Methods Used

Contextual Inquiry
Cognitive Walkthrough
Interactive Prototyping

Tools Used

Pen & Paper
Adobe Illustrator

The users are teachers and media center administrators at Apple Valley High School who want an easier way to reserve technology for their students.

The Challenge

Apple Valley High School (AVHS) has a fabulous media center with computer labs, iPads, and laptops available for teacher’s to reserve for their students. However, they need a more organized system for the reservation process. Teacher’s currently reserve computer labs and equipment through a Google form system that requires someone on the media center team to manually place in a shared Google calendar. This process is tedious as they get anywhere from 10-20 reservations in a day. It’s also more likely for mistakes to be made when manually entering in these reservations, resulting in double bookings or the reservation of the incorrect labs or equipment. There is a new system in the works: a web app called “Eagle Reserve”. This app addresses some of these pain points, but has some usability hiccups and is missing a few key features.

The Approach

Through contextual inquiry with the media center team at AVHS and a cognitive walkthrough of Eagle Reserve, I gathered data relating to the every day experience of teachers and staff at AVHS as well as usability of Eagle Reserve and determined if and where usability and functionality might be improved. Using this information I created an interactive prototype for an updated version of Eagle Reserve.

Click Here for a Guided Tour of My Suggestions

Contextual Inquiry

Myself and 4 other UX Designers teamed up and met with two media center administrators in AVHS. We had 2 simple goals. Below are these 2 goals and what we discovered during our time at AVHS:

1) Discover through questions and observation how the current system works.

We quickly discovered that the teachers and media center administrators have a good relationship and communicate well with one another. We found out that the current system involves teachers filling out a Google Form which is then e-mailed to the media center administrators. Whoever receives the e-mail first then inputs that request into a shared Google Calendar that the administrators and teachers are able to view. They receive anywhere from 10-20 requests a day, however some of those requests happen in person the same day that teacher needs the equipment or computer lab. While this system works for them, they mentioned they are looking for a system that cuts out the manual processing of Google Forms into Google Calendar, as this is tedious and human error has caused double booking. We learned that the teachers (usually Science and English) who make reservations prefer to look at the schedule in a week by week view and that it is important for administrators to be able to quickly reserve and edit reservations for teachers who need last minute adjustments.

2) Watch them use Eagle Reserve (our developer’s first draft of an improved web app system).

As we watched the administrators use Eagle Reserve, we discovered that it was fairly simple for them to figure out, but they were frustrated by the limitations in ability to edit reservations, users, items, and that it did not have an efficient or consistent way of viewing one week at a time. They mentioned that they liked the simplicity of the layout, but that they would like it to fill more of their screen and have more functionality when it came to adding and editing reservations.

Each member of our team also walked through a simple step by step analysis of Eagle Reserve and discovered a need for consistency when viewing dates and times in different pages of the website.

This process of identifying helped us prioritize what needed to be addressed first so that we could begin creating an improved prototype for Eagle Reserve.

Cognitive Walkthrough

To better understand the current state of the Eagle Reserve web app I went through task by task asking myself these 4 questions about each task:

  1. Is the effect of the current action the same as the user’s goal? (Mental Model)
  2. Is the action visible?
  3. Will the user recognize the action as the correct one? (Mapping)
  4. Will the user understand the feedback?

This detailed process revealed a few paint points:

  1. Inconsistency in the way calendar information is displayed. I found 3 different ways I could view dates on different pages of the website: a grid view, a calendar dropdown, and a list view. This inconsistency cause confusion with what information I was looking at.
  2. The color red was used in feedback. This gives me the idea that I have done something incorrect, when in fact I am simply about to complete or have completed an intended task.

For the most part Eagle Reserve had a lot of the main functions usable, and I knew from the contextual inquiry that our users enjoyed the simplicity of the current web app. With a few small changes and additions this app would be meaningful and usable for AVHS.


Taking these findings each member of our team began to tackle this prototype on our own. I decided to focus on created an easier and simpler flow. This meant a clearly defined home page, and more consistency in the way the teachers and administrators could view dates and reservations.

Click on the images below to see some examples of what the teacher flow of Eagle Reserve looked like before, and my proposed solutions.

The administrator flow needs more attention because it requires more editing options. Click below to see some examples of the current process for administrators and then my suggestions:

Click Here for a Guided Tour of My Suggestions


The next step of this process would be to test this prototype on both the administrators we met with and the teachers who would be using Eagle Reserve.