Why the real difference for Insurance will be the UX

Design is a topic that can quite often be overlooked or left till last. With the application market growing at such an exponential rate, having a great design could mean you either make it or break it. While you may think good design means something that looks great, in truth there is much more to design than just how it looks. Design for me, is a way of thinking. A design mind-set is not problem-focused, it is solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Which draws upon logic, imagination, intuition and systemic reasoning to explore possibilities of what could be and to create desired apps that benefit our end users. A level of thinking we have expressed in our latest release: the Mendix for Insurance Claims Handling app.

How do you solve a problem like Claims Handling?

Behind every good insurance product there are often many supporting applications. With every claims app, there are accompanying quoting and rating apps. We are delivering an ecosystem of connected insurance apps, using the power of appservices. Empowering us to share functionality and data between our apps. Therefore, when our users need to claim, they can, with minimal fuss. No hunting for paperwork or searching for reference numbers, being connected to the quote and buy app, the claims app pulls through your details, using the returned information to build your claim. Making applying for that claim that much easier.

We have created a self-service app, with personality and efficiency, able to handle claims 24/7 365 days a year. Providing our users with that much-needed relief, after the loss, damage or theft of their possessions. Turning a distressing situation into one of relief in a matter of minutes, opposed to traditionally waiting days or even months for a pay-out. Providing a system that is clean from bureaucracy, manual process and distrust. We don’t just automatically pay out every claim, there are some that we still require review. Such as a theft claim without a crime reference number and high value possessions.

Sprinting to success

Our team adopts a design-first approach, where we build the app around the design, rather than build-first and design later. Adopting this methodology was a gradual progression and has changed the way we have structure our projects. Instead of working in a two-week sprint, we have use a more aggressive one week sprint. A five-day process for solving design problems quickly. Typically, we spend Monday and Tuesday planning and ideating. Wednesday and Thursday, decision making and prototyping. Ending with a Friday showcase and review.

Design Sprint process: http://www.gv.com/sprint/

Ideation is key here, we use a funnel approach, where we aim to refine these multiple ideas into one. Going from elaboration, where we generate as many different ideas as possible, to reduction, where we select one or a combination of the best bits from multiple ideas and refine. One of my favourite activities for this is crazy eights, where you generate eight different design concepts and using stickers everyone votes for the idea they think is best.

How to do Crazy 8s: “Sprint”, pp. 112–113

A good design philosophy is a good start if you want to be successful, but counts for little without having the right tools at hand. A tool more friend than foe, that can enable ideation, iteration, experimentation and testing. Our answer was the Atlas UI Framework.

A Tool That Can Enable a Design Thinking Approach

Atlas is the latest Mendix UI Framework, a design language to apply a design thinking approach to low code app development. Atlas consists of five key design elements: Navigation layouts, Page templates, Building Blocks, Widgets and Design Properties and is built upon the core design principles of simplicity, harmony and flexibility. It is fully integrated with the Web Modeler, a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) App Designer.

It’s not always that easy to deliver creativity on demand. Most of the time you need to be inspired!

Be Inspired!!!

Most projects start with a blank page, a white space, and in a dream scenario these ideas would pop straight out from the page into your head and “Hey Presto” you have a beautiful designed multi-channel app. However, it’s not always that easy to deliver creativity on demand. Most of the time you need to be inspired! We found inspiration from Atlas’ design elements all based on common UI patterns, currently being utilized by the best and brightest apps on the market. Take our page header, featuring a profile image and conversation style message, it started life as the Hero Header building block. Inheriting its top-down layout and its centre alignment we created our own custom building block. Atlas design elements can either satisfy your design requirements or ignite a spark to create your own.

101 Things To Build With Lego Bricks

Forget page by page design, Atlas encourages you to think about your interface’s design in patterns or modules. Think LEGO Bricks! Just like how Lego brick can be used to build a castle, spaceship, or robot, a design element can be reused, reorganized and reassembled to create a new design concept. By designing in modules, you can not only create something unique, but consistent with an established style. Take for instance our cards for multiple and single option responses, for multiple we used a checkbox while for a single a radiobutton. Once this pattern was established, we know exactly what pattern to use in the future. Allowing us to move faster with our design and to continue exploration, instead of striving to create a pixel-perfect design.

Radiobutton and Checkbox Design Patterns

Getting The Right Design

With a design framework like Atlas on our side we can not only iterate quickly but create great experiences. With functionality, such as the WYSIWYG UI designer, you can very easily create new ideas by changing building blocks and widgets or by adjusting design properties of existing design elements. For example, the button choice of stage one, we adjusted sizes, colours and spacing till we found a design that worked. It’s not just on a design property level, we also able to adjust the user flow, swapping and changing the stages of our app, such as moving where we ask for the crime reference number after what we ask has been stolen. Enabling us to rapidly ideate, refine and test different design concepts. Leading us to the right design faster.

Having a joint understanding of all design elements, each of us can convey function and intent to one another when exploring new concepts.

Speaking The Same Language

It is not uncommon to be asked to justify a design decision, it’s important that you all speak the same design language. Having a joint understanding of all design elements, each of us can convey function and intent to one another when exploring new concepts. Thus, making discussions full of insight rather than noise and uncertainties. When designing the claim’s dashboard, we could experiment with several dashboard page templates quickly. Then we explored different positions for placing widgets collaboratively, until we decided on what worked best.

Using Atlas and its common design patterns, we focussed that bit less on the aesthetics and the nitty gritty of the design. Instead directing attention to our key UX and project goals of claim automation, minimizing cognitive load and reaffirming trust (evolution of trust). Creating an app which is loved rather than loathed. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how we created our claims app. Now, what will you build?

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