Mountain Health Website Case Study

This case study discusses the methods and design of a team of students from RED Academy in Vancouver. Our team consists of 4 UX/UI students working to develop the responsive website for a naturopathic clinic.

The Opportunity

Mountain Health is a new naturopathic practice run by Dr. Amanda Chay. They offer a wide range of testing and treatment options that include both allopathic methods (such as pharmaceuticals and standard blood testing) as well as more a natural approach (such as herbal supplements and acupuncture). As a naturopathic practice, Mountain Health’s goal is “to educate and empower patients regarding their health so they can feel full of energy and in control of their symptoms”.

As a new practice, Mountain Health had no digital footprint. Understanding the importance and necessity of having a website and supporting social media accounts, Dr. Chay came to us to develop a website that could be used across desktop and mobile devices. The website needed to be a place where current patients could get more information, as well as a place for prospective patients to learn more about Mountain Health and naturopathy. It needs to excite, engage, and educate people to take control of their health. As a business, the goals of the website include:

  • Develop an online presence to share Mountain Health’s vision and expertise
  • Be a platform for client referrals. A place for existing clients to send potential clients.
  • Generate appointments to expand Mountain Health as a business

Research

Prior to learning about our user, we wanted to make sure we understood more about naturopathic landscape and a deeper level what Mountain Health wanted to achieve. We learned naturopathy combines traditional treatments with modern medicine. The emphasis is on balance, connection, and treating health as a whole, not as a single set of symptoms. Additionally, the education requirements to become a naturopathic doctor are similar to a MD in terms of years of training and foundational education requirements.

Looking from a high level perspective, Mountain Health was founded in the belief that:

  • Everyone is unique and deserves individualized treatment
  • Body has a natural desire and ability to heal itself

We looked at both allopathic and naturopathic clinic websites to compare the features and topics covered to understand what is common, and also what might be missing.

Once we had become a bit more familiar with naturopathy in general, and with the goals of Mountain Health, we focused on figuring out who is our user. Rather than going through a checklist of deliverables to produce, we thought of the key questions we wanted answered:

What problems does the user currently face?
What are their fears and frustrations?
What are their goals and motivations?
Do they have any current barriers? And how are they currently working around them?

With this focus, we identified tools would be the most helpful in answering these questions.

Survey

We created a survey to and sent it to naturopathy focused Facebook groups, chronic pain support groups throughout Canada, and our client sent it to other naturopathic doctors to forward to their mailing list. In the end we received 84 responses — a mix of those you have received treatments before and those haven’t.

We received responses from mostly women, which is inline with other studies that show women are more likely to receive naturopathic care than men.

We also found:

  • People are seeking a greater depth of knowledge about naturopathy
  • They need confidence in the treatments, that they are effective and that there is evidence showing it’s effectiveness
  • Diet and lifestyle were seen as key components to good health, from both groups
  • Cost was a major barrier to using alt med treatments, and reduced cost was an identified key motivator for those who already use alt med treatments
Responses from those who haven’t received treatment before
Responses from those with previous experience with naturopathy treatment

Interviews and Affinity Diagrams

Another key tool we used was interviews. We interviewed 6 different people who have experience working with naturopathy treatments and discussed their experience in changing their health. Afterwards, we used affinity diagrams to process the key insights we found.

The results from the interviews the included the following insights about our user:

  • Again, people are seeking a greater depth of knowledge about naturopathy
  • Desire to be in control and have options for health treatments
  • Again, they need confidence in the treatments, that they are effective and that there is evidence showing it’s effectiveness
  • Values balance in life — looking to optimize
  • Again, Diet and lifestyle were seen as key components to good health
  • Feels that health is personal, they aren’t comfortable sharing this information on social media, but will share with close friends in person or via email
  • Again, cost is a concern, but those who currently see a naturopathic doctor sees the value of the treatment
  • At the beginning, they all turned to naturopathy because they were desperate to feel better and weren’t seeing results with their MD

The overlap between the two results sets informed where we wanted to place the focus of our design:

  • Seeking knowledge
  • Confidence in treatment effectiveness
  • Importance of diet and lifestyle
  • Awareness that cost is a major barrier

Planning

We took this information and consolidated it into user personas. As we designed for both the user who is unfamiliar with naturopathy, as well as the user who is already a patient, we created 2 personas based on our data.

Our first persona was Sarah Newcastle. Sarah has suffered with chronic neck pain for many years. She is still working with her family MD, but is frequently in a lot of pain. Sarah and her husband have two kids, one who is in college and the other will be graduating soon. While her and her husband both work and consider themselves in the middle class, she is worried about paying for medical care outside of her MSP while funding two college students. She also is a part of a close knit neighborhood. Between time spent with family, friends, and work, Sarah doesn’t have much time to spare. However, she is desperate to find a real solution to her neck pain, and is willing to try anything that might help.

This desperation is a driving factor of her goals and frustrations.

Goals

  • To live without pain.
  • Gather information on available treatments.
  • Spend more time with her family.
  • Travel with her husband. — use to be social

Frustrations

  • Has pain, even with current medical care. It has been going on for a long time and is getting in the way of her daily life.
  • Can’t afford a continually high cost treatment. With two kids who are around college age she are worried about all upcoming costs. Paying too much for treatments is a major concern.
  • Has a very busy schedule. The constant medical visits make her already tight schedule even more complicated.

Our second persona is Nithya Watson. She has grown up with traditional and modern medicine as a part of her heritage. She is open minded, family focused, health driven, and values knowledge. Nithya has had a rough time lately at work. She is run down and feels like she is losing control of her priorities. She feels like she needs to regain balance. She can normally get by with self-treating using natural and traditional methods, but this time she needs help to manage. Nithya knows of a local naturopathic clinic, Mountain Health, and wants to see if it will be a good fit to help her achieve balance.

Goals

  • Maintain balance
  • Optimize health
  • Avoid unnecessary medication

Frustrations

  • She is frustrated with people who aren’t open-minded or don’t collaborate/cooperate
  • High cost of alternative medicines

Design

As a team we developed our design inspiration using a design inception worksheet. Drawing from the key insights of our research we identified a summary statement for the why behind our future design choices:

Helping people achieve balance using empathy, natural techniques, health improvement, and expertise, so that the user is in control of their life.

We want to create a calm and natural environment to express a relaxed and positive experience. From identifying the reason users would seek naturopathy, we derive these mood keywords.

From mood, we broke it down into space, colour, texture, movement, and shape.

Our UI team members then developed their style guide and elements based off of these, with an emphasis on organic, rounded, balanced shapes and forms.

On the UX side, we referred to the key insights from interviews and survey, as well as the information from comparing 12 other naturopathy and medical websites, and analyzed how they categorized their information. We created different sections we wanted to include:

  • About Us
  • About Naturopathy
  • New Patients
  • Conditions
  • Services
  • Resources
  • Articles
  • FAQ
  • Newsletter sign up
  • Community
  • Testimonials
  • Comments
  • Contact Us
  • Book an appointment online

We went through a few iterations of design, from low-fidelity paper to mid-fidelity digital, as we were aligning with our design direction, to reach a fully testable prototype.

Wireframe developement

Testing

While we thought our designs would be effective, we wanted to make sure they worked for the user as we designed. When we created our survey, we asked if people were open to further contact, and from that opt-in list we reached out to those who fit well with our user personas tested our designs.

A few key results from several rounds of testing:

  • Almost every time, the first place people went first was the About section, so we wanted to keep this section informative and engaging
  • there was some confusing over a section just called “articles” as to what kinds of articles we meant
  • We got confirmation that several designs were effective, such as an overall feeling of friendliness and competence from the design and content
  • The information felt deep but not overwhelming or trying too hard
  • Breadcrumbs are needed, especially in the sections with more content
  • The sections within “what we do” felt text heavy and too boxy

Iteration

Here is an example of an early iteration of the treatment page and having too much content upfront. We solved this by letting people select the content for which they are looking, and only showing that information.

We also changed boxy sections into more image based exploration of the content. Allowing for a more reader friendly design and a discovery of “what is naturopathy”.

Based on testing we also made the following changes:

  • “About Naturopathy” section became the home page
  • New patient on boarding went from it’s own section to be spread out in the website as needed
  • Community became “News + Events”
  • Comments were removed as it did not test well and wasn’t something people felt comfortable using.
  • Conditions were included in the experience of Dr Chay and MH
  • FAQ were removed as we felt this would be best served once the practice had been more established and could be developed more organically based off of actual patient questions.

Summary

By really understanding the needs of those who are researching naturopathy for their own lives, we discovered some unique motivations and pain points. By focusing on providing a website with adequate but not overwhelming information, creating a place for information resources to grow, and offering transparency of treatment methods and costs, we tried to find a digital solution for Mountain Health that is not only usable, but delightful for the user.

Ideally, we would like to continue to work with Mountain Health and follow up later and optimize the website. While the main direction of the calls to actions were to lead to booking an appointment, we’d like to see the results from our efforts and continue to improve the experience.

Check out the Mountain Health Desktop Prototype: https://invis.io/TA9HOJ3CB