Blue Sky - case study

The client

RSA Digital was the in house design team of Royal Sun Alliance an insurance company that has major operations in the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and Canada. RSA digital create and maintain the digital products for insurance providers in more than 100 countries.

My role

Whilst working with the RSA digital team I was asked if I would undertake another project called BlueSky. The team working with me on this was small, just myself and a UI designer with the stakeholders being Head of Design and Head of digital.

As Product/UX designer on the project, I was responsible for the UX strategy, product design and UI design. The included but not limited to, competitor analysis, stakeholder interviews, online card sorts, user interviews, exploring influence from outside of the insurance world and UI design.

This included questioning every aspect of home insurance products what makes up the products, how and why users data was captured and what technologies were being used to deliver products.

The Challenges

The project was supported by the Head of design and Head of digital but without the knowledge of stakeholders on my other projects. My time management was a big challenge, I needed to deliver on tight timeframes across existing projects and combine ideas and research where ever possible to reduce the workload.

With the Blue Sky project the temptation was to dream big, the problem was not to lose sight of the deliverables, what is actually possible, the goal and of course, the product needed to actually work and be legally compliant.

Face to face access with the end users was always going to be a hard on this project, with little or time to recruit we needed to use other ways of testing ideas and gather insights.

The process

With a project that has no limits, one of the most important thing we needed to do was, defining the strategy. What was the vision for the product and what were the achievable goals. This would help direct us to the desired outcome (the ultimate user experience).

To help gain an understanding of what we were trying to build and why, we scheduled a kickoff meeting. The kickoff brought all the key players together to set expectations for both the team (Myself and a UI designer) and stakeholders (head of design and head of digital). We covered a high-level outline of the product’s purpose and what the stakeholders’ expectations are (such as timescales, what would be delivering and what success looks like).

The next stage was to defines the product’s journey. We used a simple technique called “working backwards” to plan the route toward the desired outcome. As the name suggests, we started with the target market and worked our way back until we got to the minimum set of requirements to satisfy what we were trying to achieve.

Once the product vision and strategy was defined, we started product research (which naturally includes user and market research). We decided to use online questionnaires, using open-ended questions and card sorts to gain qualitative information. We added this information with analytics and already known understandings for a more detailed analysis.

For the competitive research we gathered a comprehensive analysis of competitor products and grouped the results of the analysis in a comparable way, we looked at direct competitors and indirect. During this time the team also looked outside of the industry (E-commerce) to gain further knowledge on product structure and presentation.

The ideation then started with us brainstorm on a range of creative ideas that address the project goals. Using techniques including sketching, user journey map (for visualising concepts and the overall interactions with a product) and job stories (from jobs-to-be-done) for defining a problem without being prescriptive of a solution.

During this phase, it was critical not only to generate ideas but also to confirm that the most important design assumptions are valid. To do this we ran a series of workshops using techniques from design sprints.

Once concepts were created we turned these into wireframes as a visual guide to represent page’s structure, as well as its hierarchy and key elements. These were used to discuss ideas with the design team and stakeholders, and to assist the work of the visual designs.

After the ideation phase, we had a clear understanding of what we were creating and it was time to prototype. We decided to starts small, designing a few core screens of the product (such as key user flows) and make iterations as required.

To testing the product and gather validation we undertook guerrilla testing, this helped us ensure the design concept works as intended. Due to constraints we conducted testing for the product using resources we already had.

The outcomes

Throughout this project we constantly pushed boundaries and ways of working to gain knowledge and improve our methods. The Utilisation of online remote tools such as, Optimal Workshop gave us the ability to test and gain insights quickly. This gave us the ability to showcase results in design reviews and to our stakeholders and eventually led to the design team having a wider access to online remote tools and increased the teams ability to test theories.

During the research we looked into, application program interfaces (API’s) to see what data already existed. By using an API we could reduce the question set and there for the load on the user. For example, from an address we could gather information about the property, number of bedrooms and bathrooms with the users just needing to confirm the information rather than enter information. This enabled us to design a journey that was like telling a story and use written language in a friendly easily understood way.

Of course, the downside to our lean approach was there’s was no direct interaction with users, and, thus, it’s impossible to dive more deeply into the results collected during research and testing. With more awareness across the wider business and a bigger budget, putting the prototype into a formal lab session would have help us gain further insights and get future buy-in from the stakeholders much easier.

With more time it would have been exciting to explore further into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) to discover if we could reduce the cognitive load further and pushed data capture further away from the norm of a simple online form.

Overall the project was a great success, the design was used as a starting point for another project and helped with the company a very large contract with a new brand. Whilst the overall approach and learning were adopted and used for the companies large transformation again saving time and money.

Recommendation

“Dickon is a unicorn. He’s a hugely talented designer that can move between high level strategic thinking and beautifully crafted UI. Since joining the team at RSA he has quickly had a positive impact on the team, gained a great reputation amongst his stakeholders and impressed on every level. I can highly recommend Dickon and look forward to any opportunity to work with him in the future.”

Steve Testing, Design + Leadership

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