Most churches have some sort of “Children’s Ministry”; that’s a department of the church where they take care of the kids while the parents attend church. You’ve probably heard of Sunday School — it’s that, plus a bit more.
There are two big problems with running a program like this. First is security: records around childcare need to be airtight, and there needs to be a trustworthy way to connect parent to child. Second is throughput: in a large church, there are potentially hundreds of families checking in their kids of various ages, all within a 15- or 20-minute span.
“Kid check” was a very commonly requested feature, and it was believed it would unlock about 2,500 sales for The City. We had several churches lined up who were more than happy to provide us with their requirements.
It was also a great opportunity to pave the way for new families to get plugged into a new church, seeing as how the Children’s Ministry is a typical first point of connection.
There were several reputable check-in systems on the market, but none of them had good connection points to the rest of the product we were building; it was clear that we would gain a lot of advantage from doing this ourselves. We took a good look at the competition and figured out what we’d be benchmarked against. We knew we’d have to get our check-in time down to about 30 seconds to be competitive.
What we did
We started with a very intense one-day hackathon, which generated some really good ideas and some rapid prototypes. Starting with the results of that work, I cherrypicked the strongest ideas and mapped out our experience, walking through the process as a parent, as a volunteer manning the check-in kiosk, and as an administrator dealing with issues like teacher-to-kid ratios and room balancing.
Once we had the design laid out, we continued to build and tested out the process as we went. There was a lot of pressure (potential clients were chomping at the bit) and we went as fast as we could, though it was a complex beast and needed to integrate with a system that was already becoming a proverbial box of hangers.
I designed it out in its entirety, but for the sake of delivery, we focused on the parent and volunteer experience. We built only those pieces that were absolutely critical for administrators; room management and reporting would have to wait. But we did manage to include some important customization features around the kiosk background and logo usage.
We built and tuned and built and tuned and tested.
Our happy path check-in time was an astonishing 12 seconds! Yes, you read that right. TWELVE SECONDS. It actually took longer for the printer to print the labels than it did for the entire check-in process to complete.
And even the non-happy paths were quick and painless, simplified as much as possible and built to be smooth and clear.
Our clients were thrilled, and so were we. From inception to release took two very intense months.