Network Locum is a Shoreditch-based startup that provides an online marketplace where NHS practices can hire GPs for shift work.
Due to the complex and idiosyncratic rules and habits among NHS groups, it is a rather manual process for Network Locum when it comes to passing payment from practices to GPs. This is tedious and error prone, but most of all it is not scalable. The company needs a much more automated, streamlined and user-friendly approach to handling payments, and this is where I lent a hand.
This was an opportunity to flex my interaction design muscles in the face of unusually complex business and user requirements. There was a lot of wireframing, and a I spent a lot of time talking to end-users.
In addition, the look-and-feel of the site was in need of an upgrade. It needed to move away from the disorganised and noisy lines, gradients and shadows that dominated the page towards a visual design that got out of the way to let users complete their tasks.
The work began with speaking to GPs and practices to find out about their pain-points when using the service and to gauge their reactions to some of the ideas that Network Locum had been brewing. Then with a good sense of what the users wanted, we began to explore different ideas and technologies that could be part of the solution.
Network Locum are very close to their customers (GP and practices), who were very excited about helping. I lead interviews, usability studies and review sessions which I documented and shared with the rest of the team, and which informed the direction of the designs. When it wasn’t feasilbe to meet in person, we used Join.me and Skype screen sharing, which are excellent tools for remote testing.
The most importat ethnographic research was with NHS practices to understand how their organisations ran, and how Network Locum’s services could best be designed to fit in with them. The insights we gained with this research technique were invaluable.
Sketch App makes it easy to work rapidly with wireframing and visual design, and I found that by quickly increasing the fidelity of the wireframes as I worked, I could develop a new visual style for the site whilst also working on the interaction design. Using Sketch’s symbols and shared styles, I could easily apply new design treatments to previous designs. This meant that after a month of iterating on the interaction, the new visual design language was also complete. Then, using InVision, it was simple to convert the designs into clickable prototypes that could be tested, shared, annotated and put into development.
It is sometimes the case that a designer should keep wireframes very rough so that when they’re being critiqued people focus on layout and functionality rather than colour and typography. But this project dealt with something very sensitive: money. And lots of it. I felt that presenting fully-fledged designs to users would evoke a more accurate reaction from them. In doing so, some of the responses we got were along the lines of “Yes, I would sign up for that because it looks trustworthy”. Had we been presenting quick and dirty sketches, the users may have rejected the idea. It is useful to know what level of fidelity is appropriate for a given project or audience.
We were able to implement a number of ideas that brought huge gains for GPs and practices. We had some users literally shouting for joy when they saw some of the features we’d created. The intense design sprint culminated in a set of prototypes that documented the following:
A new, clear visual design language that improved the perception of the website’s professionalism and trustworthiness.
A new invoicing system that treats invoices like the start of a conversation between the sender and the receiver. GP invoices are automatically generated and send to practices, meaning GPs no longer have to manually create and submit their own invoices for each shift.
Practices now automatically receive the GPs’ generated invoices and have an interface where they can easily approve or dispute them. Invoices always have a clear status and are automatically paid after two weeks. The GP always knows what’s happening with an invoice and never has to chase. We’ve transformed invoicing from a lengthy manual process to one where the GP doesn’t have to even think about it.
GP pension forms are automatically e-signed and sent to the practice along with the invoice. Practices can e-sign and return the pension forms with one click instead of having to print them off, sign and post them. Pension forms used to be the biggest nightmare for the practice, but this is no more.
Integrated 1-click payments with GoCardless instead of emails, phonecalls and creating and uploading .CSV files to online banking.