My client manages her own massage business, DeHart Bodywork. She both practices massage as well as contracts with other practitioners to work out of her business. About half of her bookings occur through her website, but it has not been updated in several years.
Promote her massage business through an updated website that encompasses usability best practices, keeping in mind the constraints of a small business with a sole proprietor.
Using a clear and consistent content strategy, layout, and minimal design, I reflected the business' goals for clarity and connection by creating a website that allows customers to easily navigate and locate desired information to book massage service.
My client is the owner of DeHart Bodywork, where she manages all aspects of her business. She and I worked together throughout our engagement. Initially, she requested an updated website, but I soon realized she also needed a system in place and templates available so she could easily and quickly make website changes or additions to her website on her own.
Initial Research to Learn from the User
Working with my client, we determined using a survey would be the best place to start gathering feedback from her customers, since she doesn't see them all the time, but has their email addresses.
To better understand why DeHart Bodywork customers schedule a massage, we asked responders to rate different statements about what motivates them to book a session. While drafting the survey, my client and I discussed typical motivations for getting massage (relaxation, stress release, pictured below in Group A) as well as reasons specific to DeHart Bodywork's mission (connection to one's body, pictured below in Group B).
"[She] focused on my shoulder, which had recent sports PT work on it."
"The effectiveness of the therapy in pain relief."
"I was able to go to a really deep place of relaxation."
My client was surprised to find that most responders leaned heavily towards booking massage sessions based on more typical or commonly known motivations for receiving a massage (Group A). We discussed how using language associated with relaxation, pain and stress relief in communications or promotions may be more effective at relating to her customer's needs. I also considered whether the Group B statements may not have correctly expressed my client's mission. If we had time to dig deeper, I would schedule interviews with previous customers to better understand their motivations.
Earning every Survey Response
The first version of the survey I launched received zero responses. Back to the drawing board! So here's what I changed:
- The survey shouldn't be too long (or have the appearance of being too long). The initial survey had many conditional questions, and based on my client's knowledge of her customers, most would not have needed to answer each question (for example, not everyone had received a massage from every practitioner). Regardless, at the bottom of the first page of the survey, it showed 8% complete. Only 8%! That gave the impression that there were pages and pages to go. I didn't even want to complete it!
- Make the call to action and the benefit to the responder clear. The initial survey was sent in an email with several other topics and updates, so we hypothesized it may have been lost in the noise of the other content. Also, the benefit to the participant (i.e., what do they get out of it besides the kindness in their heart) wasn't as explicit or enticing.
For the second the version of the survey, I shortened it to be one page long with fewer total questions (and no conditional questions). The survey was emailed explicitly requesting feedback and a prominent and enticing discount was offered for a future massage service. With these focused changes, I was able to boost the response rate up to 4%.
Don't Overwhelm the User: Less can be More
One area I reviewed was the number of options available for booking a service. There were 35 different services offered in 6 subcategories. After reviewing the most frequently selected services, I found the first few options in the list were chosen far above the other options further down the list. Some never having been selected at all.
As Nielsen Norman Group states, "simplicity wins over abundance of choice." We narrowed down the list to 17 options, separated into 5 subcategories.
By paring down the choices, customers will have fewer options to navigate, making it easier for them to decide without fear of missing a better option, discouragement at feeling overwhelmed, or confusion about duplicate listings.
Offering the User Information in a Structured and Digestible Way
The survey indicated that a practitioner's trainings and certifications is important to scheduling a session. For my client, she also wanted customers to book with other practitioners besides herself as well as promote her business as a professional, therapeutic practice. With that in mind, I made the following changes to the practitioner pages:
- Consistent layout and content structure for easier digestion
- Utilization of whitespace and bullet points for better scanability
- Providing content specific to both user needs and business goals
- Call to action button is included on each practitioner page to encourage booking a session
I created a practitioner page template so my client can easily add new practitioners to her website. To further make her life even easier, all the questions are in a Google Form, that she can email to a new practitioner to fill out. All she has to do is copy/paste the information into the template – what saves her time, also saves her money.
Clear Navigation to Remind the User Where They Are
As the results survey suggested, customers are looking for massage as a way to relax and relieve stress. The last thing they want is to find themselves on a webpage and not know where they are or what they're looking at. The changes I made to address wayfinding included:
- Consistent titles to the beginning of every page to indicate what content is being viewed
- Utilize title and subtitles, lines and whitespace for better scanability
Website Clarity that Leads to a Relaxing Experience
The new DeHart Bodywork website now provides a consistent content structure and layout for easy navigation and wayfinding; it utilizing whitespace, bullets, and chunking for better scalability and content digestion; and is structured in a way that allows my client to easily and efficiently update. My client has a better understanding of her customer's needs.
"Working with Holly is easeful and incredibly productive. She redesigned both my business websites to be more streamlined for my clients through surveys and refining my content. The look and feel was cleaned up while still reflecting my previous style. She made sure to share the how-to steps as well so I can manage future changes. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with her and highly recommend her to my colleagues!" –Janet DeHart, owner of DeHart Bodywork
Reflecting on the Business Mission and User Preferences
I enjoyed working with my client and empathizing with her businesses mission. Empowering my client to be able to easily and quickly update her business' website on her own is a long-term benefit to her company. If this project were to go on longer, I would work with my client to interview some of her key customers, to get a better understanding about their motivations for massage. There might be larger questions around one's beliefs about holistic health or alternative therapies in general that might better explain motivations and provide more clarity about the results we received in the survey, and in turn better help my client connect with her customers.