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How effective are leading insurance websites at delivering a positive user experience?

This month I’ve been looking at insurance websites to see the tools and techniques they’re using to help visitors make sense of a complex product. This is something I’ve had first hand experience of as a customer, most recently looking for professional indemnity insurance for small business, and there are some obvious gaps that key players are missing. For this blog I’ve focused on four brands and not the aggregators like Moneysupemarket. The brands are: Aviva, Hiscox, LV and Saga.

Homepage – content and signposting

Although the content is being displayed clearly with some key usability boxes ticked (e.g. consistent use of colours for CTA buttons, good contrast between backgrounds and text), only Saga and Hiscox make the range of services they provide obvious in my visible pane (laptop resolution 1024×640). Aviva and LV arguably have the most engaging overall design (e.g. good use of iconography) but you have to scroll to find out if they offer what you’re looking for, unless their hero products hit the mark, most likely chosen because they’re the most popular insurance products.

Hiscox has a clear top menu of text links and includes a drop down selector in the main promotion image, though I missed this initially as I kept staring at the red chair and wondering what it signified because my eyes didn’t scan the red copy.

 

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The approach to mobile is quite different. Hiscox has a mobile specific website on an m dot domain, with the content and structure optimised for mobile visitors. Although responsive web design is fast replacing the need for mobile specific sites, tailoring the experience for mobile users using adaptive design is usually the best solution because mobile browsing behaviour is significantly different to desktop.

 

I was surprised by the dominance of the cookie policy disclaimers for mobile. The example below from LV takes up nearly 50% of the homescreen on an iPhone 4s; I know it’s a legal requirement to provide a clear link to an open and transparent cookie policy but there are more subtle ways to do this.

 

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Saga hasn’t yet created a mobile optimised website. The mobile experience is simply the desktop site shrunk into a mobile web browser. This may be a reflection of its audience but given the increasing digital expertise of the 50+ audience, I think it’s a key usability gap they need to address.

 

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Navigation – ability to deep dive

Overall the navigation on the websites is clear but there are some oddities in how elements like the main menu work. For example, on Aviva, once you drill down into insurance for business, the homepage links change to /yourbusiness. The only way back to the main homepage is via a discreet link in the footer titled “AvivaUK’. This drops you on the Aviva homepage, rather than back to insurance.

Saga incorporates promotional content into its drop down menu, which I’ve seen increase click through rates on other retail sites. The drop down can be slow; at first I didn’t think there was a drop down because on hover-over, nothing happened before I moved the mouse away. However, without rigorous testing I can’t isolate local connectivity issues.

 

 

 

The mobile experience left me a little frustrated; most sites made me do the work to drill down to the product I was interested in (insurance for small business). Most of the site-wide headers failed to provide a multi-layer menu structure, so to access the content I required, I had to scroll down the insurance landing page. The Aviva example below demonstrates this:

 

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My expectation when mobile browsing is to have a menu structure that filters down through the site hierarchy, where I can choose at which level to dive into the content. House of Fraser is an example from a retail site that enables this through mobile.

Site search

This for me is where all four companies have an opportunity to use established ecommerce techniques to make life easier for visitors.

I couldn’t find a search tool for LV and Saga, which is odd. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t let people search your site to find products and content relevant to them. The content is there, it just needs to be indexed and surfaced on a well-designed results page.

Both Aviva and Hiscox have incorporated search into the site, although the search results page could be improved. Both return products and content in the same format, in a long list, which makes it hard to pick out the most relevant result for your search intent.

 

 

In my opinion, based on data from other B2C and B2B websites, click through and conversion from site search could be improved by segmenting search results based on type. For example, put products results (buying insurance products) in a different design, or separate tab, to content like blogs.

Hiscox is making use of fuzzy logic elements to improve the accuracy and relevance of search results. Miss spelling is a good example; type “imdenity insurance” and the site shows results for “indemnity insurance” by default. It’s odd though that I was also given the option to search for “imdenity insurance” instead, which returns no results and a really unhelpful zero results page:

 

 

It shouldn’t be too complex to update the search logic so that any search terms with zero matches aren’t shown as clickable options to users, or there is a friendly zero results page that gives options to continue your journey.

Online support and social proof

All four sites have the obligatory contact links but I found no evidence of live chat. Perhaps this is time restricted to peak hours but even when starting and abandoning a quote, nothing was surfaced. I couldn’t find any reference to live chat on the site either. Given the product complexity, I’d have expected live chat as a key online engagement and customer service tool.

I really like LV’s glossary feature; you can turn on the glossary and keywords are highlighted that become clickable. On click, an overlay with an explanation of the keyword is displayed. It’s an effective way of helping people understand insurance specific terminology.

 

 

LV is also good at promoting customer ratings and 3rd party endorsements throughout the site. This includes the following:

  1. YouGov Most recommended badge
  2. Reference to key awards including Moneywise Most Trusted Insurer 2014
  3. Reevoo rating badge on the Insurance landing page

 

 

The website also surfaces customer stories to provide social proof beyond the corporate content. Some may find this cheesy marketing but it’s evidence that LV wants to reassure potential customers by surfacing information from ‘people like them’.

Aviva has added ask and answer to the site, letting visitors ask questions via a simple form. However, this isn’t interactive and doesn’t let you submit a new question if you don’t find the answer from the results provided. This seems like a missed opportunity to increase engagement when users are specifically looking for information.

Comments and questions

This only scratches the surface and there are lots of other elements to these websites; my aim was to reflect my first impressions of using the key site features that new users turn to before committing to a purchase. First impressions are vital because attention spans are short and if the user experience isn’t positive, this typically drives up exit rates.

Please drop by and share your comments, questions and experience. Which insurance sites do you think do ecommerce well and why?