Revamping the ODL Bournemouth site

Published on 12th May 2015 by Jon

We recently gave the Base site a complete overhaul. It wasn’t anything dramatically different in terms of visuals, but it’s a complete rebuild on new, leaner code. It means blog posts look gorgeous and project pages are unique and a joy to read. It’s only fitting that the Open Device Lab gets the same treatment.

The site in 2014

The ODL site in 2014

We’ve now completely revamped the ODL Bournemouth site to bring it closer to the Base site and make them feel consistent. The most dramatic change comes in the device list – you may have already noticed the device list is now front and centre of the site. This allows us to proudly display our worlds-largest collection of open devices and quickly let you sort through them.

The new device listing allows you to filter and search for a device, allowing you to drill down to the devices you want. Just looking for HTC Android devices? You can filter that down, really quickly.

All of this information pulls in from our device data, so any changes there are reflected quickly on the site. If a device is unavailable, it won’t show up on the site.

New Features

Bookings are easier

This brand new device list allows you to choose devices before you book, letting you select up to 10 devices and then proceed to the booking form. These devices are saved across sessions in a cookie, so you can leave the process and come back later before deciding on your selection. You can make searches and filters and your device choices are kept saved.

To select a device for booking, click the row. It’ll highlight green. You can select up to 10 devices for any booking. Then simply hit the top right ‘Review’ button to see your selection, and then continue onto the booking, a lot like a checkout process.

Gone are the days of having to refer to the mammoth device list to type them in manually. It makes it easier for us to track and prepare devices for bookings, and means the margin for error is lower. We hope it’ll make your booking experience that much easier.

Tracking popular devices

There’s also a new sort that allows you to view by Popularity. This is based on the number of uses, so a device that gets used a lot will head straight to the top of the list. However, this means a brand new device will languish at the bottom of the list, so older devices definitely have an advantage here. Using the ‘Featured’ view will let you see new and upcoming devices.

Featuring devices

We’re massively proud of the huge number of devices we have here, but often the quantity hides the important devices we think people should be using and devices people will want to know about.

We can now adjust featured devices and prioritise them on the homepage. When you first arrive on the ODL site (or hit ‘Clear Filters’) the first devices you see are featured, allowing you to quickly glance at them, see what’s new, and see what might be worth including in your next testing session.


We’ve also added a Handbook to the site. This will provide you with relevant answers to any questions you might have, or give you more ideas on how best to test across Web, iOS, or Android. We hope it’ll arm you with information and make your testing session even more effective.

Iterating the experience

The sheer quantity of our devices makes any user experience a real challenge. Making a new ODL site has been a process of iteration, changing and dropping features as we go. If we wanted it perfect, it’d never get out in the real world and get put to good use. The best way to learn is to put it out there and improve it rapidly based on your feedback.

ODL Site in 2014

ODL Site in 2014

Our first prototype of the site had a gorgeous card based view – much like Google’s Material Design. However, we rapidly found that browsing 440+ devices when you can only see about 12 isn’t really great.

The first version of the 2015 ODL Site

The first version of the 2015 ODL Site

From this card-based version, we moved the design to a listing view similar to the previous site, letting you toggle devices on or off your selection. This allows for more information to be tucked away in each row and allows for lots of colour into the page when you’ve selected your devices.

The current view of the 2015 ODL Site

The current view of the 2015 ODL Site

We’re going to be iterating and improving on this process as we receive feedback and we’d love to hear about your booking experience when you’re in the lab. Alternatively, feel free to drop us an email at [email protected] with your feedback or if you’re having trouble with the new system.