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I am working on a system for doctors and designing a 'schedule an appointment' page. Our system works on building a health network for doctors. Would it be better for me to have the appointment form on the doctor's profile itself or open it on a new page?

My mentor thinks it is better to have it on a new page so that the user does not have to scroll down to the appointment form. I, on the other hand, think that the appointment form should open on the profile page to maintain consistency.

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We really can't answer this without having a whole lot more context. At the very least, perhaps you can show a few sketches of the ideas? – DA01 Aug 5 '13 at 22:37

It's hard to answer your specific question without having a whole lot more details, but to answer your broad question:

Consistency vs Simplicity

Consistency should always be a primary goal.

But...when appropriate, don't let consistency trump a better solution to a particular problem.

As for simplicity, I'd never say that is a 'versus' issue. Again, simplicity is good when it reduced unneeded complexity, but sometimes complexity is necessary, at which point you don't want simplicity to trump that need.

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Depending on how much content you'd have to consider on the "Schedule an appointment" page, would it be a better solution to have it open on the same page as an overlay? This would be a mixture of "on the same page" and "new page". People would still have the connection to the doctor they want to book an appointment with, a feature, that could be lost when a user is forced onto a completely new page.

How would the user reach the appointment page anyway? Is there a button "Schedule an appointment"? If so, you could still have the schedule on the same page and by clicking this button, it would jump down to the schedule section.

Eventhough "above the fold" is still a valid topic to be considered, many studies have shown that users actually DO scroll, so I see no problem in putting this kind of content below the other content. Just make sure, as it seems to be a pretty important feature, to make it prominent and seen – ie. by having a well designed button right at the top.

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An alternative to an overlay would be to slide a hidden form into view, revealing it when a link or button is clicked. It doesn't take up any space until it's requested, and it allows the user to continue interacting with the rest of the page as normal. – Surreal Dreams Aug 5 '13 at 20:06
@SurrealDreams You mean like "progressive disclosure" kind of behaviour? That would work fine as well. The only problem is, when not expanded, it's kind of hidden, meanining that it is less discoverable by only scrolling. – Raphael Loder Aug 5 '13 at 21:16
Yep, that's the method. I view this as almost identical to an overlay, as both are unobtrusive until revealed. Apparently I can't resist the urge to add a little animation in my interfaces. – Surreal Dreams Aug 6 '13 at 15:38

While answering the question I would like to consider the fact if the doctor has a receptionist/front office staff who handle the scheduling/ appointment section for him/her. If this is the case then the scheduling can open in a new tab for the doctor as there would be very few cases of needs.

Otherwise, it should be kept handy on the same page ensuring that doesn't come in between of the prescription part. If the space is a constraint then the collapsable slide option suggested in previous responses seem to be a good option. Also you can avail a facility of re-positioning.

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I have two suggestions:

Solution 1: Put the form on the right side, starting somewhere in the top of the doctor's page. Definitely above the fold. Encapsulate it, so that it is visible that it is something functionally different from the rest of the design. Give it a large submit button with obvious CTA (like: "Schedule appointment"). Would be great if the button was above the fold as well, so if the form is long, try to split it in two steps, starting from some very simple fields, and then displaying the rest (could be even in an overlay).

Solution 2: Place the form in the bottom. However, add a big button "Schedule appointment" in the top. Upon clicking, the page should scroll down to the form. This way user will be able to go straight to the appointment scheduling, when s/he's on the top, but will also see the form once s/he scroll to the bottom.

Wear it in a good graphic design :)

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