In September 2018, Natasha opened her own salon. As her business grew and she took on new customers, manual booking started taking too much time and customers still didn’t appreciate Natasha’s schedule. So problem emerged: how can she build trust with new and current customers and reduce the time spent on booking appointments?
Naturally, the booking experience should somehow be digitized so customers can book at any time of a day and not distract Natasha from her work and personal life.
One of the initial requirements was to use wix.com platform. Natasha did her research on website platforms in terms of price and ease of use, and as the wix.com platform fit the extremely low budget she had for this project, she ultimately insisted on creating a website on this platform. Wix.com has absolute freedom in terms of design but quite limited in modifying task flow which is very big constrain in creating user experience.
The other constrain was I was only one on the team and my coding knowledge is limited so I had to rely on technologies that don’t require coding.
As a former UX/UI student at Austin Community College, I was inspired by IBM Design Thinking approach and decided to adopt it into my freelance work. It means focusing on user, creating for user and being able to make changes on any stage of the project.
( Because I work alone, I’m still not a big user of sticky notes which is not really what Design Thinking about.)
For better understanding of the situation, what I already know, what I think I know, and what I need to find out, I decided to start with the Question and Assumptions exercise, which then became interview questions.
Questions and Assumptions
- Clients want to create an account to make a booking and see their booking history.
- Online payment is a great idea and will save time for both clients and the business.
- Clients won’t read Policy on website.
- Clients need more information about the services provided by the business.
I completed eight user interviews with current and potential future clients who were users of other places or planned to try Natasha’s place. After synthesizing the data, these themes emerged:
- Clients don’t want to create an account and deal with having a username and password for such a simple task as booking an appointment for nail treatment. They don’t even have a need to have access to a history of their appointments because it is “just nails.”
- Clients were indifferent to online payments. They actually prefer to pay after services are provided.
- Even though the business owner could reduce the amount of cancellations by charging up front, she didn’t want to implement it in this case because customers won’t leave tips.
- Clients indeed do not read policies! However, there are some very important policy paragraphs that clients need to be aware of, so we need to address it during the design stage.
- Current clients don’t need any information about services as they already know. Future clients rely more on referrals, testimonials and, more importantly, photos.
The target user
After conducting interviews, the scope of the insight from the users’ answers helped me create a single, clear persona.
The client’s target audience generally appear to know what services they desire and aren’t necessarily swayed by ‘bells and whistles’ such as interactive media and features they currently have no desire for.
As wix.com states, it has “The Freedom to Create Anything” without knowing any coding. Having this in mind, I started sketching sections for a landing page out with pen and paper not working about how I’m going to implement my design.
This helped us see exactly what we really needed to have on the landing page, the order of the sections, and what could actually be put on a separate page so customers are not overwhelmed with information.
Even though you have freedom with the design, some processes are predefined and there is no way to change them. And unfortunately, booking is one of them. To figure out the process of booking that wix.com provides, I created a test service. The problem I encountered right away was that there is no way to integrate an “agree with terms and conditions” checkbox on any stage of booking. Moreover, there is no way to add any additional wording to inform a client about specific aspects of a booking. After discussing it with Natasha, we decided to add a notice in the booking confirmation email.
The Nail Art House provides four main services, two combinations of them, and variety of secondary services (add ons) to choose from. Each main and secondary service have different durations, from three hours to 5 min, as well as different prices, so it’s important to be able to choose everything in one booking in order to calculate total time and price. To my surprise, wix.com didn’t provide such functionality at that moment. (They were collecting votes for it though so maybe this feature now exists.) We didn’t want to compromise on the user experience because we knew it would create more frustration and more problems for customers and for the business as well. At this point, we decided to switch the platform and choose WordPress CMS.
WordPress and free hosting
The intention of using free hosting was to save money as much as possible. And it did work for the first month. However, once we launched the website and clients started booking appointments, everything changed. The server where the website was hosted wasn’t accessible for two or three hours each day exactly during peak hours.
Note for me: Never ever even look towards free hosting.
Obviously, we had to switch to more reliable and stable hosting. After some research, comparing different providers and reading reviews, we selected SiteGround.com.
WordPress and plugins
The beauty of the WordPress CMS is that you can add features to your website without knowing a single line of code, the CMS itself if free, and there are a lot of plugins available for free and even more obtainable by purchase. There are thousands available for free at the official WordPress plugin directory.
I was able to find the right theme that had all the sections we had in mind for the landing page: Belleza salon. Additionally, we were extremely lucky to find the free booking plugin, Salon Booking that has the exact functionality we were looking for.
The user-friendly features of WordPress along with the ability to add free plugins, proved it to be the CRM required in order to accomplish everything desired and needed by this client and project.
The Nail Art House already had a logo and the studio was decorated in pink and gray colors. Therefore, the website was going to need to compliment them both.
To achieve good matching colors, I used color.adobe.com. The main pink was sampled from the client’s logo.
The color matching worked exactly as desired, providing a palette that mirrored the client’s logo and store design.
Quicksand is a free Google font and is a display sans serif with rounded terminals. This font complements Natasha’s style and designs she creates at work.
The client loved this font, so I decided to go with just a single font family. It has different faces so I had plenty ways to highlight important information.
Icons communicate ideas and concepts instead of communicating with words or pictures, helping us to better understand and quickly interpret information. Online icons can help us support content, increase readability, and draw attention to specific products, services, or other desired areas.
I created icons for the Nail Art House to showcase different services it provides.
With an understanding that evergreen content is essential to a website’s success, we looked at the options for images and illustrations. After reviewing several available options, we set up an Instagram photo stream in order to keep the website updated with fresh photos.
Pulling together the client’s needs and desires and utilizing the tools necessary to accomplish them, while staying within the requisite budget, was an educating endeavor. With an investigating, testing, and collaboration with the client, we were able to meet and even exceed her goals and expectations with the final design.
In the first three months of the website going live, Natasha obtained so many new clients that she wasn’t able to handle them all. As such, she decided to hire another master and at this point, she is booked for two months in advance!
Though the client started with certain expectations regarding which platform would best suit her needs, with careful planning, testing and collaboration, we were ultimately able to find the exact combination of tools with the best design in order to completely accomplish her goals.