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Checkout Master

12 weeks  |  Sep 2020 - Dec 2020


Proper equipment is critical for academic education, especially for art students. Like other universities, California College of the Arts offers technical support services and equipment checkout services to all current students on campus. However, everything changed in March 2020 due to COVID-19. This was the biggest disruption of global education systems in history. The pandemic affected approximately 1.5B students around the world, who were sent home as schools closed their doors.


Introducing Checkout Master, a platform for academic equipment checkout. It’s designed for use during the pandemic and in the future. You are not only able to checkout equipment through this platform but also make stronger connections within the academic community and learn more in the process.

My Role

Research (Primary + Secondary), Synthesis, Ideation, Wireframing, Visual Design, Prototyping



Federico Villa (Google)

Neil Torrefiel (Uber)

Figma, Miro, Google Forms, Keynote, Adobe creative suite (Photoshop, illstrIllustrator) 


Key Features

School branding is integrated into the experience

1. Sign in & Connect

When opening a student account on the Checkout Master app, the branding color scheme and header's campus building image will change according to each school's branding. A familiar sense of the school will make the student feel more connected.

Easy access to checkout items and relevant information regarding urgent orders

2. Checkout Feature

The idea was to go beyond access to information. You are able to see items checkout in separate orders.  The arrangement is simple and clear. The most urgent issues are listed on top in red, while less urgent issues are at the bottom in green. When you click on an order, you will see more details. For example, additional information about the equipment and renewals. This encourages the user to renew and return via the app. This means no more waiting in line just to renew.

Easily switch between different shops on various campuses while getting familiar with various checkout options

3. Discover by Shops

Allowing students to easily explore a school's free resources effectively reduces waste. Students can choose the nearest campus and the shop they require. It is beneficial for students to see the shops at each location. They no longer need to wander around and get lost in a huge building.

Quickly browse a complete list of items in different categories

4. Equipment Catalog

A wide range of media has been included in equipment catalogs.  Items sorted in categories help users find desired equipment quickly while simultaneously providing suitable substitutions as needed. Conveniently, there is a search bar available on the top when you have specific equipment in mind.

Acquisition of equipment guides and tutorials via video

5. Learning Tutorial

84% of students believe tutorial videos are useful while researching academic tools. Tutorial videos approved by the school administrators will not only increase students' skills but also make them more confident and willing to try new tools. Spreading usage amongst various equipment increases service life. This also reduces questions at the counter, improving checkout speed and permanently reduces total queuing time.

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The most important identity feature is already in your pocket

6. Electronic Identification

The checkout process at your school is about to turn into a whole new experience. Just having your mobile phone allows you to enter the school’s online resources. IQR codes allow endless possibilities such as smart checkout options that reduce the issues of not carrying student ID cards. Simply scan your E-ID when you pick up your equipment at checkout without having to waste time in line.

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Checkout Master’s Instant “anywhere” service allows you to reach out when you have questions

7. Live Helper

There’s no need to wait for a reply via email or wait in line. You can get answers to any queries, recommendations and reports immediately through the live chat. This feature helps you avoid delays in project building. The benefit for the school is that since most conversations are in written messages, one operator can deal with various students’ queries simultaneously.


How did I get here?

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Preliminary Desk Research


I started by conducting extensive research about equipment checkout at various universities and their benefits for students.

I  buried myself in minute details about equipment checkout at California College of the Arts to get a more holistic understanding of the equipment checkout process. Since I was dealing with the higher education system, focusing on my college helped me narrow it down to a specific target audience. I further consolidated the data into a Figma research board and pulled out some of the main insights that highlighted key patterns in my research.

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Competitive Audit

Students' checkout experiences have largely been seen as an afterthought. Students who pay high college tuition deserve a product that can help them foster a supportive learning environment. In order to easily glance at all the available equipment rental products and services, I made a feature comparison chart.

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I sent out a Google survey to CCA students in order to understand their checkout process for major equipment, time, location, experience and feedback. I asked questions specific to their checkout before the pandemic and during it, so that I could find solutions to optimize their situations. I sent out nearly 150 questionnaires to ensure the sample size is statistically significant. I ultimately received 122 responses. In those responses, 50% were undergraduates students and 50% were graduate students.


I Interviewed students to have a deeper understanding of their school equipment needs. Based on insights from the interview, I classified readers into two main categories congruent to their check out habits & frequency. Students that request specific equipment and students that ask for recmmendations. Not surprisingly, these two habits have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Fewer students checked out equipment from the school because the school was locked down. I conducted qualitative interviews with users who fell into those categories and uncovered unique needs, pain points, and motivations. But I didn’t think it was enough just to interview students. To find the truth, I had to get both sides of the story. I invited the managers and staff of the Media Center, Film Cage, Hybrid Lab and Woodshop to be interviewed on Zoom. There are all resources available at CCA.

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The faces of the interviewees are covered to ensure personal privacy


1. The existing checkout services do not give students confidence in how to use the machines.

“I usually explore by myself,
but I don't want to break the machine“

2. Due to the rapid transformation into all online classes, students feel separated from the school community. The school needs to maintain their relationship with the student community 
with the least
physical contact.

“ I feel like I lost the whole CCA community,when the schools are lockdown”

3. Even after the students waited in line their problem still might not be solved. Students demand a fast and efficient system.

“Once I was in line four times for a long wait,
and I still couldn't borrow what I wanted.


I built three personas: one undergraduate, one graduate, and one professor. The personas portray different kinds of users that reflect individuals’ motivations, needs, and pain points based on their habits and preferences.

My research revealed that different users would use the Checkout Master for various reasons. This process granted me a more holistic understanding of the users’ needs that the product aimed to address.

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Empathy Map

As a CCA student and researcher, my in-person checkout experience is somewhat inconvenient. However, it certainly does not represent other’s experiences. In order to experience a user’s struggle and frustration, I built an empathy map. It is a simple and easy-to-digest visual that captures knowledge about a user’s behaviors and attitudes. This allows me to understand their experience with different types of research groups.

Journey Map

Based on all the research, I mapped out Ben’s engagement levels throughout his discovery journey, checkout, equipment use, and return to the CCA Media Center.

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The Journey Map & User Personas highlighted the following opportunities based on identified pain points, needs, and engagement levels throughout the journey.

1. Optimizing the experience of discovering equipment


2. Tutoring students before using the equipment


3. Solving the problems when using the equipment



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Low-Fidelity Sketches

After updating the sketches several times, the main features were arranged and organized. The seamless connection of each module makes sure our users have a smooth experience.

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Mid-Fidelity Mockups

A Mid-fidelity prototype displays vital interactions of the final solution. This means that the prototype can be used with users for testing purposes. This makes it easy for me to gather many insights about their conduct and interactions with the software. The mid-fi prototype helps me utilize these insights that I can use to refine the solutions.

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Next Steps

1. Develop Equipment reservation 

2. Expand intelligent live helper

3. Start user testing 

Up next

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