The Story Behind Ladder’s Human-Centered Design

We started Ladder because we believe life insurance should be built around people, with their needs and goals at the heart of everything. There’s currently a $16 trillion (!) coverage gap in the United States.¹ That means a lot of people aren’t being served well.

At Ladder, we want to help customers win.

Big picture: people want life insurance because they want to do the right thing. They want to be smart about taking care of their people and their finances.

But, life insurance still lingers on to-do lists. Why?

To find out, we talked to people. Lots of people. We first listened to what they said — and to what was left unsaid.

People tell us they want something different. Something easy to understand and quick to do. They want to know they are buying a solid product they can trust — without overpaying for something they don’t need.

When people decide they want to buy life insurance, they immediately run into speed bumps and delays. The traditional products are complex, and the process has been lengthy and messy. It has been fraught with upselling, misaligned incentives and paperwork, and people don’t want to deal with it. Life is busy, and time is precious. Who can blame them?

We hear them, and we get it. We believe everyone deserves better, and we have used technology and design to build it. We work hard to make things even better, shipping code 10x a day and continuously improving as we go.

So, today, we are excited to share Part 1 of what’s behind Ladder’s human-centered design. These are the things people will actually see, when they come to our site, (Part 2 will cover the unseen magic).

7 things people will see when they visit Ladder:

1. A clean look and feel

We believe our user experience should feel uncluttered, not overwhelming. Life insurance should take a weight off people’s shoulders, and we want that feeling to begin the moment a person arrives on our site.

An uncluttered, crisp visual space also helps people remember that checking life insurance off their list is quite do-able.

2. An inclusive experience

Our customers are beautifully diverse. At Ladder we celebrate differences and believe the world (and our company) is better because of them. It is important to us that our illustrations reflect that spirit.

3. A clear message

People buy what they understand. There are a lot of exciting elements we could highlight about Ladder, but we focused the headline on just one:

One true message pulls people in, provides them with inspiration and gives them the confidence that they will be able to get this done.

4. A path forward

When people know what to do, they do it, and there is less hesitation. We spell out the next steps clearly (1–2–3, you’re done!) to make things as straightforward as possible for them.

5. A mobile-friendly design

Over 50% of our users are on mobile devices. They want to get life insurance anytime, anywhere, so we designed an easy, mobile UX.

6. Our promises

People want to know what Ladder does for them. We are in life insurance for our users. We are committed to doing right by them, and so we make promises right up front.

People want to feel ‘lighter’ when they buy life insurance, not burdened. We want them to know we have their backs. We have designed and built the kind of life insurance we want for ourselves — and the kind of life insurance they deserve.

7. Painting the vision

People want to check life insurance off their lists, so they can get back to the important business of living life. Their identities are rooted in things like being a good parent, someone who is responsible and gets things done.

Part of the promise of life insurance is that it gives people freedom and financial zen. And so our illustrations reflect that promise, showing the best parts of a life unstuck, like time spent reading to a child or doing yoga.

Once life insurance is checked off, people can go live their marvelous lives, knowing they have done the right thing.

“It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

We often say that the life insurance industry can’t be fixed by putting a nice front-end on the existing, broken process. Much of what Ladder has built is below the surface. While this post covers what people will see when they visit Ladder, there are also things you might not see that are integral to the experience and fundamental to our design. We’ll share some of those elements with you in Part 2 of this series.

Why any of this matters

So, what? Why is life insurance important, and why are we so passionate about helping people solve their life insurance problem?

Because those people matter.

When someone unexpectedly dies, it upends the lives of everyone around them. While life insurance can’t fix the gaping hole, we can bridge the financial gap that allows a family to stay in their community or send children to college. A GoFundMe campaign can be a lovely outpouring of love and support during a tragic time, but it is simply not sufficient. No one should have to rely on it.

We understand how much life insurance can change a life because of our founding story.

The very best part of growing a great company is building something that matters to real people. It’s why we get up in the morning. It’s what inspires us as we tackle such a huge and complex problem.

After a tragedy, people can and do rise up again. We get to be part of fueling their resilience and are so happy to be able to help.

Stay tuned for Part 2, and see what’s next by following Ladder on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium.


(1) Life Insurance Coverage Gap Substantial and Growing (LIMRA, September 2015)