In college, I worked as a student supervisor at the local makerspace. This makerspace was a partnership between the local arts council and the college, which resulted in a diverse clientele spanning high schoolers, retirees, local professionals, college faculty, college staff, and more.
As a Makerspace supervisor, it was my responsibility to check-in guests, ensure that the guest had a waiver on file, and train the guest on the tools they were interested in using.
There were a few pain points when doing this manually:
- It wasn't always easy to verify tool knowledge when we had hundreds of unique guests every week
- Manually tracking that a guest had a waiver signed wasn't always easy when waivers were spread across several binders
- We found that makerspace staff attention was often split between basic, routine check-in procedures and the more critical supervising work they should be done, which was making sure that tools were being properly
So, we got to work building a Portal which makerspace staff could use to log when members came into the space, see which tools they were trained on, and certify that their waiver had been saved. I worked in tandem with my colleague Carlton Segbefia. We wrote it in a mix of Django and Vue JS.
Here's what the login page for the Portal app looked like:
The Portal worked great for new members, because there's a few steps involved when a guest first gets to the space. To become a member, guests must:
- Sign a waiver
- Get their photo taken
- Review a safety guide
- Take a safety quiz
The only downside of the Portal app was that it required manual involvement of the supervisor for return members, distracting supervisors from registering new members and managing the space. This was the existing workflow for return members:
- Member enters the space
- Supervisor greets them, asks if they've been here before
- Member says they have
- Supervisor asks for their name and looks them up on the portal
- Supervisor finds the member in the directory and checks them in
- Supervisor asks which tools member plans on using
- Member says they plan on using tools X, Y, and Z
- Supervisor confirms that these are the tools member can use
This wasn't ideal. So, we decided to create a simple, self-serve experience for return members which wouldn't require supervisor involvement. We decided to use the form factor of a kiosk, in which an iPad would be encased and displayed at the entrance of the space. An eye-grabbing screensaver would further remind returning members to check in. With the kiosk, a guest could facilitate their own check-in process, while the supervisor can still track all the members in the space on their Portal.
Here's a still of the "screensaver" when the guest first encounters the kiosk.
And the user experience of the Kiosk:
There are a few improvements here:
- The lookup process is easier for less common names because the member types in their own name, as opposed to a supervisor making their best guess on spelling.
- It's harder to impersonate another member because we added a verification step (the birthday).
- The member feels more empowered when they see their certified tools on a kiosk, as opposed to being told what they can and can't do by the supervisor.
- The check-in flow becomes a more seamless part of the supervisor's job, as opposed to a timesink