Case Study: RoomManager
After six months redesigning every aspect of PosterDigital, a ten-year-old software to control digital signage screens, it was time to create a new product
Creating a plug-and-play service for offices improving the communication and management of meeting rooms attached to the calendar software already in use.
Contexts of Use
Someone with limited technical skills has to be able to set up the system on his or her first try: connect the screens and link the calendar solution they use with PosterDigital management software.
Someone in need of a meeting room is looking for one available.
Someone busy, who walks by about to attend a meeting, must find the useful information he or she is looking for and understand it in less than a minute:
- When does the meeting start?
- How long is it?
- Who set it up?
- What is it about?
- Will any other meeting take place afterwards?
Setting up the system had to be plug-and-play as the user in charge of it would ideally connect screens and calendars just once. Also, the user could be not technically proficient.
Design must be responsive because small digital signage screens come in different resolutions and ratios.
All the UI elements should work both in touch and no-touch screens as clients will buy their own screen solutions.
The underlying software solution was an adaptation of the existing PosterDigital management software for big screens–see the picture above–, not and ad hoc development.
The user’s attention must be divided among two screens at once. Binding the screens to the system had to be done directly on them, not from PosterDigital management software.
Connecting calendars happens on a new window, provided by the calendar service. It was important to catch back the user’s attention.
A single linking process design for calendar software solutions had to work with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.
Time: 3 weeks.
Meetings have several information elements attached to it: What time does it start? How long it is? What is it about? Who’s the organizer? Who are the attendees? Given the contexts of use stated before, I realised this was too much information to be read at a glance.
I decided to design an information hierarchy for three different reading distances–with their attention spans–.
I used a two color scheme to tell the availabity of the rooms. At a distance, without even being able to read properly, the user is able to know which room is free and which one is not. As this product had to be released for any kind of office setting, the colors were subtle and easy to integrate in any environment, but also different enough to be easily distinguished.
The user who gets closer to a–grey background–busy room is looking for a meeting he has to attend. The subject of the meeting is the first readable thing.
The user who gets closer to a–green background–available room is looking to occupy a free room for a meeting that just came up. The bigger piece of information after ‘Available’ is until what time is it available.
What time is it, the name of the room, who is organizing the meeting, etc. are shown in smaller text body so it doesn’t add noise in the aforementioned situations and are only meaningful for those who actively choose to read it.
PosterDigital is a vast platform with lots of features to cover a wide range of usage scenarios with multiple variables. Deciding which pieces would be included in RoomManager was not a small feat.
RoomManager administration was thought to be used just once. I decided the process would be a step-by-step onboarding for the entire set up:
- Bind the screens
- Link the administration platform to a calendar solution
- Link screens to calendars–rooms–
- Schedule all the screens at once
- Upload the company logo
The onboarding was tricky because things happen elsewhere twice: The binding of the screens has to be done on the screens themselves, and linking the calendar solution has to be done via its software provider own process. This forced me to build an onboarding process with two exit points on where grab the user’s attention back.
RoomManager onboarding process was so useful I was asked to design an extended version for PosterDigital’s platform.
More than half of the screen background would change color depending on the availability of the room.
Companies usually have their logo on a JPG or other graphic file over white background.
Placing the company logo over the white background area of the screen eases the task as not every company has its logo with transparent background.
Every single information likely to be edited in the future must be big enough for the average fingerprint. That was not a fixed size, as RoomManager is compatible with almost every screen in the market. Everything was built with relative size units.
Cutting developing time
With two screens being used simultaneously during the binding process, the user’s divided attention would be both on the digital signage screen being binded and on the computer one.
As we already had PosterDigital’s set up video tutorials by brand on YouTube, my original design was to detect the brand of the screen being binded and embed the suitable video tutorial accordingly on the computer screen during the on boarding process.
This was a good idea but it would have taken too much development time. Not being part of the core product I changed it to a picture of PosterDigital standard set up video tutorial and link it to theYouTube channel containing all of them instead.
RoomManager in Real Life
RoomManager at the office
Tecnilogica by Accenture offices uses RoomManager for managing its meeting rooms.
RoomManager adaptation for hotel event rooms
The purpose of RoomManager Hospitality was including commercials between events and having different templates for three different kindS of events. The biggest challenge was creating a schedule including an indeterminate number of rooms and show the kind of event taking place.
RoomManager Directory Screens
Directory Screens are portrait big screens with the information of all the rooms in the area. I added a customization for sign posting the rooms direction on the onboarding.
The picture on the right shows the first functional test.
RoomManager promotional material
I adapted the online promotional content to brochures, videos and a stand for the ISE–Integrated System Europe–, the world’s largest AV and systems integration show.