Research, concept creation, and evaluative testing for helping associates and advisors manage life insurance policies.

A financial services client asked my team and I to improve the design and functionality of two life insurance web applications critical to their business: the first helped company associates manage requests for life insurance policies submitted for review and approval, while the second was for company advisors to run life insurance “illustrations” with a set of projections for each year insurance is needed.

Previously, our design agency created a digital style guide for the client’s suite of web products. They wanted the design updates to be informed by user research and customer insight to help drive usage and adoption of the applications within the organization. Some of the client’s business goals included:

  • Create an intuitive interface for complex use cases
  • Distinguish the experience for basic vs. advanced users
  • Ease of access to information and reduce confusion
  • Deliver right content to right people


Research Goals: The client wanted a holistic view of the user journey for the two core user groups to uncover any unmet needs and wants with the current state of the web applications.

Working with a lead user researcher and design architect, I set out to first get an understanding of the goals of each group based on their role, as well as any possible frustrations or obstacles they encounter when using the applications. Specific research objectives included:

  • Establish baseline system usability score (SUS) to determine KPIs for post design phase testing
  • Observe how the each user groups interact with the current state applications
  • Gain an understanding of user pain points, what works well and priority task flows in the current state of the applications
  • Provide information for prioritization of future redesign work based on actual user input

Tasks for User Groups

Qualitative Interviews: The lead user researcher and I conducted 16 qualitative phone interviews across both core user groups for each of the life insurance web applications to help us inform the redesign effort. Most interview participants spent a large amount of any given day working in the applications, in some cases more than 50% of the day.

At the end of each interview, participants were asked to score the current web applications using a System Usability Scale (SUS) system. This provided us with a baseline SUS score to compare against the SUS score we would obtain from testing the new concepts.

Alignment Workshop: We held an alignment workshop onsite with the client stakeholders to review initial interview findings and began sketching ideas for an improved experience of the life insurance web applications. Spending face time with the client helped us prioritize research results based on business requirements directly from the client.


Alignment workshop with client stakeholders

Concept Creation: The information and data we gathered during the interviews and workshop session was used to create two concept designs for each web application aimed at improving the overall ease of use, learnability and flexibility of the applications. We created the concepts in sketch and wireframe form, but adhered to the styles in the client’s digital style guide to ensure a seamless transition for implementation of any improvements and changes.

During this phase, I took the information from the interviews and workshop to sketch ideas for a redesign of each web app.



My sketch of the landing page for Life Insurance Cases



My sketch of the Case Detail Page for Life Insurance Cases


To get a sense of whether these initial ideas would fit with business requirements, I created an animated GIF out of them for my team to share with the client. This helped surface any issues or concerns prior to moving to high-fidelity wireframes. (Click the GIF to play.)


Concept Testing: We created four clickable prototypes of the high-fidelity wireframe concepts so that we could test the new concepts. The goal of the concept testing sessions was to show the updated concept designs to the users we previously interviewed to obtain their thoughts and reactions about the redesign. Their feedback helped validate and inform the final design for delivery to the client.

Each participant was shown two prototypes and asked how they would anticipate them helping or hindering their workflow. They were also asked to score each concept at the end of the session using a System Usability Score (SUS) system.

Landing Page With Sticky Action Bar

Bell Icon Indicator and Overlay

Case Detail Page

In-line Open Item


Concept Finalization: We pared down the concepts to two final concepts, one for each web application. We focused on making final improvements and changes to the concept that tested as the better of the two. Changes were based on everything we had done: user interviews, alignment workshop outputs, concept testing and stakeholder feedback.

I created annotations and documentation for all of the screens and UI elements from the new design concepts. Due to the highly interactive nature of the new concepts, I described and called out interactive elements by showing mini flows and displaying how they connected. In addition to final annotations, I also provided a video walkthrough of the clickable prototype with narration.


Annotations: Flagging Individual Requests or Requirements



Annotations: Sticky Action Bar

Based on our redesign, we improved the baseline usability score from 68 (C) to 77 (A-) and the learnability score increase from 75 (B+) to 85 (A+). Overall we saw the SUS score increase from 69 (C) to 79 (A) based on the Sauro and Lewis scale.