The Residence Life Management System (RMS) is used for reservations, roommate requests, property management, move-in and move-out, cleaning and payment schedules for Universities. It was developed for The University of Wisconsin-Madison and is also used by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
I was in-charge of the Front-End "look-and-feel" which included developing an interactive Floor plan as well as all the CRUD operations that are included in the Admin panel. I also developed an algorithm to pair Roommates based on similar lifestyle choices.
A diagram of the Backend Architecture, a.k.a. “The view from 10,000 feet”.
I was tasked to develop a web application that would be used by students applying for university housing online. The current form of housing application was on paper and students would form a line out the door the morning the application window opened. This led to an all-day wait for some students to get their housing request in.
One student even fainted one year from standing in line for so long. Clearly there was room for improvement.
We began by designing a clear user flow for students before we started development.
We wanted the workflow to minimize the amount of actions required for the student to complete his or her application.
Designed to be action driven.
We designed and developed an interactive floorplan for Students to get a good sense of the layout of the residence halls before choosing a room. Doing this also guarantees the student the room they choose since the second it is chosen and they accept the agreement, the room is held for them.
The interactive floorplan to choose your room.
As cool as the interactive floorplan is, many students may log in from their phones, which could provide a bad user experience when trying to click a tiny room in a floorplan from a mobile device. For this reason the entire site was built to be mobile-first with the interactive floorplan as an enhancement.
Roommate requests are also a big part of the new system and needed to be as straightforward as possible. If a student is requested as a roommate by another student, they receive an email alerting them. They can then either accept or deny the request.
Accepting the request automatically puts them in the same room.
Students may apply and then forget to make their payments for various reasons or parents may want to pay but don’t have the credit card handy. For these reasons, we save their room temporarily for a week as a grace period, and send them nightly emails reminding them to pay before the hold window is over. This was done using a cron job to find all the students who had submitted applications but hadn’t paid yet.
“The Oklahoma Land Rush”
In the first hour after launch of the new system, over 600 students applied, paid, and had their room reserved. By the end of the day, 1300 students knew where they would be living next year. This was all without anyone fainting from dehydration while waiting in line.
The University of Wisconsin Platteville averaged 2300 returning students staying in their residence halls previously.
The first year using the new system, they had 2600 returning students apply for housing.