Putting ZocDoc To The Test: A Usability Study

There’s a lot to love about ZocDoc. It takes a system that’s rife with human error, and offers a frictionless, digital alternative.

In general, the ZocDoc mobile app delivers on its promise. However, a handful of user tests reveals a few areas for improvement.

OBJECTIVE

My goal was to identify usability issues within the primary functions of the ZocDoc mobile app.

TESTING

I recruited a handful of users in their 20’s (mainly in parks and cafes) to test out various tasks on the mobile app. None of them had used the app before. Tasks included:

  1. Booking an appointment through ZocDoc.
  2. Rescheduling their existing appointment.
  3. Contacting the office prior to an appointment.
  4. Task 3 Alternate: Leaving feedback about a previous visit.*

I gave my users specific medical scenarios that called for each task. That way, they could focus on the app instead of coming up with a backstory.

* The alternate task resulted from switching from using my personal ZocDoc account (which has previous appointment data) to a dummy account with no previous appointments. I made the switch following the first two tests. Since the remaining users easily found the doctor’s contact information, this change did not impact my conclusions.

FEEDBACK SYNTHESIS

During and after the interviews, I amassed a collection of pain points, quotes, and user attributes.

My initial notes were stream of consciousness.

I eliminated duplicates and zeroed in on each user’s key problem areas. I sorted these two ways:

Pain points sorted by issue.
Pain points sorted by task.

FINDINGS

“Oh, I definitely can’t do 5:00.”

I observed a behavior worth noting in my users. While every user said that the best doctor for them would have the most stars and best reviews, this wasn’t reflected in their booking decisions. Every user prioritized fitting the appointment into his or her existing schedule.

Users completed their tasks with varying degrees of success. One user made an appointment for the wrong day without noticing; others left off their insurance provider. All users struggled in some way with the initial booking. I’ve listed three key pain points in order of priority:

  1. HIGH INITIAL ASK. (4 out of 5 users)

“Hmmm… I’ll just pay by myself.”

This pain point involves the complex ZocDoc input form. Users must choose from long, non-searchable, multi-level lists of insurance providers, specialists and illnesses. Some users scrolled past their insurance providers, while others waffled over what to call their specific injury.

Recommendation: Make all form lists searchable and ask for injury details later on in the workflow.

2. DECEPTIVE HEADERS. (3 out of 5 users)

“I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to click.”

ZocDoc designates clickable items with flat green buttons. However, confusing CTA’s drew users’ eyes away. Some users attempted to click non-clickable headers based on their labeling.

Recommendations: Replace deceptive CTAs with more accurate word choice.

3. UNAVAILABLE DOCTORS. (3 out of 5 users)

“There are no appointments available… so I’ll have to use the next [doctor].”

For most searches, more than half of the listed doctors were not available on the day requested. Some users did not notice this right away, and invested time in reading their bios and ratings. This lead to disappointment and hasty decision making later on.

Recommendations: Remove unavailable doctors from search results, or use a more noticeable visual marker to indicate that they are not available.

DESIGN SUGGESTIONS

Fortunately, many of the problems above are quick fixes. Users want to search for doctors more easily, find a doctor who is available, and click on the right spot to make an appointment. I took the path of least resistance with my designs:

Design 1: Searchable Lists.

Adding a search bar to the top of long, nested lists cuts down on a first-time user’s initial investment.

Design 2: Renaming Headers.

Renaming the active “Book Appointment” to the more passive “Available Appointments” makes it clear that it is a header and not a CTA button.

Design 3: Changing Text Color.

Red text attracts the eye, immediately letting users know that if they want this doctor, they will have to wait for an appointment. I suspect ZocDoc has a user-driven reason for including unavailable doctors in the results list, so I’ve left them in.

NEXT STEPS

This usability test was based on a specific persona: the busy, young, metropolitan person who has not used ZocDoc before. As an avid ZocDoc user, I’m also curious about those who use the app regularly — what their needs are, and if they are being fully met.

Note: I do not work for or represent ZocDoc, and the above is an unsolicited usability study. I study Product Design under Zac Halbert and Kate Rutter @Tradecraft.