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Pitfalls, Tips, and the Evolution of the Online User Experience

Pitfalls, Tips, and the Evolution of the Online User Experience
Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2018 by Bridget Mortland
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In part 2 of my interview series with Adam Kerr, our UX Manager at Businessolver, we dug into the evolution of user experience and important considerations in building a better benefits experience. Take a look.

tips-on-the-user-experienceWhat are you most excited about when it comes to the evolution of UI/UX?

The next evolution I hope to see for user interfaces and interaction design is to make our systems feel less like systems and more like natural conversations with other humans. As conversation is the most natural form of human interaction, I think we will see more and more complex systems begin to present themselves in this manner. By framing a complex process as a conversation, you can simplify a process and offer advice and education along the way. Think of Turbo Tax, a company who has been doing this for years. By removing all the complexities of the system and talking the user through the process, it feels like you’re just having a conversation with a trusted tax professional.

What are the most common mistakes you see within UI/UX?

People don’t read. They scan. Study after study has shown that people don’t read on the internet; instead we scan and skim. We quickly glance through text looking for keywords that might lead us to the information we are seeking. If we don’t find it quickly, we move on. Knowing this, text on your site should be brief and to the point. The most important information should come first followed by critical supporting information.

Dangers of too much choice: As we all know, benefits are complicated. Often, employees need several options to get the coverage they need. It’s very tempting for employers to assume that more choice means happier employees, but research tells us this isn’t always the case. Often when given excessive choices, it actually makes it more difficult to make a decision. We start to compare each option against all other possibilities, weighing pros and cons in our mind and trying to predict our future needs.

When we are required to decide, excessive choice makes it much more stressful and time consuming, and often leads to buyer’s remorse. To help the user make difficult decisions and feel more confident in their choice, we built a suite of decision support tools in Benefitsolver. This helps narrow down the decision points being made.

  • Text written more for benefits experts than employees: LTD, EOI, DV, AE… I see a lot of industry jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations that most employees aren’t familiar with. They are not benefits experts. Acronyms and abbreviations should be avoided and spelled out completely. I also often see text that is written more in an attempt to cover liability or prevent a previous issue from recurring. Instead, it should be written to inform the employee about the election they are currently making. If there is excessive text, the user will likely skip the entire block of text and blindly make their election.
  • Unneeded images: When reviewing homepage layouts both internally and for clients, I often see decorative images being used just to fill white space. While purely decorative images aren’t necessarily bad, if they are added to a page that is already full of competing information, they tend to just add more noise. Images can be very powerful and help draw your user’s attention. Be sure you are using them to support the information on the page and not as a distraction from what you are trying to convey.

If you could provide three tips to HR professionals when thinking about their employee’s benefits administration experience, what would they be?

  1. Truly know and understand your employees. It’s very easy to make assumptions about who our users are and what they want and need. We all fall victim to designing based on our options instead of thinking about the goals of those who will actually be impacted. Sit down and talk with a small sample of employees regularly to gain valuable insight and build empathy. Brief, informal interviews can go a long way in understanding your employees’ needs, what goals they have and what is currently causing them stress.
  1. Organize content well and test. If you have a lot of information to share, it’s important to take the time to organize it well. A good rule to follow is presenting a single topic per page and logically organizing those pages into sections that make sense to your users.
  1. Get feedback from employees before and after Annual Enrollment. We all know that Annual Enrollment is a critical time for your employees to use their benefits portal. We need to ensure we are presenting the right information and that it is easy to find and understand. Before you open, test your content among a sample of employees. Use test environments to watch them interact with the content and enroll in a mock Annual Enrollment. Additionally, be sure to add a survey to the end of Annual Enrollment to capture feedback for next year.

Having a solid user experience for your employee is critical in their benefits engagement and results. Interested in learning more? Check out our latest webinar, “From passive user to engaged consumer.”

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Miss out on part one? Check out the beginning of the story here