9 Tap Tour
The 9 Tap Tour app is a desktop application designed to keep track of the players and members of the 9 Tap Bowling Tour.
I was the lead of a small design team, consisting of me and two part time designers. 9 Tap never had an initial design process, so we had our work cut out for us. The app had been in development for three years by the time I was brought into it. There had never been any design thinking on how it was supposed to function. The app was built in Visual Studio using standard WinForms functionality. This means we had an easy drag and drop way to create the app, but it left a lot to be desired aesthetically.
We had three months to get the app from where it was to releasability, an aesthetic change was going to have to wait. As lead designer, I decided a functional overhaul was more important.
The most important thing we had to understand was the user. We were lucky as our main user was Rob, the owner of the tour. However, he was expanding to different regions, and those directors would be reporting their scores to him using this app. We needed to design not just for the experienced user, but the brand new one.
There were some additional factors involved, such as hardware limitations. Rob still uses a tractor feed dot matrix printer, which mean we had some very narrow specifications to follow to ensure reports were able to be printed properly.
We also looked at the human centered use of the app. Rob was inputting hundreds of recaps (score cards) each tournament. He preferred not to use a mouse, and needed the info to go in a very specific order. We had to pay close attention to HOW he entered the info and recreate that in our tab order. He also needed the app to be resizable (why it wasn't, I don't know) and have a responsive layout.
Our team spent many hours understanding bowling tournament rules, how Rob ran his tournament, how the scoring and cashing worked, how each bowler participated, etc. This gave us the information needed to make sure all the forms and final outputs functioned in exactly the way Rob needed them to.
The original app was broken into two forms, plus a landing page and various sub-forms. We decided to break it into three forms in the initial redesign phase- Member Data, Member Scores, Printables, and the sub-forms accessed by each button. This ended up not being the final iteration, but gave me a jumping off point for further refining.
We did a complete analysis of what each task was in entering a bowler in the tournament and how their scores were entered. I knew we needed to take a more task centered approach. Rob was expanding the tour to different regions, meaning eventually there would be different directors for each region as well as different staff. We needed an app that was easy to use and allowed the users to move quickly through their work.
We ended up breaking the forms up into three main functions- Members, Tournaments, and Recaps and Reports.
After some very lo-fi wireframes on the whiteboard, we went for mocks using the WinForms app.
We broke the
Quick Add Member
Based what we watched Rob do at the tournaments, as well as the tab order he asked us to create, I realized that a quick add form would be useful. He only added their name and payment dates when he was registering everyone at the beginning of a tournament, so I used that information to create the quick add form.
Tournaments was broken down into its component tasks as well. Following the steps that Rob used to put someone into a tournament, we created a visual flow in the buttons to mimic the steps needed to create and run a tournament. Tasks that were initially included on the scores form were removed and moved to their own buttons, the main one being the Finalize Tournament. This allowed for a cleaner UI and gave the user a more focused workspace with fewer buttons to mistakenly click.
Member Scores (Singles)
Here is the main screen where Rob and his employees input all the scores from the tournament. Scores need to be input before bowlers leave, so an intuitive, tab-able UI was crucial.
Member Scores (Doubles)
In the initial form design, the doubles were added as another member line on the same scores form. After learning the rules for doubles tournaments, we realized they needed to be on their own form, as the rules were just different enough to require slightly different code and logic that needed to be encapsulated in that form.
Recaps and Reports
Recaps and Reports was an easy change. It was the only one that survived from the initial redesign plan. We moved everything that was a printable to this screen. They're only used once per tournament, so there's no need to have them on any other form.
YES. WE RELEASED.
After a long slog filled with redesigns, tracking down redundant code, a lot of time spent in bowling alleys, and the mysteries of getting dot matrix printers to work, we ended up releasing the app after 3 long years. Rob was thrilled. His and his employees workload was decreased by about 50% and they were able to keep track of scores and standings much more efficiently.