Simplifying space reservations at HKS

Common spaces at Harvard Kennedy School. (Peter Vanderwarker/Harvard Magazine)
Figure 1: SpaceBook homepage (green boxes/arrows highlight useful content while red ones flag areas of concern)
Figure 2: Choice overload with room types
Figure 3: Information overload with room type explanations
Figure 4: Searching for rooms to create new booking
Figure 5: Running search for rooms available on particular date and time
Figure 6: Confirming number of attendees is within room capacity
Figure 7: Selected room(s) added at top pf page
Figure 8: Reservation details including event and affiliation information
Figure 9: Confirmation page upon creating reservation
Figure 10: Reservation cancellation email received the next day
  1. Clarifying a problem helps process design
    SpaceBook assumes that users are interested in just reserving a room. Reformulating the problem definition to reserving a room for office hours, meetings, or other events provides more specificity. Data on the purpose HKS affiliates use rooms can help design an initial question that guides the subsequent reservation process.
  2. Excessive choices and information deter users
    Forcing users to make a decision after reviewing a sea of choices and information results in sub-optimal outcomes and frustration as illustrated above. The room reservation process could be redesigned such that responses to a minimum set of questions help narrow the options using decision trees and branching logic.
  3. Inefficient processes overburden scarce resources
    An overly complicated process compels users to seek help. Staff members waste precious time addressing issues that could easily be avoided through a user-centered design in the first place.
  1. Time users take to complete reservation process
  2. Time staff spends on reviews and providing help
  3. Number of cancellations



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Syed Imaad

Syed Imaad

MPP Candidate at Harvard Kennedy School. Former Mayoral Fellow at City of Chicago and Deputy Director at Government of Punjab, Pakistan. MIT and UIUC alum.