Insurance is one of the traditional industries that has been disrupted by the internet. The global cyber insurance market is scaling up quickly, growing at between 25% to 50% annually in recent years.
While an increasing number of customers are using their mobile phones to research insurance products, insurance companies that marketing with hardcopy flyers and brochures in the past are accommodating to this global trend to develop online presentations of their products in an attempt to build a stronger relationship between the company, its customers, and agents.
The process of designing user interface and user experience for a new product can be quite challenging since it’s the combination of a variety of concerns, varying from branding, visual appeal, site architecture to page layout.
Global design and strategy firm frog created a new digital language system for AIA Group, the world’s top life insurer. TechNode sat down with designer of this system Jussi Edlund to discuss the design process for the digital language system and his insights on designing a mobile first and user-friendly product by using human-centered-design methodology.
Can you describe the research process and introduce the system briefly?
Our design research is primarily a set of qualitative user interviews. The research process depends very much on what we do and the client we are talking to, but generally we favor qualitative researches to quantitative researches. We spend more time with fewer people, the reason why we do that is to really get much deeper insights into people, how they actually think, what they think about, how they actually relates to the product to the theme that we are actually talking about.
So in this specific case we focus primarily on life insurance, a lot of the research that we did was around people’s attitudes toward health, wellness, their lives, what are their concerns were, what are their hopes, dreams and aspirations were. We touch on the life insurance topic both directly and indirectly. Because it’s a theme that goes around all your life, then we use the insights to build out the design language system.
What challenges did you face building the system?
When we started the project, we ask ourselves what if Google started a life insurance company tomorrow, what would that look like and we kind of visualize it for ourselves first. It’s probably going to be one button that says “Would you like to buy life insurance?” click yes, then you have got life insurance. It’s something extremely simple. We all thought this would be the product that everybody’s going to like, but nobody liked it.
The reason was that because life insurance is a long-term commitment, if you get it tomorrow you will be paying it for the next forty or fifty years. So, it is a commitment to a company that is substantial financially and has a lot of impacts. You don’t want it to be that simple, you want it to seem a little bit complicated so that you known it’s real.
This insight guided us when we started to visualize the life insurance product for instance. We couldn’t simplify too much, because people had the need to dig a little deeper, to see that maybe I don’t quite understand all of these, but at least I know it’s there. I can look at it later when I have to.
We tried a lot of different ways in laying the content out. We designed everything for mobile first. It put boundaries around for what we can do and can’t do. The design pattern that we leverage from around for things are like progressive disclosure, you start reading something and some more information is shown and you can continue. It’s also very much about visual hierarchy, how do you use typography, illustrations, iconography to actually simplify the way you talk about things, but still letting people dig deeper.
The system is designed across platforms, both for PC and mobile terminals, what are the key differences in designing systems for computers and mobile devices?
It’s easier to go one way than the other, scaling something big down is much more difficult than getting something small right. And you can see that in the design system we established. You want to get it right for mobile phone users first and you can set up a set of rule in order to make still look very much presentable on a desktop screen.
Another interesting anecdote on that topic, when we did the research we also thought that people may spend more time on their tablets or their desktop or laptop computers to do research. But we found that around 90% of people just research on the their phones. So getting the design on the phone right was actually become a massive priority for us.
Human-centered design is a buzzword in design industry in recent years. How this concept is reflected in the real design process?
All good design comes from an understanding of how humans actually behave or what they are think about. It is something you want to relate to people. I think what’s happening now or why it’s becoming more and more popular as a topic is that you will see human-centered design processes being to integrated into larger organizations, like insurances companies, big financial institutions, even manufacturing. The organizations that traditionally had a very product focused or internal focused way of designing new services are now trying to go out and identify, “Are we actually doing this the right way? Are we designing the services that people want.” Then, they start to adopt human-centered design methodologies to get a much understanding of whom they are designing for.
Ultimately, human-centered design is to make the things you do relatable. Persona is a tool with which we basically crate a fake people that is related to the research we done. We give them all kinds of information, like a name, age, a job. That’s how we bring all the people that we interviewed in the field with us through out the designing process by creating a persona in order to look at the design through their eyes.
As a Creative Director at frog Singapore, Jussi’s responsible for guiding multi-disciplinary teams through the entire design processes, from research and insights gathering, conceptualisation through to execution. He has been living and working in the APAC Region since 2006.