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First Impressions Matter

Creating effective first impressions during the onboarding process to improve staff recruitment and retention for Therapy Connect, one of Australia's leading NDIS online therapy service providers.


Therapy Connect


Co-led team of 3 UX Designers,

UX Research,

Stakeholder Management


Figma, Fijam, Slack, Zoom, Marvel


1 month design sprint


Since its establishment in 2014, Therapy Connect has rapidly emerged as one of Australia’s leading NDIS online therapy providers. With plans for further business expansion, Therapy Connect faces challenges in recruiting high-quality therapists to meet demand due to lengthy patient waiting lists and limitations in the availability of suitable staff on the market. Additionally, they have encountered difficulties managing their current applicant onboarding system, which is overly administrative and inefficient.

Collaborating with the client, we examined and charted Therapy Connect's recruitment and onboarding process to pinpoint key challenges and areas for improvement. Our solution involves revamping the employee web page to offer clarity on company culture and the recruitment & onboarding process, to enhance engagement and encourage candidates to express interest or to apply for a position.



There are limitations in the availability and supply of quality staff for recruitment and retention.


The existing onboarding process is high touch and manual. Although this personalised approach is appreciated by applicants, it involves heavy admin work, which is not scalable or efficient.


Therapy Connect faces budget constraints due to being funded by the NDIS, as a result, they have offshored their IT support & development.


To gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and pain points encountered by our users throughout their employment and onboarding experiences, we conducted market research and in-depth user interviews.


As we lacked comprehensive knowledge about the recruitment and onboarding process in the Allied Health sector, our team delved into market research to understand the intricacies involved.

From this research, we unveiled the following key information:

There is a staff shortage, with declining numbers of actively practising therapists in the industry.

The NDIS sector faces an annual 15-25% turnover rate for staff.

Following the COVID pandemic, there is an increase in the demand for flexible work arrangements.

There is an increasingly competitive market for skilled workers.


Having a well-structured onboarding program that draws upon a hierarchy of needs model nurtures employee engagement.

To supplement our research on market trends, we looked into academic studies regarding onboarding, which provided a deeper insight into staff retention and engagement patterns. 

We found that:

  • Implementing Maslow's hierarchy of needs allowed companies to effectively motivate, recruit, and retain employees over the long haul.

  • Nurturing a feeling of 'belonging' via peer relationships and support from colleagues in the initial stages enhanced employee retention rates.

  • Establishing a well-defined and transparent onboarding process decreased turnover by alleviating stress and overwhelming information during the early phases.


Conducting in-depth interviews with 23 Allied Health practitioners and 21 non-Allied Health workers over Zoom and call

Next, in order to gain a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points encountered by our users throughout their onboarding experiences, we conducted interviews and asked questions aimed at understanding their motivations and experiences related to the recruitment and onboarding process.


After consolidating these discoveries through affinity mapping, conducting analysis, and categorising insights, we were able to pinpoint the primary needs, desires, and frustrations that individuals encountered.

From our interviews, 4 key insights emerged:

"I need a supportive work environment​"

Therapists value continuous support from management and colleagues during the onboarding process until full integration into the team.  

"I want learning & growth opportunities​"

Therapists seek opportunities for skill development and career advancement, and tend to stay loyal to companies that offer them this.

"I want feel valued"

Therapists want to receive positive feedback, recognition for their contributions, and work with management supports their work preferences.

"I want to develop personal connections"

Creating informal bonds with colleagues creates a strong sense of belonging and made therapists feel part of the team. 


Meet The Support Driven Therapist

Based on our research, we developed our archetype: The Support Driven Therapist. She is currently working full time, but is feeling burnt out and under-prepared for her caseload. Her goal is to look for a job where she feels valued, and is motivated to learn about company culture, support, and growth opportunities when job seeking.

The Support Driven Therapist

Female, late 20s to early 30s.


The Support Driven Therapist has been working full time in the industry for a number of years now. Faced with a large and growing caseload, she is feeling burnt out and under-prepared. She is currently looking for a job where she will feel valued, and is attracted to companies with a supportive work culture and growth opportunities.


To be in a job where she feels valued, specifically, where she:


Has her needs and opinions heard

  • Is given opportunities for further growth

  • Is acknowledged for her work

  • Is recognised as part of the team

  • A supportive work culture for career growth

  • A personalised onboarding experience

  • Positive feedback from seniors to know she’s contributing.

  • Researches company culture before applying

  • Overworks herself and pushes on

  • Seeks out growth opportunities

Pain Points
  • Burn out by client caseload

  • Feels under-prepared for her job and caseload due to inadequate training

  • Overwhelmed by information and content during onboarding


The Support Driven Therapist needs an encouraging work culture where she feels valued.


Creating our user journey map revealed two areas for intervention — the “early research” and the “late onboarding” stage.

This process allowed us to further empathise with our user and to see where problems existed, what opportunities could be implemented, and at what point our intervention would be most effective.

We found that:


  • During the early stage of research and application, there’s an opportunity to promote work culture and support.

  • To prevent information overload in the later stages, there is an opportunity to implement staged onboarding with early team involvement and provision of engaging training material.


How might we show that our Support Driven therapist is valued?​ 
How might we show a supportive work culture?​

By asking these questions, my team and I were able to sketch out ideas and iterate upon them through insightful discussions.

We converged on three main ideas:

1. "Join Team" Menu Item

During the research phase, the “Join our team” link on the existing desktop webpage could be further elaborated on to show information that would address the needs of our Support Driven Therapist as found through our research.

2. Slackbot Plug-In

Therapy Connect uses Slack for team communication and news, a Slack-Bot Plug-In can be implemented to help new users throughout the onboarding process. This can offer a friendly and personal touch without heavy reliance on manual administrative processes.

3. Personalised Dashboard

For the later stages of onboarding and beyond, a portal with a personalise dashboard view can allow tracking of online learning modules and submission of required documents in one place.


We needed to determine which idea was the most feasible and effective solution to implement.

Reviewing our designs above, the 'Join our team' menu item idea involves updating the candidate information page, and addresses the early research phase of onboarding, whereas the 'Slackbot Plug-In' and 'Personalised Dashboard' ideas tackle the highly manual administrative process.

We also faced a  slight dilemma:

  • The research stage solution aims to enhance recruitment by increasing the number of staff, but this would in turn add strain to the existing administrative process. 

  • While the onboarding solution could help Therapy Connect scale, it's crucial to recruit and retain sufficient staff first to justify its implementation.

We concluded that revamping the 'Join our Team' page would be the most feasible solution to pursue.

Realising this, our team assessed the desirability, viability, and feasibility of the ideas:

  • Updated ‘join our team’ page: this was determined to be the most feasible based on IT, time & budget constraints

  • Slackbot Plug-in: Although this idea could reduce administration, there were already subscription services that could be readily implemented such as Chat Bot, Zavvy, etc.

  • Personalised employee portal: While this would streamline administration for new employees, it was not feasible to develop for a company still in its early stages.


A revamped 'Join Our Team' webpage aimed at informing potential applicants of Therapy Connect's supportive team culture and onboarding process, and to foster a sense of support and value to individuals even prior to applying. 


Based on our research, users tend to use platforms such as Seek and Indeed to look for jobs, where they would then click onto the company website from the job advert to do further research.


Due to limited resources and constraints, we prioritised features that were of high value to our user and were the most feasible for Therapy Connect.

From our task flow, we extracted all the existing features from the website or webpages containing information on team culture and support. We then did card sorting with 5 users to get an idea of content hierarchy and which page users expected information to go under. We identified our high impact low effort features via the feature prioritisation matrix for our minimum viable product (MVP). This gave us an idea on which features should be prioritised immediately, in the near future, and which to exclude.


All of the 5 users we tested skimmed through information, skipped videos, and did not engage with the content. 

Before jumping into designing and testing our solution, we tested the existing Therapy Connect website with 5 users to observe our user’s behaviours, this would allow us to identify any key barriers and pain points to address in our MVP.

The results were insightful:

  • 4 out of 5 users clicked on ‘About Us’ first on the home page instead of ‘Join Our Team’

  • 5 out of 5 users skimmed through information on the ‘Join Our Team page’

  • 4 out of 5 users were confused about applicant vs patient content. 

  • Average of 60% scroll depth on the team page across all users

PROTOTYPE AND TESTING | Iterations from Usability Tests

Results from testing the existing website prompted our team to look into redesigning the content hierarchy and navigation, and A/B test for the most effective design.

We conducted testing on two prototypes: Prototype A, which featured a single page of content accessible after the user clicked 'Join Our Team', and Prototype B, which included a secondary top navigation bar designed to differentiate between patient and applicant menus. In Prototype B, the content was spread across multiple pages.

Add a Primary visual element positioned at the top, accompanied by a prominent CTATitle

Mission Statement

Highlighting values

of company culture

Team images to show culture

and work-from-home setups

Information on company culture and management and leadership styles

Employee benefits and information on how the company

supports their staff

Clear CTA’s to encourage

applicants to apply

Secondary Navigation Bar for staff/applicants

Multiple pages of content was more engaging than a single page for the 5 users we tested.

Based on our testing results, users showed higher engagement with content spread across multiple pages compared to a single scroll page. 3 out of 5 users expressed hesitation and confusion regarding the top navigation in prototype B, with some users missing it completely.  This prompted us to implement a more intuitive fixed side navigation menu.

After another 3 rounds of moderated testing, we were able to further refine the content hierarchy and navigation

Usability Testing Results: 

  • The sidebar navigation proved to be familiar and intuitive to use. 

  • Users still tried to click on the ‘About Us’ link first from the home page to explore content despite the ‘Join Our Team’ link. 

  • The content on the ‘Culture’ page to be overwhelming with the amount of text present

Adjustments made: 

  • Removal of secondary top navigation menu from the home page: We opted to keep the original navigation. Once users click on the 'Join our team' link from the home page, the applicant information webpages will then show the sidebar navigation. 

  • The removal of our About Us page: Given the presence of an existing 'About Us' page in the navigation, users consistently accessed this page first. We also noted that users would normally view company vision and mission information and then click on the ‘Join Our Team’ call to action button from that page to arrive at our solution.

  • Consolidating text and related sections: We consolidated the  'shared beliefs' and 'our values' content to make content less overwhelming. 









Better health starts with access to better therapists.
"Delivering faster and easier access to highly qualified and experienced therapists across the country."


Highlighting company culture

Showing support and onboarding information


We tested our final prototype with 6 users and achieved:

  • 90% scroll depth on each page

  • 80% increase in content click-through rate

  • 95% users expressed they would return to the original ad to apply

Client Testimony

"Lucy delivered a fantastic project for my organisation, working alongside two colleagues.


They asked well considered questions, sought input, and communicated extraordinarily well.


Their final presentation was professional and detailed, they had clearly worked well as a team, and they had come up with well researched output and very achievable actions for us to progress.


I especially appreciated our discussion on areas they had considered and researched but did not progress due to the research data not supporting these. This demonstrated great client focus."

- Desleigh White (HR Lead)

Key Takeaways

  • We had many ideas but couldn't solve every problem due to time and budget constraints.


    Learning to prioritise, we focused on one of Therapy Connect's issues that would offer immediate value, deferring the second problem for later.


    It's better to prioritise effectively and design one idea well than to spread efforts thinly across many ideas.

  • At times, our usability testing yielded unforeseen outcomes. Instead of resisting or disregarding these behaviours, which proved ineffective, we ultimately embraced the feedback and adapted our design accordingly.

  • Our team appreciated collaborating with enthusiastic and supportive stakeholders.


    As I managed stakeholder interactions, I found our clients to be understanding and cooperative, which I greatly appreciated.


    Working with them allowed me to develop leadership, public speaking, and collaborative skills beyond my comfort zone.

Recommendations & Next Steps

  • To enhance the design, additional testing can be conducted on the content and navigation, ensuring optimal user experience.

  • Expanding the reach to users researching away from their desktops can be achieved by conducting testing on responsive devices, like mobile phones.

  • Integrating this design into the current website will allow for monitoring metrics and real applicant testing. Implementing marketing schemes to promote Therapy Connect and reach a broader pool of potential candidates should be part of the plan for the near future.


Refer back to the research and facts, trust the process, and don't lose sight of the goal. 

Faced with such a broad problem space, it felt hard to know where to initially begin research and to take the first step. However, we let the process guide us, and I learnt that constantly referring back to our user, what their goals, values, and pain points were, and balancing that with the business needs, kept us on course and going in the right direction.

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