​​​​​​​Creating a lightweight service to make online booking easier
and more comfortable
The problem

My client, a small nail art studio, was having a pretty bad
time finding a scheduling service that worked for their needs,
didn’t confuse their clients, and didn’t cost a fortune every
month to maintain.

We tried a handful of services, but none of them was quite
what we were looking for. Knowing that what we needed
was relatively simple, we decided to design our ideal service,
and have that built for us instead.
A more human approach

Developers of the services we used were focused on adding
new functionality, and seemed much less interested in
usability and user comfort. They were stacking features on
top of features, making for more confusion and less clarity.
We decided we wanted a service that worked a little like a
chatbot: a persistent tool always present on the site that
would ask a series of simple questions, then schedule your
appointment for you, and you’d be on your way.
Research
Already familiar with the salon’s services, I listened to
conversations with clients as appointments were booked,
as well as consultations during appointments, to better
understand how to zero in on which services a client would
likely want based on the answers they provide.

This research led to a simple flowchart of questions and
answers, each path leading to a different service provided
by the salon. These were the questions and options we
would build into our bot to provide a more usable, more
comfortable scheduling service.

I used Twine, a tool typically used for text games, to map out
these questions before creating the wireframes in Balsamiq.
Usability testing
After drafting the first run of wireframes, we tested the
application on real people, both existing and potential
clients. Those familiar with the old scheduling service were
all visibly delighted by the new approach, and we were able
to validate a lot of ideas, as well as trim a few things that
weren’t as necessary.

Screen mockups
Finally, we were confident enough to create the visual
mockups, for both desktop and mobile web.

I figured a future service might let users select from a variety
of salons, so I came up with some early versions of an app
that would provide a list of salons in the area, followed by
the same scheduling service.
But for now, we’re keeping it simple and just building a no-frills
scheduler. No payment processing, no image uploads,
no team management.

Exactly what the client needs right now.
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