Vendor Selection, Projects and Implementations
Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
For years the insurance industry has focused on providing Internet access to products and information to their agents. Insurers have responded to a demand for self service, adding these requirements to a laundry list of business initiatives. While the boom of web and mobile access has contributed to these demands, we have learned that while providing functionality such as quote, bind, and inquiry is good, it`s not necessarily good enough.
As the industry continues to juggle priorities to support the business needs, providing a portal may be at the top of mind but adding the requirements for an optimal user experience may not be understood. For those who look to extending capabilities to the Web and mobile environments or are thinking about their next move, it will be important to think wider than “usability” and begin to think in terms of the entire “user experience.” This will result in a better offering and long term savings.
Start with the basics
What is the difference between usability and user experience? Usability is when our users are performing a task; they need to get something done. The interface for this is designed so that the user can get it done quickly and intuitively. A good example of this is providing the capability to get a quote: enter the data, submit, and get a result.
User experience, however, is how our users feel about their interaction. It widens the scope of the interface to include visual design including fonts, colors, and navigation. So, while getting a quote is important, the flow of the process accompanied by great visual design and the ease to obtain additional support and information during the process is equally essential. Insurers can get their users to “wow” if they understand the concept of delivering optimal user experience.
Use storytelling for workflow
We`ve all been a part of presentations that were difficult to sit through. Those sessions are usually full of interesting material however the delivery has been dry or at a level that has too much detail.
The best presentations are those that incorporate storytelling. Delivering content through a story enables a connection with the audience and gives them the opportunity to discover the lesson.
Storytelling should be brought into user experience design as well. Instead of using scenarios, try to tell the story of how the users might go about their journey. Using storytelling techniques can add a dimension of emotion that will grab the user and result in a better user experience. By focusing on user flows instead of page design and information architecture, insurers will meet their business objectives while delivering a valuable and complete user experience.
Layout, fonts, headings, and pictures all contribute to visual design. The challenge is finding a design that is optimal for all users. By including users in the development and feedback, insurers can meet the needs of most. Good visual design, however, can reduce the learning curve for all users if there is consistency and patterns. This eases the process for the users as they don`t have to memorize what to do since the site is intuitive.
When a user visits a Web Site, they have a task to complete. Ensuring that the user can navigate the site needs to be a fundamental component to the overall design. Navigation includes providing consistency in the placement of menus and elements. Users should not have to guess or spend too much time looking to find something. Provide an experience where users can find what they need quickly.
Providing a great user experience for a disabled person is important for insurers to include. Accessibility should be part of the overall design. This includes support for sound and sight and an interactive experience that can be directed through voice and keyboard. While this is not required by law, it should be considered best practice in reaching all types of users. There are organizations that solely focus on assisting insurers with this need.
User Experience not Just Usability
“User experience” and “usability” are different concepts but are indeed related. While we need to ensure that processing is easy to use, we also need to ensure that the entire experience is substantial. We need to care about design, performance, and the emotional reaction to our design. Our own experience with both good and bad web applications has provided this understanding. It`s time to adjust our mindset and improve our web offerings.
Wendy Aarons-Corman is president and founder of UX Game Changers, an organization that delivers optimal user experiences to the Web and mobile for insurers.