Design can change the world, but the people, businesses, and organizations that need it the most typically have the tightest budgets. The great power of design comes with great responsibility to the community. We at Kaleidoscope see it as our duty to work with local non-profit organizations, when we can, at little to no cost.

Enter our partner Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). For those unfamiliar, RMHC is a non-profit organization with the purpose to improve the health and well-being of hospitalized children and their families. Its main program helps them access housing when they need to travel for medical care. Despite what the name suggests, the golden arches give minimal support to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Each house in the RMHC network independently runs its own fundraising, operations, and programming, which comes with many challenges.

The first challenge we tackled at the Cincinnati house is an experience that is often overlooked: the check-in. Yet, it has the most impact. People come to the Cincinnati location from over 180 countries; they are already stressed from having a hospitalized child, traveling, and being away from home. When we heard rumors about the long, tedious check-in process, we sent an undercover family to experience it ourselves.

Our undercover family consisted of our researcher (Ami, role: grandma), our bio engineer (Aaron, role: dad), and our information architect (Kelly, role: mom). Their tasks were to acquire a room, check-in, and check-out. After creating a plausible story about a sleep-deprived child involved in a study Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, we sent in our team to see what they would uncover.

The check-in process was as bad as the rumors claimed. Three hours after walking through the doors, our family endured lengthy paperwork, room shuffling, and an hour-long tour. With help from our partners in hotel operations and management, we mapped the steps in the process and determined the essential parts.

The end result: The Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati was able to implement a more efficient check-in/check-out process and improved the experience for their guests.