Building tools that volunteers love to use
Our first project together revolved heavily around these events. Our first challenge was to build a ticketing and will-call system to replace a legacy system used at all of the major championships they run. With such a large membership base, the PGA of America leverages volunteers to serve as a backbone to these events. Individuals donate a few hours of their time, and in exchange, they get access to the event and can spend time working with the organization they are so passionate about. Unfortunately, the tools they were given to work with were difficult to use, required a lot of training, and provided more frustrations then delight.
Observing this, we knew the new application needed to address these frustrations and provide an easy-to-use solution for this older, less tech-savvy group of users. In talking with stakeholders at the PGA of America, we also learned about the technical hurdles that plagued their legacy system. Specifically regarding internet access, or lack thereof, which was a result of the mesh networks that had to be installed at the courses just for these events. Obviously, for an application that was in charge of getting thousands of people through the gates quickly, this was unacceptable.
Over the next few months, we worked with the team at the PGA of America to concept, test, and refine a solution that would address the functional, reliable, and usability needs of the system. We knew we had gotten things right when a volunteer asked if they could work a second shift! This user found the new application so easy to use and approachable that instead of walking away frustrated like many volunteers who used their previous tools, he was excited to stick around, help out more, and get to share his love for the sport with others that had come to the event!
A rock-solid foundation for scale and expansion
The success of this application was the start of a multi-year relationship with the PGA of America. The next solution they asked us to help with expanding the Ticking System to support the needs of Merchandise Sales. This update expanded the system from a dozen or so ticket types to supporting hundreds of different products, and thousands of SKUs. It was a challenge working with the same technical constraints and making sure to keep things simple enough for the same volunteers to help out here as well. Our expansion of the system was such a success that it has remained the primary point-of-sale system for all PGA of America events since we launched it with them years ago. Applying design across the organization.
Thanks to those successes, over the years we’ve had many other opportunities to leverage design thinking to help the PGA of America with some of their most important business objectives.
We’ve worked with the organization to build a new membership portal to connect members across the US, share news and job openings, and highlight the benefits that come with membership. Included in that was a full directory of members and facilities to make it much easier for the public to easily connect with professionals and learn from them directly.
We also worked with them to design interactive microsites for exploring PGA of America-owned golf courses and other properties, and helped them develop a “Golf 2.0” strategy in partnership with Play Golf America to attract more families and community members with more diverse backgrounds to the golf course.
The common thread running through all of our work together is a shared passion for making it easier for people to do the things that excite them and matter to them, whether they’re sharing their love of the game, helping put on a great event, connecting people, or just making the experience of learning and exploring something new a little bit easier and more welcoming than before.