In my senior year in high school, I designed and implemented a new system for scheduling parent-teacher conferences in my school district. At the time I wrote the software, scheduling had been done with pen and paper, which took many volunteer hours. My combination of a web-based and traditional system was successful and used by the district for more than four years.
My design had three levels:
- Parents who preferred the traditional phone system or did not have convenient internet access could still schedule by phone. A volunteer would listen to this phone call while using a computer connected to the system. The volunteer used the website to see which timeslots were open and register for times.
- Parents who logged in online with an older web browser were taken through a wizard-like design, entering information one page at a time in an easy-to-understand way.
- Parents who logged in online with a recent web browser were taken through the same wizard-like design, but with an optional "suggested schedule" feature enabled.
The "suggested schedule" feature simplified the registration process. As the days passed, teachers would have fewer time slots left, and so it would take an increasing amount of time to determine a schedule that had no conflicts. To address this, I added an optional feature where the user could, instead of registering for one teacher at a time, select a list of teachers and range of available times, and the system would automatically suggest a schedule.
The system was implemented with browser compatibility, security, and concurrent access in mind, and the website was designed to provide one action per screen for the clearest user interface.