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Filtering by Category: Portfolio

ZocDoc: Persona to Prototype


* I am not affiliated with ZocDoc in any way. I'm just a fan of the work they do. 

Last week, I tested the basic functionality of ZocDoc, and made a few “quick-fix” suggestions. This week, I’m taking a closer look at a specific feature that all of my test subjects struggled with: the ZocDoc search form. All of the users I interviewed last week either labored over or skipped the scrolling lists on the search form. So I suggested a search feature for both lists--particularly for the insurance list. However, I wanted to know if this would actually help users, or if there’s a better way to assist them.

Preliminary Research

I ran a series of micro-tests with users who fit my original persona (young, busy and more or less healthy). I assigned my users one task: find your insurance plan using the current ZocDoc system. Out of seven users, three found their carrier but not their plan, three couldn’t find their carrier or their plan, and only one was able to find both easily.

When trying to find their plans, users took a couple of different routes. Some of them considered which state they got their insurance in; others knew they had a PPO, but weren’t sure which one. Still others had enough information to actually find their plan, but scrolled past it because of naming inconsistencies within the ZocDoc system.

The bottom line? People within my persona often have limited information about their coverage, and a name search feature may not help. I decided to develop a way for them them to narrow their options.

IA and Getting Organized

The ZocDoc search form features over 400 health care providers, each with up to 10 plans. Users can only scroll alphabetically through providers and plans.

My first step involved cleaning up and reorganizing the insurance provider list. I proceeded according to the information that my users had about their insurance:

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  1. All of my users knew the state in which they got their insurance.
  2. Half of my users knew whether they had a PPO, an HMO, a POS, or an EPO.
  3. A couple of my users knew the difference between a managed care plan, a medical discount plan, and medical insurance.

To get the information organized, I needed a little help. I hired Dawn from ODesk to research the states in which each insurance provider is available. Dawn delivered an excel sheet outlining what’s available where--a key piece in my project.

Sketching User Flows and UI

Ultimately, I wanted to allow users leverage what they do know to figure out what they don’t know--the specific name of their plan. I started with the state in which my users’ insurance was issued, with the intention to dive deeper later on.

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I developed two concepts: the first is a series of dynamic dropdowns, including the state issued. The second is a series of filters that narrow in on the insurance plan.

Wireframes & Prototypes

Using Dawn’s data, I created two types of prototypes: a functional (but unsexy) dynamic dropdown (states and providers only--not plans), and a clickable (but limited) wireframe.

Rough Working Prototype (download and view in Excel)

The purpose of this prototype is to test of users have an easier time finding their insurance provider if they can narrow their options by state first.

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Wireframe Prototype (view in browser)

The purpose of this prototype is to give users the actual click-through experience necessitated by this new information architecture.


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1: Home
2: Search New Doc
3: Insurance Not Selected
4: Browse States copy

Testing & Next Steps

I ran a few informal tests with each prototype. I noticed some of things:

  • Users with large insurance providers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaiser were able to find their providers faster when using the Excel prototype (versus ZocDoc’s current system).
  • Users expressed neutrality about the increased number of clicks required by the clickable prototype.
  • Even with the added state filter, users struggled to find their plans.

Based on my findings, I have a clear path going forward. The state filter helped some people; other filters could potentially help the rest. In the next installment, I’ll play around with a new iteration of my prototype, featuring a full array of filters.