The Client:

Appleton Talent is a company focused primarily on developing customizable talent acquisition and management solutions for educational institutions and companies.

The Problem:

As Appleton’s K12 public school, temporary-employee placement services expanded in 2015, the employee assignment software in use was no longer sufficient. The fill rate for many districts was low, the systemic difficulties of matching temporary employees to open positions were not being addressed, on-boarding was difficult, and acquiring meaningful data on fill rate trends was nearly impossible. There were no products in the market capable of addressing these issues in a systemic and user-friendly way.

The Solution:

A user-friendly, much needed time, attendance, and substitute management software that streamlined the necessary tasks for the process of creating, managing, and filling temporarily open positions.   


discovery, strategy, and User Experience Design

A Human-Centered Design Process

Getting to the bottom of solving the problem of unsatisfactory fill rates and low software adaptation required an intimate understanding of the how the process was currently handled, as well as the pain points and goals of each group in the process. 

The project was started through a series of surveys and interviews, eventually leading to embedded interviews so that, through the process of following stakeholders throughout an average day, we could more clearly understand what made their job easier or more difficult in the context of absence and workforce management. 

Through this intimate knowledge of our users, we were able to create clearer personas and a meaningful Goals and Features brief that provided our KPIs and served as a compass throughout the entire project.   

Keeping it Focused

Out of this Goals and Features brief, user journeys and experience maps were created and tested so that experience flows could be outlined, creating the backbone of the product and ensuring a logical alignment with real user needs. 


Keeping the cognitive load as low as possible and the facilitation of adaptation were high priorities, so clear content and UX patterns were designed and maintained holistically throughout the product. Hierarchy of content and actions were outlined and templated.

Four consistent basic templates emerged: Dashboard, Actionable/historical items, Profile and Settings, and Reports, with ~90% of the day to day activity for each user group expected to occur on the Dashboard.
All of this served to keep RoleCall as friendly and familiar as possible, fulfilling user expectations expectations and needs. 


After validating the wireframes, everything came together with the visual design of the user interface and brand identity.


UI Dashboard FOR SCHOOL employeeS 

1. Top Level View: Employees get a clear overview of how many and what kind of absences they have used and what remains. 

2. Prioritization: Submitting an absence is the primary action and was simplified to the necessary information required. Feedback is provided only when it's relevant. Any additional information that may be needed to fill their absence has been previously set up in the employee profile and teachers can additionally upload a lesson plan and/or notes at the time of the absence creation or later. If an employee has a relationship with a preferred sub and that sub is available, a drop menu allows the employee to easily request that sub. 

3. Less Navigation: The Upcoming Absences tab allows the employee to easily see if their absence request has been approved and who will be the substitute. The Past Absences provides a clear record of pasts absences and allow the employee to up/down vote the substitute, which will either add the sub to the preferred list or prevent the sub from filling the absence again in the future.   


UI dashboard FOR Substitutes

1. Clear, Easy Job Management: Subs are able to see their stats with a weekly or monthly toggle. This, along with the color coding of the days under the Jobs tab, makes the task of filling up their work week very efficient. The weekly view also lets the sub now how many preferred jobs (predefined school, subjects, teachers, etc) are available on a given day. Visual cues (exclamation point) lets the sub know if there are issues with previously submitted time cards.  

2. Options: The sub can easily toggle between a week and monthly view, or specify a date. 

3. Building Relationships: Subs receive notifications when they have been requested to substitute by an employee or admin. 

4. The Right Kind of Jobs: The rest of the dashboard is populated with cards for available jobs for that day or date range. In the job details, tags are associated that the sub can up/down vote to help improve the types of jobs that appear on the dashboard.  

5. In the sub's Profile Area, a Notification tab gives RoleCall more details about the sub's availability and contact preferences. This also affects how jobs are filtered for the sub's dashboard.


UI dashboard for sChool and district administrators 

1. How's the Health of My District or School? Admins need a high level view of the absences, vacancies, and fill rates of their school or district on a day to day basis so they can easily determine priority concerns. Items that require their immediate attention, such as unfilled absences or open timecards are highlighted and elevated with a call to action. 

2. First Things First: When an admin reviews a open absence, a modal window pops out with the details that an admin needs to know in order to determine whether to take an action, such as finding another preferred sub that is listed as available or releasing the job to all available subs. 

3. Streamlining the Process: When an absence is submitted by an employee, there may be a need for that absence to be approved by an admin. Here, an admin can see the details of a submitted absence and can determine whether it can be approved or disputed.

4. Reducing the Time for Time Management: When a substitute takes a job, they are required to check in and out, effectively creating a timecard. Admins can easily review these timecards and approve or dispute. Historical records of approved or disputed cards are in the same tab structure.

5. Timesheets are what subs use to check in and out the day of a job. Admins can do this manually when subs arrive or a public view can be toggled so that subs can log in themselves. 


The Results

Through extensive user and market research, interviews, and a user-centered design process, a product was created specifically for the needs of school staff, substitutes, human resources, and administrators to simplify the process of submitting absences, finding and filling open positions, managing a temporary workforce, as well as gathering robust and actionable data. The result is the guarantee of an extremely high fill rate (97%) and a lot of time, money, and frustration saved.

Appleton has since made RoleCall the center of their business growth and has appeared on Inc. 5000's Fastest Growing 2016 list. RoleCall is currently in the process of being expanded into a full K12 HR suite.



Product visual Branding

Smart • Accessable • Friendly


Marketing Site

Although RoleCall launched in 2016 directly to over 50,000 of Appleton's existing client base, marketing strategies are currently being designed to scale into additional districts, using the brand standards, principals, and metrics created throughout the creation and development of the product.


Learn more here: www.rolecall.info


The Core Team:

Frank Cohee (www.chimaera.io) - User research, product strategy
Adam Campbell (www.zedworkshop.com) - Lead product development, product strategy
Joe Davis (www.chimaera.io) - Production design
Eric Tomlinson - Product management, user experience design, product strategy, creative direction, visual design