The client is well known in the hospitality industry and was looking to revamp their suite of products. The software was outdated and they were losing their market share. They knew it was time to act quickly and needed an assessment of their current software and a plan to go forward with.
(1) Head of Product
(1) Product Manager/Hospitality Expert
(1) Head of UX/UI
(1) Senior UX Designer (Me)
(1) UI/Visual Designer
(1) In-House Front End Developer
(4) Remote Software Engineers
Analyze existing wireframes and identify areas for improvement.
Interview users to understand customer needs.
Create clickable prototype for client review using Axure.
Brainstorm UX workflows and create a scalable framework for the CMS.
I was a Senior UX Designer on this project and worked directly with Head of Product and a Hospitality Industry Expert. We started with reviewing the current state of the CMS. This involved user interviews with internal employees as well as current customers, pain point analysis, a lot of information architecture, market research, workflow development and initial wireframes.
(Above) Example of current state software interface
(Above) Three main competitors identified during market research
In order to understand the Software landscape of the Hospitality industry, I performed some up-front Market Research on CRS’s (Central Reservation Systems). I found that CRS’s are used to store data about rates and rooms as well as reservation information with hotels. I identified the three top competitors and did research on their feature sets, recent UI developments, and software releases.
(Above) Questions for User Interviews
I created a list of questions to ask our current clients for a series of user interviews. These questions were geared towards understanding how our software fit into their everyday lives. We wanted to know what features and functions they used and what areas they had trouble with.
(Above) Pain Point Analysis Spreadsheet
I recorded issues that clients were experiencing into a sheet and were sortable by user or pain point. We did this to understand the frequency of each pain point and who it was being reported by. We recorded this information so that we could prioritize issues to fix the existing software while working on the new platform.
(Above) Mapping out workflows for new platform
After many iterations for determining a CRUD (create, read, edit, delete) flow. I recorded them using a mind mapping tool so that we could apply that workflow to other areas of the CMS.
(Above) Brainstorm for the CRS/CMS
We brainstormed requirements for particular areas of the application so that we could prioritize needs and future developments for each phase of the application.
A Modular Approach
We decided to take a modular approach to the CMS due to scalability and management. We wanted to be able to roll out features as they came. We would launch with a core set of features and have the ability to add later. Also, we wanted to give users the flexibility to choose which features they wanted as most hotels and chains suites have many tools they use and they may not need to see all of the modules. I was lead UX on the property module and the email module.
(Above) Different Modules for the CMS
The property module is the most important aspect of this particular CMS. This is where the inventory management occurs. For example, when a customer searches for Valentine’s day package on Expedia.com, the objects involved are rate plans (ex: Valentines Day Package $250 a night on particular nights), add-ons such as a champagne bottle, and a particular room type such as a King Bedroom. All of these objects need to be created in this module. This is also where the rates and rules are set (ex: $149 per night – minimum 2 nights – only available 2-14-17 through 2-16-17).
(Above) Proposed Menu Architecture
I created a few iterations of a proposed new menu architecture for this module. The main pain points for the property module were that it was confusing to navigate and users couldn’t tell if they had completed the task. This new menu architecture was validated by a hotel industry expert and I continued to create wireframes using this skeleton.
(Above) Current State Relationship Chart
I mapped out the relationship between the main elements of the application. Because there were so many elements tied to a rate plan, it made it very difficult to understand their true relationship.
(Above) Proposed Relationship Chart
I then broke out these elements and kept only the essential elements that a Rate Plan required. This gave more importance to specific elements like packages that had an equal hierarchy to that of a rate plan. I then used these charts to create an interactive prototype.
(Above) Property Module Prototype
The email module was another core module that needed to be included in the phase 1 launch of this CMS. The email module’s main function was to create email templates to notify guests. These were system emails such as email confirmations or reservation updates that would be sent directly to guests after a reservation had been completed, updated or canceled. I was lead UX on this module and worked with a product manager, who had hospitality experience.
(Above) Email Module Workflow & Menu Architecture Diagram
(Above) Email Module Brainstorms
We brainstormed the main editor for the email template maker. I worked with the product manager who had specific technology requirements and limitations that needed to be considered when creating this module.