Polaris Beta Testing – Week One

Polaris began its beta testing on February 22, 2017. Over the past two weeks, over 250 students, duty crew members, duty administrators (DA), and weekend coordinators have started using Polaris. From such as diverse group of users, I have received much valuable feedback and made adjustments to Polaris accordingly. In this week’s blog post, I will detail some of the user responses and how they are addressed.

Administrator Dashboard

Polaris includes a “DA / Weekend Coordinator” console that allows the two types of administrators to manage the entire Polaris database through a graphical interface. When an administrator signs in, he or she is first greeted with a “welcome screen.” It contains a summary of the trips based on real-time statistics.


The original “welcome screen” (left) and the current “welcome screen” (right).

On the first day of beta testing, I presented this screen to T. Anne Coleman who was the weekend DA on that day. She recommended that I focus on trips themselves. As a result, “Students Off Campus” was removed because the piece of information was “useless” to the DA. It turned out that a DA is much more likely to be in need of the location of a particular student rather than the total number of students who are off campus. “Community Weekend Events” was also removed for the same reason. The remaining two summary items–”Active Trips” and “Upcoming Trips”–were renamed “Currently Off-Campus” and “Remaining This Weekend” to eliminate confusion. Finally, an additional called “Departing Soon” was added to the summary list. The following SQL code is now being used to generate the summary item:

SELECT Count(*)
FROM   trips
WHERE  departure_time BETWEEN current_time AND two_hrs_later

The code instructs the database to count the number of rows from table “trips” with the restriction that the “departure_time” falls between the “current_time” and the time “two_hrs later”. The resulting number represents the trips that are departing in the next two hours. Adding this summary item would make sense because the DA can prepare the van keys for the trips that are “departing soon”.

Duty Crew Attendance View

In my previous blog post, I wrote about the redesign of the duty crew version Polaris. The new design was widely praised for its intuitiveness. In fact, the majority of the duty crew members were able to complete a trip with Polaris without any assistance. Among the many components of the duty crew version Polaris, the “attendance view” received the most critical feedback.

A lot of the times when a duty crew member begins the check-in process, one or two students who did not sign up beforehand would show up and request to be admitted to the trip. The easiest workaround is to have the student sign up for the trip. The limitation, however, is that the student must bring his or her own device. The other workaround is simply to use the paper-based “Van Sign-Out Form”.


The new features allows the addition of new passengers.

Polaris’ next update will come with a new feature that allows duty crew members to add new passengers to the trip by simply typing in their names. As the duty crew member types, Polaris intelligently makes predictions of the passenger’s name and provides autocomplete suggestions. A new passenger can then be added when the duty crew member clicks enter.

In retrospect, I am awed by the extent to which the customers, Westtown students, and faculty, in this case, have shaped Polaris. It reminds me of the importance of users’ role in the development and the continuous evolution of a product once again.

Works Cited

Schlemmer, John. “The New Material Design Motion Guidelines.” Dribbble, 11 May 2016, dribbble.com/shots/2705151-The-New-Material-Design-Motion-Guidelines. Accessed 30 Feb. 2017.

3 thoughts on “Polaris Beta Testing – Week One

  1. tkbarnet

    The idea to let the duty crew member add students on his device seems like a great and simple solution to the problem.

  2. india.henderson

    Not only are the graphics amazing on this page, but what I have seen of the app itself is really great too! I love how it is accessible to both students and faculty and seems to make things simpler (and a lot more fun) for everyone. Can’t wait to see what else comes out of this.


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