gathering input from other students as well. The process of iterating over the feedback we got was invaluable, and a lesson that we will always take into account.

What's next for CORE Reserve

We hope to continue to build out the social aspect of the app—the features where you can invite friends to join a study group with you. We would like to also work on the accessibility of our app, ensuring that all people are able to use the features available. By doing more research into accessibility, learning about how to design apps to allow screen readers to easily navigate the interface, and gathering feedback, we hope to continue to make our app more accessible.

After fully designing out the prototype, we also plan to potentially partner with Columbia Libraries to actually code out this app using Swift, Android Studio, or React Native since we wanted to focus on really designing out a concept for this app during this hackathon.

Built With

  • figma
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