What my client wanted
My client recently acquired the ownership of a Chicago-based nail salon. To promote the change of ownership, he would like to redesign the salon's website, as well as add a simple-and-easy online booking system.
Why use an online booking system, anyway?
Before, the only option for a customer to take an appointment was to call the salon directly. Certain inconveniences are associated with phone calls: for example, you can only talk to one customer (and book one appointment) at a time; there could be no staff available to answer the phone and the customer has to wait.
Moreover, my client's major concern was that the staff were handwriting the appointment information in a notebook, and sometimes the information got misplaced or lost. He hoped the online booking system would become a better bookkeeping alternative.
Besides, he hoped that the new online booking feature would attract more customers from younger generations, as they are more comfortable doing everything online.
Technician or time, which should be the first?
Since a customer needs to pick up a time and a technician, which one she picks up first would affect the online booking workflow. I quickly illustrated some low-fi prototype to show the pros and cons of each approach to the business owner:
Here is the actual low-fi workflow that I used for the discussion with the business owner:
In the end, we decided to take the "technician first" route. In the nail salon business, technicians receive a bonus for each customer they have. As a result, technicians work hard to maintain a good customer relationship and would love to see their customers return.Therefore, the owner wanted the booking system to reflect that preference.
Theoretically, we could also use “select time and technician at the same time” option, but the business owner was concerned about the time spent on implementation. Since he wanted to test run the online booking system first, he decided to go for a simpler option.
It was an engaging and exciting three-week period where I would rapidly illustrate some ideas, go for a discussion with the business owner, receive quick feedback, and then go back for design iteration. How fun! Also, it is interesting to see how the real world business model influences the design of a digital system. A moment like this makes me appreciate my job, as it provides me an opportunity to see a piece of other people’s life which I probably wouldn’t get to know otherwise.