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Brian Grellmann

Creating the information architecture for a tennis court booking system

Information Architecture

— The Brief

To carry out an information architecture design project by:

  • capturing the IA requirements by doing user research
  • designing the IA of a digital information environment and
  • evaluating the design from an IA perspective

— The Domain

The chosen domain is a tennis court booking system for the city of London. Until recently, booking tennis courts was an offline process done either in person or over the phone. Court bookings can now be done online in most boroughs, however the systems often offer a poor and restrictive experience, hampered by rigid off-the-shelf systems.

— The IA Approach

To begin my project, I conducted four semi-structured interviews with tennis players in London. As my domain is a tennis court booking system, my domain experts were people who booked tennis courts frequently, regardless of their level or skill in the sport.

Key findings:

  • tournament level players were concerned with the quality of a tennis court and were more willing to travel greater distances if it meant the courts would be better
  • novice and intermediate recreational players were concerned with finding a convenient location to play, for example near their home or place of employment if courts are fully booked at their usual location, people tend to give up rather than look for a court elsewhere

The Domain Model: a mapping of the interviews helped to identify themes in booking behaviour and decision making factors. View large version

— Domain Model

Mapping my interviews into a domain model illustrated two key things about my users: their information behaviour and the important decision making factors. My interviewees often play tennis near their home or workplace at a regular location, so they knew where they wanted to play. On the occasions they played somewhere different, they looked for places that were along their regular commutes or in their area.

The Architecture Diagram: a mapping of the site architecture with a bottom-up approach. View large version

— Architecture Diagram

Naturally this lead me to design the court finding aspect of my information architecture with a bottom-up approach using a database model. This model allows for several court attributes to be tagged with metatags which enables powerful searching, browsing, filtering, and dynamic linking. The benefit of this, is that users can find the information they are looking for in various ways.

The User Journey: for a user looking for grass courts near work. View large version

The main navigation for the website is a combination of task-oriented and topical organisation schemes which makes sense as users are coming to the site to find a tennis court to book. Geographical and chronological organisation schemes are incorporated throughout the site to organise information. As each court location has several attributes, the database model allows for court locations to be organised in a chronological scheme by available court times as well as geographically by borough or trainline.

An important feature of the proposed solution is that it allows users to discover other courts if their first choice is full. This is done using related links, associated navigation links created from metatags, and alternative search term suggestions.

— Evaluation

The IA was evaluated throughout the project. In the early stages, an open card sort tool informed the labelling and navigational elements of the website. For example, certain words used to describe tennis court surfaces were categorised under a ‘don’t know’ header. These were adjusted and participants were followed-up with. A treejack test tool was used to test and optomise the findability of topics on the site. Lastly, in-person moderated user testing with the wireframes tested the findability in a site environment. The findability tasks were phrased to the participants as scenarios, including their motivation, the information they have, and the task they have to complete.

Selected Wireframes: the home page and court booking page. View large version

This project received a high distinction grade.