Healthcare Management Co. specializes in high-value practice management software for therapists. HMC partnered with the Dialexa team to assist with enhancing the user experience of their flagship product, Therapy Space, which includes streamlined billing, scheduling, therapy notes, client portals, and top-notch training. 

HMC planned to upgrade Therapy Space to a modern React front end with the best possible user experience to effectively convert more users from a free trial to a paid subscription. TherapySpace will be the platform to consolidate other HMC products.

The first target to tackle was the Global Navigation of TherapySpace. The new navigation must be highly responsive, intuitive, and easy to use. New designs needed to consider existing users and their ability to learn the refreshed experience. Additionally, the product experience needs to accommodate both sole practitioners and those operating within a group practice.




This engagement was split up into two main phases: research and design. It was a fast-paced project, so there was quite a bit of overlap and the team divided and conquered! 

  • Defined Archetypes: Data drawn archetypes that represent larger user groups allowing us to empathize with users and focus on their needs. 
  • Competitive Benchmark: An evaluation of the current product to measure results against the industry. This research helps us understand the performance impact compared to competitors to make informed recommendations. 
  • User Testing & Feedback: Testing and validating the experience by gathering user feedback and presenting early prototypes and wireframes to users and stakeholders. Gathering these insights early will ensure we are iterating efficiently toward the user and business goals and making informed design decisions. 
  • Information Architecture: Thought-out and designed diagrams and schematics that serve as guides to map out the content and flow of information in the experience. 
  • Wireframes & Prototype: Wireframes are like blueprints, representing the experience with simple black and white UI, focusing validating the experience before applying high-fidelity design. 
  • Applied Design: A defined aesthetic of an entire experience with a few screens, using a fraction of the number of wireframes. A design system is also curated with reusable components that provide specifications to developers.










This dream team of amazing and talented women was a joy to work with! We really had the team divided, half focusing on the design activities and the other half focused on the research activities. Even though we were split in our specialties, we really all had our hands involved in all of the entire process! My main responsibilities were the competitive benchmark, information architecture, wireframes, and applied designs. However, I was still able to support the research activities of the interviews, archetypes, and usability testing. 


As stated previously, this was quite the fast-paced engagement! We needed to uncover a lot of insights and set the client up in the right direction to update the experience of TherapySpace. We had 7 weeks to handoff, and I'm amazed by the progress we made in that short time! 



Uncovering iNsights

Our first order of business was conducting stakeholder interviews. The goal for these interviews was to learn each stakeholder's expectations for the project, potential pitfalls, what success means to them, and any other important information they think we should know.

stakeholder interviews



workflow management

conversion/retention NEEDS

Even across many disciplines and roles, the team seems to be generally aligned on the strengths and weaknesses of HMC, as well as the hopes for the future. 

There are many different features and products, and multiple stakeholders mentioned a more simple approach. The goal is to make the experience much less complex, not only for the users, but also for the HMC team.

Many touched on not wanting these users to have to THINK. There is a uniform desire to create an effective and guided experience, leading users in their workflows, step by step. 

There is a need for better retention rates. Customers are enrolling in a free trial but not converting due to the difficult and confusing experience. We want to not only keep the loyal customers we do have but convert the more customers who are on the free trial.

USER interviews

Everything is just kind of everywhere.


After learning about the product's current experience from demos and the stakeholders, we started to venture into user interviews. We were fortunate enough to have access to the current customer base and incentivized individuals with a chance to win a $100 gift card from Amazon. This led to the opportunity of conducting 8 full hour interviews with therapists and practice owners that currently utilize Therapy Space for their practice management needs.

In these interviews, we asked a variety of questions to fully understand how users utilize the Therapy Space product. We inquired about the overall product experience, but also had the opportunity to dive into specific features like the onboarding experience, organization and admin experience, reports, billing, and scheduling. Since we were mostly focused on the overall usability and global navigation of this project, we organized the information we received in what was in scope for this specific timeline, and what was out of scope but needs to be considered for future work. This information was synthesized in the  affinity map shown below.

In order to gain quantitative research, we also asked customers to rate the overall ease of navigation, availability of key information, clarity of information, appearance, efficiency, and usability.

Device usage insights gathered from Pendo.


The team then summarized the user research and visualized these insights into three main archetypes to represent the audience clusters that utilize Therapy Space. It was important for us to keep the various users in mind, not just the therapists! Therefore, we landed on three archetypes: the Solo Practitioner, the Admin, and the Biller. Each archetype represents different roles, various points of entry into the product, and different practice sizes. We wanted to capture the overlap in user behaviors, attitudes, motivations, pain points, and goals. This goal led us to organize the user data in archetypes rather than personas to be more flexible and inclusive, rather than a specific human character.

COMPetitive benchmark

A competitive analysis was crucial our the research process. We needed to understand the landscape of solutions  to the foundation of the solution we were going to design. A competitive analysis provides strategic insights into the features, functions, flows, and feelings evoked by the design solutions of your competitors. By understanding these facets of competitors’ products, we were able to strategically design our solution with the goal of making a superior product and/or experience.

Therapy Space was measured against Simple Practice, Therapy Notes, Central Reach, Aloha, Rethink BH, and echoVantage EHR platforms to identify industry results. In parallel, participants from the user interviews were asked for information regarding the TheraNest platform and it’s Global Navigation to help us understand the performance impact, user’s pain points, and make better informed recommendations.  


  • Consistent top navigation for level1. 
  • Side navigation is scalable. 
  • Navigation is responsive. 
  • Inconsistent process flow that results in an illogical way. 
  • Lots of nesting that are a few levels or 3+ clicks deep.
  • No established pattern for the side navigation. Side navigation sometimes leads to more actions or turns into an information panel. 
  • Information hierarchy and content is not structured or organized clearly. 
  • The location of elements are inconsistent. There are not many entry points to the main functions from the dashboard (new patient, new invoice). 


  • Navigation is actually responsive! 
  • Top Navigation transition to side navigation via a hamburger Menu.
  • Side navigation is scalable across all devices. 
  • UI Element begin to stack.
  • InconsIstent flow/patterns/styling in the navigation on mobile.
  • Tap targets could be increased. 
  • Use of real estate could be improved on mobile.
  • The location of elements are inconsistent making it even harder to navigate on a mobile device.  


information architecture

I used the tool Optimize Workshop to create a card sorting activity that we sent to the current customer base of Therapy Space. The goal of this online workshop was to discover the users' mental models and allow those insights to guide us into designing an information architecture that matches the users' expectations.


Open card sorting: Users were free to assign whatever names they want to groups they’ve created with the cards in that stack. This allowed us to strip from the way the system is now and see if other category names are more intuitive for the users.
Defining the cards: We utilized Pendo, the inVision prototype, and the current state of Therapy Space to identify all of the pages and actions a user might land on. We ended up with 120+. Because of the risk of drop off, it is best practice to present 40-80 cards. We accomplished this goal by consolidating those pages into 63 cards.


We wanted to gain an understanding of how differently TheraNest users categorize items based on their roles: Biller, Scheduler, Therapist, Practice Owner, and Solo Practitioner. 


Many stakeholders mentioned the concerns of users that have used Therapy Space for a long time. We want to balance finding the right solution to keep new customers, while not shocking and losing our loyal customers.


The goal is to create a responsive global navigation system. While there is a desire to create a mobile-first approach, we want to validate that need by assessing how many users operate TheraNest on their mobile devices.


A user’s mental model might differ from another’s based on their practice size. We want to gain an understanding on what makes sense to small practices AND larger practices. 


Billing = Finances: Majority of participants paired the billing reports like Write-Offs, Claims, and Payments with other financially related items like Insurers and Invoicing. Their mental models reflect that all financially related items should go together under one umbrella. 
Dynamic Forms: 46 participants placed Dynamic Forms under Clients. Since this is where people typically add progress notes, it makes sense for the templates to belong in the same place. The second highest rating category for Dynamic Forms was Organization / Admin. 
Staff Belongs in the Org: 52 participants placed Staff Members under Organization / Settings. We want the main level items to be relevant to most users, and this is not useful for the Sole Practitioner or other certain roles.  
Reports Page is Too Large: At the time, the Reports was a page of only links. It was not scannable and the hierarchy was non-existent. Many participants placed certain reports in other areas of the system that make more sense to that category. For example, 47 users placed Login Audits in either Staff or Organization. Only 11 participants chose Reports. 
Referrals: 36 participants put Referrers under the Organization/Practice umbrella. A few put it in a category of “Marketing”. This term might make more sense to the user, and also gives more room to grow that capability of a user tracking their business. 


The card sorting activity  enabled us with invaluable insights that led to a whole new information architecture. In this new IA, we were determined to design an experience that allows the users to focus on their tasks, not on finding their way around.

In order to develop and design an intuitive and efficient Information Architecture, we first have to understand how our users interact with the product. Our hierarchy must revolve around what the users need on a daily basis. 


One of the biggest mistakes in IA design is not labeling things correctly. Users end up having to play a guessing game on where to find important information when the navigation and label items are unclear or not intuitive, wasting time and efficiency. 


Product needs and competitors change and improve over time. It’s important to consider how your product might evolve in the future. Creating navigation that is scalable and can adapt with feature updates is essential. 


Your pages should be clear, concise, and scannable. If there is too much information on a screen, it can be overwhelming and confusing for the user. When this is the case, the user might not know where to start and feel unguided and frustrated in the experience. 



Discoverability: We made an overall improvement in discoverability by placing similar items in proximity to each other. Users will no longer have to switch between multiple navigation umbrellas to look at different features and views of the same thing.
Findability: We received great insights from the Card Sorting and have now placed items to correspond with users’ mental models, making features and information easier to find. 
Labeling: While this has to be validated from usability testing, we renamed some items to be more recognizeable and familiar to the user. This eliminates the need for users to click on pages only to see it was not what they were searching for. 
Consolidation: We decreased the amount of pages by placing them as filter or toggle options. This organizes the structure of the platform better, while also eliminating option overload.


Once we landed on an initial pass for the new information architecture, it was time to start visualizing how this updated structure would look on screen. It's important to recall what the original state of the structure was. Therapy Space had both two stacked main horizontal menus and a left-side navigation menu. Then, as you got deeper into the application, you got a horizontal menu again. The hierarchy was non-existent and left users having to scan a lot of content to find what they needed. 


Because this engagement focused on the global navigation, our wireframes and designs really focused on the menu and structure of the screens. Therefore, the actual content was minimal! We improved the complexity of the navigation by eliminating a level 4 menu altogether. We incorporated a multi-level action button that allows the user to intuitively add a note, appointment, document, etc. In the main navigation menu, we created dropdowns that house different pages within an overall category, creating the ability to focus on tasks without being distracted by too many options when navigating throughout the platform. 


two main horizontal menus

L1, L2



left-side menu


horizontal menu


horizontal tabs


left-side menu

horizontal tabs

applied designs


Therapy Space already has an established customer base, and we did not want to change things too much and shock the existing users. Therefore, we took the existing color palette as a base and changed it slightly to fit the desires of the new platform. We wanted the new platform to be a stress-free environment. Just as the therapists are a calming presence for their patients, Therapy Space is meant to be a calming presence for the providers. The moodboard below showed our vision for the future state of the platform, and the client loved it!


Below is the basic structure of a design system we implemented after landing on the look and feel of the new platform. 


Home. In the current state of Therapy Space, there were two screens that served very similar functions: Tasks and Calendar. After researching how these functions are utilized by the user, we found it made the most sense to consolidate these screens into one task-oriented screen that would allow the user to manage their day, week, and month. We created high-level action items so the user can easily add an appointment or task on their home screen, as these are the most used functionalities. Because responsiveness was such an important ask, we made sure that action item would remain visible even on a smaller screen - just shifting to a multi-action fab button. 

Clients. The next screens to focus on was the client management piece since this is so often where therapists and practitioners spend most of their time. There was also the most navigational improvement to be made in this section of the current platform! When a user would select clients, they would have to navigate to different screens depending on the type of client list they were looking for: prospective clients, client groups, my clients, all clients, etc. We minimized the extra steps and confusions with this flow by creating one client list screen where a user can filter by type in a dropdown rather than having to go to a different page entirely. Another improvement we implemented was when Ia user wanted to dive into an individual client, they would be able to see all of that client's information in one screen and could tab through the different categories of notes, cases, billing, history, etc. Once again , we  eliminated the need for a user to navigate to a bunch of different screens and provided all the information they would need in one main user flow.

Client List

Individual Client


Here is an example of one of the tasks we asked the users to complete! In this task, the user was asked to activate an inactive staff member.

test it out


While the applied designs were being explored and finalized, we conducted usability tests on the navigation with the low-fidelity wireframes. We facilitated 12 usability tests using the Maze platform, and gained very telling insights about user expectations. There were five tasks we wanted to test out that focused on the following flows: progress notes, staff member management, scheduling appointments, batch payments, and dynamic forms. 


While we wanted to conduct the usability tests in a facilitated and virtual manner, time and availability restraints led to these tests being sent and completed independently by the user. Therefore, some of the misclicks or bounce rates were due to the users simply learning how to operate the test. Also, a lot of follow up questions were skipped (something we could have pushed for in a facilitated test), which limited our learnings and conclusions. However, we still learned a lot and were able to make data-based decisions!


Activating a Staff Member. The new flow of having the staff member management under organization proved to be a positive change! Users commented, "I like it under Organization," and, "That was easy and made sense."  

Creating a Form. We learned that users typically look for this feature under Clients and Organization, and in the future it would be best to A/B test this placement! It was also observed that the name for this feature needs rework. Rather than "Dynamic Forms", it should be named something like "Templates", "Note Templates", "Form Templates", or "Custom Forms". 

Our approach to help validate the experience with users was by usability testing prototypes and wireframes. Gathering insights early will ensure we are iterating efficiently toward the user and business goals and allows us to make informed design decisions.

In conclusion...


While the Therapy Space team only hired us for 7 weeks, we were determined to continue to gather insights on their user and stakeholder needs to set them up for success in making informed decisions for the future. I facilitated the Sailboat Exercise as part of our retro activity, ensuring the team was aligned on what was holding the product back, what was propelling the team forward, what could be some obstacles along the way, and where their hope lied for the future. 

suggestions for the future

After our user interviews and usability tests, we learned various enhancements that should be considered for the future of this product. With our short timeline, we were really only focused on the navigation, but once again, we wanted to set the Therapy Space team up for success in their goal to continue to provide an amazing PMS for their users. 

Admins and practice owners want to be able to assign tasks (like sign or complete progress notes) to other employees.

Progress notes have confidential information and it is not secure to share them via email. Users want this feature to be connected to the Client Portal and share the notes there.

Personalized experience will help users create shortcuts to the most completed tasks. Also, defaulting to a certain page will help some users to get to their tasks faster.

Although Client search is the most used right now, an ability to quickly start searching for Help, finding a feature or an article in the Knowledge base is very useful to people.

Users don’t want to forget an important task (like to sign or create a Progress note, confirm an appointment, review a client flag etc.) and having some alerts autopopulated in tasks will keep them on track. 

Personalized experience will help users create shortcuts to the most completed tasks. Also, defaulting to a certain page will help some users to get to their tasks faster.