Challenge: Create the user journeys and design a new booking platform for end users, including a backend for administrators and dental practices.
Role: UX Design
Client: Dental Media
Often in UX Design you need to consider not only what will be the ideal experience for the user, but also what is possible. Sometimes this is defined by the order of questions the system needs to ask.
The user’s options for Question A can be depending on the options chosen for Question B and vice versa, at the same time. So, how do you create a good user experience for either path the user chooses, in a case where you want to the let the users decide wether to start with either Question A or Question B?
Creating a new platform for new clients to book dentist appointment this was our main challenge: If two different groups of users have two different views of what’s the best way through the system, then how do you make sure both groups are catered for?
Besides creating the end-user facing the project included UX and visual design for an admin backend to set everything up. The actual customers of the product are clinics and chains wanting to use the platform as part of their services.
We knew this much from the beginning: End-users know which dentist treatment they want before starting to book. So that step was easy: Present the choices with as much detail as is needed and a convenient overview.
It quickly became complicated after that: To some users picking the best option between a range of dentists is more important than the dates and times available for an appointment. They want to know more about the person who is doing the work. To other users, it’s the other way around. They look at the next available time first, and to some of these, it doesn’t even matter which dentist will be doing the treatment.
Insights like these about users are critical. Now, adding the fact that each dentist at any given clinic will take a different amount of time to complete a given treatment. Then imagine the complexity and the puzzle of options the user will be facing. No, wait! Don’t bother. It’s my job as UX Designer to solve this and make it simple for anyone. So we tried.
A third way to simplicity
Our solution was to start by showing an overview of the coming week with the start time for the available appointments as the visual foundation of the page. No need to show the length of the treatment, as they are almost always between 20 and 40 minutes and very few users need to know the exact length. We use the time to calculate when to show the next available option for each dentist, but we do not need to let the user consider this in the middle of all the other information.
Then as a second-level option on the same page, we offer the option to pick a dentist. It’s not required for the user to do this, but they can if they want to. This opens an overlay presenting all the available dentists in full detail, with bios, portraits, ratings, and other details that enable the user to make an informed decision.
Putting the second-level option just high enough in the visual hierarchy for the needing user to find it, we can keep the same visual foundation of available times in the coming week on the page. Then, when a user chooses a dentist, we simply hide the non-available start times, so only the available options for the chosen dentist remains. The user can the pick the preferred time.
This way we could serve both our major use-cases, without having to force either of them to follow a path designed for someone else.
I like to think of this, not as a compromise subtracting from the quality of the experience for a smaller group to the benefit of the majority, but more like a third way, serving all users with a better alternative. This way everybody wins.
A two-sided platform
In this project doing both the admin and the end-user flow designs was a huge advantage. As a designer, you get a clear and deep understanding of what data is available and how it comes about. You can suggest adding additional data, and add where to ask for it, to make it the best possible experience for the admin users as well.
A key challenge in creating the Admin part was to figure out which types of users can access what, and to always seek to bring frequent tasks upfront and center.
I strongly believe that making tools like these simple to the user makes their day better, makes the work better, and ultimately increases the value for any company caring about their employees. The key to keeping employees happy is meaningful work and having great tools to do it with.
A flexible visible design framework
Additional challenges included creating a simple visual design frame, that could be refined and expanded upon. Both as we worked along with the project, and as fina clients for the platform will have different needs.
- Creating a clean and modern look Meeting the standards of end-users and the standards of the industry.
- Making room for multiple identities and for business clients to make the platform their own. Finding the key areas of branding, the main elements and allow businesses to take ownership and change these.
To solve this, for the end-user facing journey, I created a simple, minimalist design with room for dental practices to add their brand colors and logo. A non-controversial starting point, with anonymous branding elements and modern and clean fonts.
Like an empty office space, ready to move in and take over.
Case photo by The Humble Co.
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