School Timetables

Information Design • 2015

Final product photograph

Final product photograph

Final product photograph

At the beginning of the academic year, every student at my school was given their timetable on an A4 sheet of paper. The design of this timetable, both as a physical item and how the information is laid out on the page, isn’t great. I was compelled to redesign the timetable into a product that was much more convenient.

Every sixth former, for security reasons, is required to wear a lanyard with an identification card at all times when on the premises. For this reason it felt obvious to make the timetable slot into the clear card holder. The ID card facing one way, the timetable the other. Having the student’s timetable this close to them at all times meant it was extremely quick to access.

Once the student has got ahold of their timetable, they don’t then want to spend a long time trying to find out what they need. So, I implemented a few tricks in my design to make it quicker to interpret.

Timetable data layout

For the overall layout, it was essential to keep the columns as periods, and rows as days of the week, as this is the same layout students have been used to in the past with their traditional timetable. However I arranged the weeks in a portrait orientation, moving them to a left/right layout. This meant that the days were narrower and were easier for the user to quickly skim across; their eyes travel less, essentially.

I used contrasting, block colours to represent the different subjects as they are easier to visually pick out. Take a scenario where the student wants to find out the next time they have a Biology lesson. To do this they can quickly distinguish all the, say, orange coloured blocks, instead of having to scan through every single period for ones that say “Biology” in small print.

The teachers’ names are shortened to the first 2 letters of their surname rather than their initials. For example, take the teacher’s name Miss Taylor: a student is more likely to understand “Ta” than something like “KBT” as it is more phonetically associative to the name they use on a day-to-day basis, Taylor.

The grid is presented with no distracting black borders; the white gaps matching the colour of the paper. Free periods are indicated with a light grey colour so the student will not mistake them for an actual lesson.

I am very proud of this project, as it was a problem I had discovered on my own, and decided to come up with a solution that ultimately turned out great. It was the first project that made me think deeply about user needs, and come up with the best experience possible out of them. The final outcome had proven to be very popular among my friends who used the design throughout their two years at sixth form.