Help Us Define a Feature: Availability Sign-Up Limits

This is the first in a series of posts on feature additions we are considering for TeamSnap. We’d like to give our customers a peek into how we decide on new TeamSnap features and solicit feedback and ideas. Read on, and please chime in with your comments!

One feature that our customers have often requested is the ability to limit the number of players who can sign up for a game or event. For instance, your hockey team might limit you to 13 active players for any game, so managers would like to take the first 13 people who sign up in the Availability tab.

We’ve discussed a couple different ways to implement this feature:

Option A: Hard Cutoff

Under this option, the online team manager could set the maximum number of players allowed to sign up for a game, and once that maximum is reached, no one else would be permitted to sign up. The advantage to this approach is that it is very cut and dried — if you come to the TeamSnap availability tab and 13 people are signed up, you know you’re out of luck. The disadvantage is there’s no waiting list — if someone is no longer available, there’s no one else signed up as a backup.

Option B: Date Stamping

A second option is to simply track the exact date and time that each person signs up, and show the team manager a list (in order) of when players signed up to play. Then the manager could simply notify the first 13 people that they were in for that week, and anyone who signed up after 13 would be out of luck. This approach also has the advantage of a built-in “waiting list.” If someone drops out, the manager knows who the next players are in line. The disadvantage is that players won’t necessarily have feedback that they have missed the cutoff, unless the system pops up a message (or otherwise indicates) when someone tries to sign up after 13 have already signaled their availability.

Hybrid Options?

We’ve discussed some sort of hybrid options that involve hard cutoffs plus a waiting list plus auto-filling as people drop out, but each of these seems to be much more complex in terms of interface. Auto-filling from a waiting list has its own set of challenges, such as the problem of when someone inadvertently switches their availability and finds themselves having lost their place in line due to their spot being auto-filled.

We are leaning towards the date stamping option, with some sort of feedback for people who sign up after the cutoff has been reached. We think this offers the most flexibility, least confusion and simplest possible solution. In either scenario, any teams that don’t want to have a cutoff would simply continue to use the Availability tab as they do now — by default, there would be no limits to signups.

What do you think?

Would you use a sign-up limit? Would date stamping meet your needs? How would you design this feature, keeping in mind the TeamSnap mantra of keeping the system as simple and as easy to use as possible. Preventing TeamSnap from getting too complex is at the core of our mission when creating new features, but at the same time we want to continue to offer improvments that make running a team even easier. Post your thoughts in the comments. Go!

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