A Digital Calm with Dehart Bodywork
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 within the constraints of a small business with a sole proprietor.
Using a clear and consistent content strategy, layout, and minimal design, reflect the business' goals for clarity and connection by creating a website that allows customers to easily navigate and locate their desired information to book massage service.
Learning along the way
better Understanding of Customer motivations
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 this survey, my client and I discussed typical reasons 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).
My client was surprised to find that most responders leaned heavily towards booking massage sessions in Group A versus Group B. 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 what my client was trying to better understand about her customers motivations. If I were to continue working with my client, I would recommend scheduling interviews with past customers, so we can dig deeper into thorny questions like these.
First Try resulted in zero survey responses
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.
Lesson Learned: For the second the version of the survey, I shortened it to be one page long and 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%.
Supporting the needs of a sole proprietor
A realistic content strategy
After reviewing each page of the website, the content and layout became a clear area for improvement to meet usability best practices. I knew I needed to:
- Create an easy to digest layout; utilizing titles, bullets, whitespace, and smaller text chunks
- Ensure copy is in a consistent tone that reflects the site's purpose and goals
- For practitioner pages (which change from time-to-time), create templates and forms to ensure appropriate content is provided and the layout remains the same.
Understanding the time and cost constraints, and technical limitations for my client was vital to developing a strategy that would work for her in the longterm.
Less is 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, we 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.
We narrowed down the list to 17 options, separated into 5 subcategories. As Nielsen Norman Group states, "simplicity wins over abundance of choice."
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.
Ever present constraints
My client had received feedback that her booking system is at times difficult to use. Unfortunately, it's not a quick-fix to make it better. All of her customer's information is managed through an external CRM that also handles her bookings. We explored alternate management systems to meet her needs. Transitioning over will be a longer process than my engagement with her, so the current booking option must remain as is for the time being. In an effort to minimize frustration at present, I included a link directly to the booking site in the event someone is having trouble.
A clear & consistent site encourages a calm mind
structured & digestible information
The survey indicated that the practitioner's trainings and certifications were important to customers. For my client, she also wanted customers to book with other practitioners besides herself. 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
- Booking link included on each practitioner page
Looking ahead: I created a template for my client to use for updating her website with additional practitioners. And to make her life even easier, all the questions are in a Google Form, that she can email to the practitioner to fill out – so all she has to do is cut and paste the information in! What saves her time, also saves her money.
Clear navigation to reaffirm where you 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
clarity that leads to relaxation
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 the sole proprietor to easily and efficiently manager and update her website with a better understanding of her customer needs going forward.
This was an interesting project to work on due to some interesting business constraints. I enjoyed creating ways for my client to be able to easily and quickly update her website on her own going forward. 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.