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Spaces - Conceptual Model

Spaces is an interactive interface that assists students in finding the available study spots on campus. It emerges from the common challenges faced by students, especially concerning the UC Davis Shield’s library. Our method incorporates the seat map layout of individual sections across all floors and is available as a web app for the students to view the actual, real-time situation of available study spots. Spaces also ensures fluidity, as it is a part of the MyUCDavis homepage and students can directly visit the web app from that page. As part of our design process, Spaces aims to provide a scalable solution that enables UC Davis students to efficiently find study spots on campus.

My Role:

Lead UX Research, UX Design

Time Frame: 

Six weeks (February - March 2020) 

Team Members: 

Dhruv Saxena, Eshan Wadhwa, Shreya Venkatesan

Challenge Statement 

Several students have expressed frustration about the lack of preferable study spots on campus; however, a pragmatic solution to this specific pain point remains to be accomplished. 

Our Solution 

One of the many ways it solves the problem is by assisting students, who earlier would go up and down the individual floors to find seating of their choice, can now see before-hand which spaces are available.


Looking at UC Davis student statistics, there are over 30,000+ students attending classes in any given academic quarter. These students spend a considerable time both attending classes and studying on campus. A survey conducted by our group found that a majority of college students study for their exams on campus, as they tend to be more productive and less distracted than if they were elsewhere. In order to provide suitable study spaces, UC Davis administration has 8 areas of study spaces, out of which only 4 lie in the heart of the campus - Shields Library, CoHo/MU, Silo and SCC. Shields Library happens to be the largest structure of study spaces, having a capacity of 3,391 students at any time and the overall number of all these 4 areas adds up to about 4,000 study spaces. The administration bets on the fact that only 10% of the total student population looks for study spaces at a given point of time. Although this might be true for a usual week, based on the heavy responses from our survey, it surely isn’t true during midterm and finals week.

User Research

​​​​​​​“If I have to settle for a 'bad' spot to study, it affects my ability to focus and be productive. It also makes me frustrated that I spend time trying to find a spot when I could've used that time to study.” 


Our group sent out a survey to UC Davis students to further investigate the relationship between students’ study habits and being able to find study spaces on campus. Based on the responses gathered, 75% of the students expressed that it was quite difficult to find spots to study on campus, as it would take them 20-30 minutes to look for them. The unfortunate truth, however, is that even after searching, students don’t always find study spots. When students are unable to find study spots, it affects their overall productivity and motivation to study in addition to increasing their frustration and stress in an already stressful time.

Students tend to:

  1. Go home to study, which ends up in getting distracted and losing focus

  2. Postpone studying, which ends up in cramming right before the exam

  3. Alter sleep schedules, which ends up in them pulling all-nighters.\

Conceptual Model


The conceptual layout circles around a schematic seat map indicating occupied and vacant seats with distinct colors.

One of the many ways it solves the problem is by assisting students, who earlier would go up and down the individual floors to find seating of their choice, can now see before-hand which parts of the study spaces are available. This optimizes the process from a brute-force approach. Based on the survey, students also mentioned they prefer some seats over others based on their needs such as better lighting, better wi-fi connectivity, proximity to wall sockets etc. We included filters for the seat map, indicating ideal seats based on their preferences. The execution is based on our desire to make the entire process efficient. We followed HCI principles such as visibility and accessibility in order to make students understand and utilize our product’s features and functionalities. To tackle accessibility, we included our concept as an extension of the UC Davis app and plan to have physical structures containing our concept at different parts of the library to make it more visible. 

Prototype & Implementation 

After conceptualizing, we chose to make our concept a website view due to the constraints we have faced regarding the Library’s vast floor plan. It was difficult to condense the floor plan into a mobile view considering all the filters, seat views, and table views for each and every floor.

We started off our process with creating a myUC Davis tile for our concept “Study Spaces.” From the data we collected through our interviews and surveys, it was apparent that the majority of the students study at the Library on campus so we chose to focus on the Shields Library for our concept.

Screenshot-2024-01-28-at-6.32.09 PM
Screenshot-2024-01-28-at-6.31.35 PM

We included a floor plan overview of the five floors of the library as an introductory page. We chose to make it aesthetically pleasing to attract an element of visual design. 

After clicking on a specific floor, we created a floor view showing the different sections. We included filters and preference selections on the right hand side of the section view, and a color coded key showing the overview of how many seats there are available on the left hand side of the section view page. 

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Screenshot-2024-01-28-at-6.35.18 PM

We included the table view and seat view separately in case people wanted to view the floor plans of each, and so the design would look seamless and clean. We chose to have gray represent “no available spaces” and green to represent “available spaces” for the table view. 


We included a pop-up modal for the seat view that users can click on, for each green table view. For the seat view, we chose to label the unavailable seats in red, and the available seats in green. Due to the time constraints, our prototype is limited in functionality since we were not able to consider all 5 floors of the library, including the different sections, and table and seat layouts. 

Screenshot-2024-01-28-at-6.35.43 PM



Future Improvements

  1. Implementing this feature to be available all across campus including other study spots such as Mondavi Center, Silo, and the Dorms!

  2. Available on every device, ranging from tablet, website, to mobile and other interactive devices. 

  3. Introducing this concept to all colleges across the nation and having it implemented. 

© Alekhya Yallapragada 2024