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Customer Secure Site: Personal Insurance


Photo by Dan Nelson on Unsplash


Personal insurance customers with life, disability, and critical illness policies had long desired the insurance company to provide an online platform to view, manage, and make changes to their policy details. In response to strong NPS feedback in support of this initiative, the design team worked to develop a customer secure site that would provide the capability for customers to access their personal insurance policy details and make changes to their address or billing information online, with additional capabilities scheduled for future roll-out.

In this project, design and development began before in-depth user experience research was conducted, and before I joined the company. The stakeholders and design team recognized the need for learning about customers' priorities, values, goals, and experiences to inform the refinement and continued development of the secure site capabilities, and sought a dedicated researcher to help achieve these objectives and inform the development of the secure site. At this stage, another team member initiated internal research activities, and I joined the team shortly after. I then developed and executed a multi-phase research plan to provide customer insight that informed the design of a tool that addressed user needs and fit seamlessly into customers' lives.

My Role 

I began by working with the UX Design Lead, Designer, and Director to understand the context and goals for the project. Shortly before my joining the project, but after design had been underway, another team member conducted internal interviews with customer service representatives to explore internal insights about customer pain points and motivations for calling. Upon joining the team, I took over and completed the synthesis of this interview data, and mapped out and conducted the next two phases of research along with additional usability tests to provide timely user feedback.


To meet project objectives and gain a deep understanding of user needs, it was essential to conduct qualitative research with personal insurance policyholders. Time and access to customers were both significant constraints. In this organization, a dedicated database of customers to contact for user research was not available, and the lead time to collect company-specific customers that could participate in this research was estimated at three months - too long for the short turnaround that was required.


Recognizing that rapid access to personal insurance policyholders was the priority, I merged readily available tools to gain insight to user needs by creating a generative, closed-ended survey with Microsoft Forms, and running the survey (with additional instructions for users to speak their thoughts aloud and elaborate on their answers) through The platform enabled immediate access to users who could provide insight about their motivations, behaviours, goals, and experiences. 30 surveys were conducted that tracked basic quantifiable information, and the spoken comments were transcribed in the platform. This solution provided a rapid resolution to our challenge with accessing a user database, and has been added to the team's toolbox for use in future time- and resource-sensitive projects.


Research for this project included multiple phases, including internal interviews with customer service representatives to learn about common customer complaints and pain points (conducted prior to my joining the project), surveying personal insurance policyholders to understand common behaviours, motivations, goals, experiences, and demographic contexts, and conducting in-depth customer interviews with select survey participants develop deep empathy for the customers and understand their insurance-related needs in the greater context of their daily lives. The combination of these approaches informed the development of user archetypes (based on survey results), which will be refined into user personas (following completion of in-depth interviews with customers) and help guide designers with the development of forthcoming capabilities.

In addition, to notify customers about this new capability, digital advertisements were designed and tested using unmoderated usability tests on Before launching the ads on the website, the design team was interested in learning about the effectiveness of the ad location and communication. They created two website prototypes with advertisements in two commonly used locations (main website home page and insurance-specific landing page), each leading to a mockup of the customer secure site login page. Research was required to assess the advertisements' findability, as well as user comprehension of the advertisements and the secure site login page.

Internal Interviews

Four 1-hour interviews were conducted with customer service representatives to learn about common customer pain points

Unmoderated Surveys

30 surveys were launched through, participants' spoke thoughts aloud to expand on survey responses

User Archetypes

Survey data was synthesized into key behavioural themes and two user archetypes were identified

In-Depth Customer Interviews

3 participants from each archetype were selected for in-depth interviews to gain deeper contextual user knowledge 

User Personas

Interview and survey data were synthesized into detailed user personas to guide the design team in their ongoing work

Unmoderated Usability Tests

Conducted to evaluate placement and user comprehension of announcements for the new secure site

Qualitative data synthesis: Mapping themes and behaviours.
Copyright 2022. Not to be used without permission.


After analyzing and synthesizing all data, three distinct user personas were identified. A current-state user journey was mapped for each persona, which visualized customer experiences accessing or changing personal insurance policy information. These insights informed design recommendations that would help ensure a smooth, streamlined self-service experience for customers. 


Research findings were presented to stakeholders across the business unit, and personas and journey maps were socialized throughout the design team, project owners, and stakeholders. The insights captured in these artifacts continue to inform design strategy and decisions related to the customer experience on the customer secure site for life, critical illness, and disability insurance products.


Joining this project late in the design stage and taking over research initiated by others was a challenge. Design was already underway and research needed to be conducted rapidly so that ongoing design decisions were informed by actual user needs. As someone new to the team, this required me to rapidly immerse myself in the project, understand the team structure, clarify the stakeholder needs, select appropriate methods, conduct the research itself, and deliver my findings in a way that would provide clear design directives that were mindful of the existing time constraints. I asked a lot of questions to situate myself in the project and understand the context, and worked closely with the designers to learn about progress to date and concerns they had. Regular check-ins with the team enhanced our communication and ensured the successful development of the multi-phase research plan.

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