Taking our top off: Our special sauce
In 2006 we created the first standalone booking application for a client as a bespoke project and therefore we were able to let our creative minds run rampant. This unrestrained approach to building the User Experience (UX) forced us into creating a whole new Interface (UI). Conventional wisdom saw us using a classic calendar style that showed the whole month or, at it’s best, the next 6 weeks.
This seemed so restrictive for booking appointments and also felt like too much choice. Recently we had discovered that reducing choice for site visitors helped both conversation and the visitor – by simplifying choice. The problem, as ever, was about decided what choices the visitors would want. This is tantamount to Google producing search result that they think will suit the searcher and the search phrase. It was tricky.
So we re-sliced the calendar thinking and produced a simple SUGGESTED APPOINTMENTS option. Showing just 4 slots versus the 500+ that were available in the next 6 weeks looked risky but the result was a stunning success. The combination of simplicity, de-cluttering and pushing the appointment generated a 50% uplift in conversions over the conventional calendar and list methods.
But we could do better, I was sure. We just had to find the magic combination of dates and times to make the visitor think “hell, yes, that’ll suit me nicely”. So we started testing and playing around with different types of time slots and came up with an interesting list of common sense slots that, universally, calendars seem to ignore the world over.
- Immediately before work, near my office/place of work
- During my lunchbreak, near my office/place of work
- Immediately after work, near my office/place of work
- After work, before I get home, near my home
- After tea, near my home
- Saturday, near where I shop (non-working day)
- Sundays, near where I live (non-working day)
Important note: The testing was based on the premise that the visitor had to attend a place to do something.
This all now needs to be mapped using probability and available appointment slots. It’s a blackboard/whiteboard exercise. To make the selection of appointments ideal then we need to know a) working days b) non-working days c) location of work d) location of home e) working hours and f) shopping area. It’s pretty easy to calculate f based on home location and a and b are normally M-F and S-S respectively. In different parts of the country the (time) distance between c and d varies and can be factored in. Furthermore, the desire of folks to book generally drives them to an earlier appointment so we need to consider the soonest factor. Conversely, some folks will plan to to this after payday or when I come back from holiday.
All of these need to be factored in, weighted and then the top 4 most likely will be displayed. Execution is harder than it sounds but well worth it.
Roll the clocks forward to 2012 and the special sauce now has hundreds of components to try and get the best range of choices that are most likely to get the visitor to carry out a booking. We’ve also added a twist to the sauce. Clients can now have their own versions! Want to promote empty appointments slots? Push cheaper booking times? Tailoring the times is a little more complex to map out but worth the effort if you’re looking to squeeze every last drop from your site visitors.