P.S. — This post was NOT intended to be in parts, but then once I started I realized the scope merits to cover it in parts so that each part gets justice in comprehensiveness and completeness. Also to start with I am only taking stock of what exists (as a user and a designer) and not going into design proposals/solutions of what can be done to make it better. Though its tempting to start designing solutions, only when I understand the whole current offering and more importantly why its there from a user perspective, a much richer and thought through solutions tend to emerge. 

What — As a Product/UX Designer I am inherently and fairly critical of my experiences with Digital Products. More often than not I try to see where the experience(s) can be improved and on the other hand find delight whenever an app just works and the design feels obvious (Apple does it beautifully and its one helluva feat to achieve!).

Why Practo — In today’s age when everything is either done through an app (web/phone) it was surprising that as mundane a task as Doctor’s appointment was still done through Phone. This was painful to say the least for the following reasons —

  1. Slots were difficult to get.
  2. Lot of times the clinic’s/hospital’s phone was busy.
  3. The reputation of the Doctor itself was a grey area and only if it is referred to someone can one attest. Even then the experiences can get varied.

Enter Practo, they removed almost all the conventional/offline friction of booking a Doctor’s appointment and made it more or less online. (Though some Doctors/Clinics are still not fully online which seems more of a infrastructure issue as they need a system to check for appointments and so on.)

Other benefits :

  1. One can see what all slots are available
  2.  Doctor’s fees (this is not always accurate though which seems to be an update issue than an intent from Practo)
  3. Years of experience the Doctor has
  4.  Those who have visited the Doctor can also leave feedback about the Doctor. 2–3 doctors I visit I came to discover solely from Practo. Feedback especially is a very powerful influence in my experience.

First things first, I am very happy that Practo exist! They solved a genuine problem and functionality wise they have got the essentials covered. Or you can also say that they have a very good MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Though I will share some Functionalities (in the end) which I believe they should add and which will improve my experience.

But, their UX is far from perfect and there has been times when I have struggled to get the task done for which I had opened Practo in the first place.

Devices used — iPhone 6, Android (Lenovo K6) and a PC (to test their website). I have not tested the mobile version of their website as its not something which I use and nor seeing myself using much of.

So lets begin…

IA (Information Architecture)  — 

Imagine if everyday the position of your room in your home changes. One day its on the left side and another day its on the right. Or to take another example, a thing which you use daily doesn’t have a fix place and all so often you have to hunt for it. Not a very good thing eh?!

This is what is happening with Practo.

When I use it on the web or through their iOS App or through their Android App, there is no consistency (Picture below) in the IA. All 3 feels different and I feel lost switching between them.

Lets take elements of IA (iOS) individually (in this part I would be covering iOS only) —

iOS

Know — Frankly “Know” seems a very open ended and vague term. Know what? Is it about Practo, is it about Appointments or what should I need to know?
What it actually has is Articles on Health & Fitness. May be “Read” would be a better option or “Articles” or something like that.

This is what I see when I tap on Know —

I like the cards design they have used for each article with large fonts which are easy to read. The Like/Favorite is helpful as it gives a impression of how popular that article is, so far. Sharing icon right on top is handy to save it/email for later use. Though the icon size of Like/Favorite and Sharing feels very small. Slightly bigger would be better for people with bigger/thicker fingers.

Article View —

I instantly like this design as its easy on the eyes and with good use of white-space it doesn’t lead to clutter of content on the screen.

Author and their credentials are on top and hard to miss. Image on top makes it interesting.

Sharing icons(most often used I guess) are visible and thankfully not under some menu.

Though I do have some reservations to where its saved and whether one would remember to go there —

Luckily it at-least shows(toast message) where its saved and not left on the exploration of the user for finding it out. But once I go there and tap on back I am taken back to the above image. So there is no visual cue to know where exactly its been saved.

What could have worked better was to mention the whole path, in this case it comes under Me>Saved Articles.

What could have worked even better was to add a placeholder within the articles Screen itself so that its more easy to identify and remember. So whenever I access “Know”, I know where and what all articles I have saved.

Find — Another very vague name and considering its the landing page and the core use-case which is to book an appointment(s). Book\Book Appointments would have been ideal.

Fairly clear landing page with Search right on top, followed by Specializations and then Doctors I seem to have visited earlier. Not a very fan of “My Doctors” caption used. What they could have done was to show “Past appointments”, Upcoming appointments” if any, or something more clear.

Consult — 

First impression, is it a Live Chat? Which it is not. So the big CTA button should be rephrased to “Consult” or “Ask a Doctor”, etc. Otherwise it feels misleading.

Public Question is like a free forum where people can post their queries and various Doctors can respond to. Again, the text “Public Question” doesn’t seem quite right though I do not have an alternative in mind presently. 😐

Order — This is a new diversification by Practo where-in they have entered the Medicine Sales/Delivery stream.

What I would have preferred was to be able to Search for Medicine right from this screen. At present I need to do an extra step of “Order Now” to go to the next screen (which is incidentally and strangely only a Search Bar) and Search for medicine and other things to order/buy. The text also is repeating and seems to be rhetoric only to utilize the space. The offer/coupon code they can provide in the same screen where one can search. So essentially speaking this screen is an extra one and can be done away with.

Me  — This is the user profile section. It is further divided into 3 sections by using tabs.

Initial questions which came up after seeing and exploring “Me” section –

  1. Why is reminders here? It should be at an app level as I expect some Notifications.
  2. Records I assumed it was health record, why is Appointment history also here?
  3. There are two “Add Records”, if every appointment has a Record then what is there in the other “Add Record”.
  4. I would have preferred if Prescriptions and other Records are kept separately and may be categorized Doctor wise rather than categorized Appointment why which is the current design.
  5. What are Folders?
  6. I am not sure why Folders has things like Queries, Doctors, Health Interests and so on. Doesn’t seem logically grouped. I wont remember intuitively to come here for accessing my Health Interests.

In the forthcoming posts will share some design explorations on the Me/Profile page.

New Essential Features which will definitely enhance my Experience :

  1. Ability to add Family Members : Doctor appointments are usually either done by self or by a family member. Lets say I need to book a Dentist appointment for my wife, at present either I have to use her id and do it or use my ID but have to re-enter Patient details. Both are not the optimum experience. An ability to add Patient details from a list is very handy. Cleartrip does this and its such a time saver. Also on a mobile device, the less manual input the better.
  2. Add Favorites/Bookmark option : Sometimes we browse for doctors not for immediate need but because some one referred to for later use. At present there is no trace option unless we book an appointment. This is something like the Bookmark option Zomato has. This will also help to access our frequent doctors and book faster than searching for the same.

When we were expecting our baby (we have been blessed with a Baby Boy 🙂 ) , we found out a few Pediatricians in advance but then we lost track of them as didn’t remember their names and there was no option to retrieve the old searches back. If there was a Bookmark option I could have added them and referred to for later use.

That’s all for now…more coming soon.