Online car insurance usability benchmarking

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Online Car Insurance Usability Report Measuring the User Experience of 20 Irish, UK & US car insurance websites

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This is from 2007 so sites will all have improved since then (one would have hoped!). This report led to a series of successful projects with Hibernian/Aviva.

Transcript of Online car insurance usability benchmarking

Page 1: Online car insurance usability benchmarking

Online Car Insurance Usability Report

Measuring the User Experience of 20 Irish, UK & US car insurance websites

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IntroductionAbout this reportThis report tests the user experience offered by twenty car insurance websites - most from Ireland, but with UK and US sites included for comparison.The purpose is to rank the performance of these sites, and to highlight best practice.

Background to the online insurance marketBuying car insurance online is becoming increasingly popular – as far back as 2002, Forrester research revealed that the number of online car insurance buyers in Europe had doubled in the previous year. Follow-up work by the same organisation in 2005 showed that 63% of UK online adults expect to buy their next motor policy online.

Usability, not just priceWhile price is an crucial factor in buying decisions, having the best product offering is no good if visitors are too confused or frustrated by your site even to get a quote.

According to the 2005 Forrester research, “The process of getting a quote is still dogged by usability problems: 31% of quote forms end with a consumer leaving in frustration, without getting a price.” The top problems they identified were a lack of contextual help, illegible text, and inconsistent interface elements.

So making sure that your site is easy to use for visitors could be a considerable competitive advantage.

As Stephan Briggs, eBusiness enterprise manager, Lloyds TSB Insurance, points out: “Online insurance is an extremely competitive market, but if we understand the customer better and provide a better online experience, we can get the commercial edge. This is only the beginning, we have much still to learn and do, but it is an excellent start.”

Introduction 2

Benchmarking Results 3

Best value of the Irish sites 4

Scoring Methodology 5

Site Scores 6

Personas we used 26

Testing Criteria 28

Wrap Up 36

Table of Contents

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Benchmarking ResultsProgressive 76%

All State 75%

Esurance 70%

Churchill 68%

Hibernian Direct 67%

Lloyds 64%

Quinn Direct 63%

Allianz Direct 63%

Nationwide 61%

Direct Line 59%

Insure.ie 59%

FBD 54%

Tesco 53%

Geico 50%

123.ie 44%

BestQuote.ie 42%

One Direct 41%

Confused 28%

Axa 0%

Eagle Star 0%

Results at a glanceThe top Irish site was Hibernian Direct, which ranked 5th overall with a score of 67%, 9% behind the winner, US site Progressive.

There were three Irish sites in the top ten, Hibernian (67%), Quinn Direct (63%) and Allianz Direct (63%).

Two Irish sites (AXA and Eagle Star) managed to score zero, for bringing site visitors to a complete dead end.

The average score for Irish sites was 44% - a grade of poor. The average score for US sites was 68% - good.

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Best value of the Irish sites

Tesco is tops for young male driversThe best value for Greg, our 20 year old male driver persona was Tesco. They offered fully comprehensive and third party fire & theft at €1,142 and €961 respectively.

The worst value for Greg was 123.ie. They offered fully comprehensive and third party insurance at €2,259 and €1,947 respectively, about double the price of Tesco.

Both, One Direct and Allianz Direct could not quote Greg for the details we provided.

Quinn Direct is best for female driversFor Karen, our 30 year old solicitor, Quinn Direct offered the best value at only €418 for fully comprehensive insurance. They could not quote for third party, fire and theft for the value of the car we submitted. The best value for third party fire and theft was 123.ie, at only €376.

The worst value for Karen was One Direct. They offered fully comprehensive and third party insurance at €655 and €615 respectively.

The personas we used are detailed on pages 26 & 27

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Scoring methodologyEach of the criteria was scored as follows1: Good implementation of the criterion0: Reasonable effort in implementing the criterion, but still with room for improvement.-1: Failure to implement the criterion or implementing it so poorly so as to render it all but useless.

The criteria were divided into three categories, functionality, content and visual design, which were weighted 40%, 40% and 20% respectively, to reflect the number of criteria in each section.

The score in each category was first calculated as a percentage, and then This ensures that a low (or high) mark in a category with few criteria does not unduly skew the total.

Background

All sites were evaluated and scored from April 22nd – 28th, 2006.

Each of the sites was independently evaluated by two IQ Content analysts using the same scoring scheme.

The analysts used the same two personas generated for the evaluations, containing details of two different imaginary people looking for an insurance quote. The details included addresses, driving and employment histories, car ownership details and coverage requirements.

From this, the overall percentage score was calculated, the following grades being given to the total:

0-45%: Poor45-54%: Adequate55-69%: Good70-100%: Excellent

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Progressivehttp://www.progressive.com

What they do well• Offer multiple quotes which can be compared at a

glance • Progressive provide clear security information as well

as easy access to help • Great flexibility on some of their form fields allowing

the visitor to get on with the task at hand rather than getting bogged down by error messages.

Where they need to improve• Offer an obvious means to get to the previous

screen. Currently, the back button works fine, but visitors may expect an explicit previous or back button from having used other online forms.

Overall: 76% - ExcellentFunctionality: 77%

Content: 80%

Visual Design: 67%

Don’t make me think! Instead of forcing an error on the visitor, Progressive take the liberty of fixing the error

Error messages provide a clear call to action

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All Statehttp://www.allstate.com

What they do well• All State offer a choice of quotes, a quick one for a

“ballpark” figure and a more comprehensive alternative.

• An easy way to get help through a call-back facility • A clear and prominent security and privacy policy

Where they need to improve• Improve the contextual help on the forms in case

visitors get stuck • Explain the financial impact of certain questions

clearly • Watch out for data validation – make the fields more

flexible

Overall: 75% - ExcellentFunctionality: 86%

Content: 75%

Visual Design: 50%

Alternative methods of contact are prominent in case visitor runs into difficulty

Is a comma really that “special” to merit an error message?

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Esurancehttp://www.esurance.com

What they do well• Esurance have a navigable progress bar, which is

much more in tune with conventional web navigation. • Esurance’s use of plain English is exemplary. Rather

than use internal jargon, they use clear and concise information. In short, they speak the visitor’s language.

Where they need to improve• Esurance need to pay attention to cross-browser

issues. For example, visitors using Safari on Mac can’t save their quote. This is a bit shoddy and should easily be remedied.

Overall: 70% - ExcellentFunctionality: 86%

Content: 60%

Visual Design: 58%

Kudos to Esurance speaking their visitors language and not internal jargon

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Churchillhttp://www.churchill.co.uk

What they do well• Churchill provide a number of ways to help if the

visitor runs into difficulty, by phone or via an online chat facility

• Churchill get out of the way of the visitor’s goal by linking to assumptions rather displaying them up front.

Where they need to improve• Churchill is certainly not alone in this but the number

of screens taken up with getting the car details is overkill and seems to reflect the internal challenges the system faces with matching makes and models rather than what is easiest for the visitor.

Overall: 68% - GoodFunctionality: 64%

Content: 65%

Visual Design: 83%

Churchill keep assumptions on which quote is based out of the way

Is my address personal or business: who cares and why?

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Hibernian Directhttp://www.hiberniandirect.ie

What they do well• Hibernian’s overall visual design is among the best.

They obviously put a lot of work into their user interface and it shows.

• At the quote stage, they offer a comparison of quotes, full party versus fire and theft, eliminating extraneous questions and forcing the work onto the website, away from the visitor which is how it should be

Where they need to improve• Eliminate the assumptions page and any extra steps

in getting to the quote page • Remove any extra questions that are not required for

the quote i.e. “Where did you hear about us” • Keep any input error messages on the screen rather

than confined to a popup window for better interactivity

Quote screen shows a comparison as well as optional extras

Why is this question important and why is it mandatory?

Overall: 67% - GoodFunctionality: 50%

Content: 75%

Visual Design: 83%

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Lloydshttp://www.insurance.co.uk

What they do well• Clear quote process with options to easily amend

different aspects of the details. • Use of the security code would first seem to be a

pain, but it soon becomes apparent that it’s there for a good reason, to make for a better customer experience.

Where they need to improve• Clicking on the “Call us” link leads the visitor to a

dead-end, there’s no way to get back to the quote. Making the phone number on the page more prominent could solve this problem

Overall: 64% - GoodFunctionality: 55%

Content: 65%

Visual Design: 83%

Quote has good visual prominence

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Quinn Directhttp://www.quinn-direct.com

What they do well• Quinn Direct ranked first out of twenty websites for

visual design, so their credentials in that department are without question. Their online forms are laid out in an intuitive and logical manner.

• One excellent example of Quinn Direct’s design is that they have eliminated the website global navigation from the quote process, reducing the risk of a misclick and throwing visitors off the task at hand.

• At the quote stage, it is very easy to go back and change information without having to restart the whole process.

Where they need to improve• Simply repeating the question in the help text is not

enough. Visitors need explanations of what certain terms are and what effect they will have on their quote

• Match the number of steps to the number of screens; this is what your visitors will expect

• Reduce the burden on visitors by asking fewer questions

Overall: 63% - GoodFunctionality: 41%

Content: 70%

Visual Design: 92%

Quinn Direct eliminate the extraneous global site navigation, keeping focus on the task at hand during the quote process

Error message and help text are at odds. €20,000 or €40,000 which is it? (Original error was thrown because value of 20,000 included a comma)

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Allianz Directhttp://www.allianzdirect.ie

What they do well• The step by step process on the Allianz site is clear

and intuitive, giving visitors an instant snapshot of where they are in the quote process

• Giving comparative quotes also helps to reduce the burden of work on the visitor

Where they need to improve• Occupation preoccupation: although not exclusive to

Allianz, we see this issue on a number of sites; having to choose an occupation from a really long dropdown list. This is a potentially frustrating task – a visitor’s occupation may not match exactly those offered in the list, so what happens then?

• No navigation: although it is clear for visitors where they are in the process, they can only go in one direction; forwards. Allowing visitors to go back a previous step to edit their data is a standard convention and one that should be employed here.

Overall: 63% - GoodFunctionality: 55%

Content: 65%

Visual Design: 75%

Preoccupation with occupation - This seems like a lot of work to impose on your visitors

One step per page so it’s clear exactly how many steps are left

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Nationwidehttp://www.nationwide.co.uk

What they do well• Although we’d like to see the minimum number of

screens before a quote form, Nationwide offer clear information on what you’ll need before you start which is a real help.

• Compared to some of the Irish sites, Nationwide offers useful occupation categories rather than an exhaustive list of specific jobs.

Where they need to improve• Some fields are not flexible. In particular, telephone

numbers should be able to accept a range of different formats

• It would be very handy you got a full summary of what you’re getting with the quote price. You wouldn’t book a flight without being able to double-check the dates and destinations.

Overall: 61% - GoodFunctionality: 68%

Content: 50%

Visual Design: 67%

Instead of an exhaustive list of occupations, Nationwide provide general categories

Fields like phone number should allow for a number of possible inputs, i.e. they should have greater flexibility

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Directlinehttp://www.directline.com

What they do well• Directline offers simple contextual help, clearly

explaining insurance terms that visitors may not be completely familiar with.

• Clear and unambiguous input validation errors are also displayed, highlighting what action needs to be performed by the user to remedy the situation

Where they need to improve• Show a phone number up front for visitors who need

help with their quote, rather than making them click through a series of links.

• Employ a more user centric approach rather than a programmer centric one.

Overall: 59% - GoodFunctionality: 68%

Content: 45%

Visual Design: 67%

For the most part, Directline provide good contextual help in plain English.

Choosing a car make and model is longwinded and drawn out. Ease of programming may be a higher priority than ease of use.

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Insure.iehttp://www.insure.ie

What they do well• Insure.ie provide a good introduction page on how

the quote can be discounted. This is a rare example of a good screen to put before your visitors before they get to the quote stage.

• Meaningful contextual help is provided (however it is not visible on Firefox for Windows, or on Mac)

Where they need to improve• Though a more general point, and not confined just

to insure.ie, they need to watch out for cross-browser issues. For example, the well written contextual help remains invisible to Firefox and Mac users.

• Error messages could be improved significantly. Being displayed one by one in a JavaScript alert box is not as good as being displayed on the same screen as the form.

• ALT attributes should be added to all images. You may be tempted to assume the visually impaired will not need car insurance, but even if this is the case, they may be tasked with getting a quote for someone else.

Overall: 57% - GoodFunctionality: 50%

Content: 60%

Visual Design: 75%

Example of designing for Internet Explorer only. Insure.ie provides reasonable help but only Internet Explorer users can see it.

Insure.ie give good help and explain why certain questions are asked

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FBD Insurancehttp://www.fbd.ie

What they do well• FBD are only a few small steps away from achieving

a much higher score. They keep the information needed for a quote to a minimum, not bothering to ask for name, whether your car is a right hand drive or any other marketing driven questions.

• They clearly explain some of the financial terms like cover type and no claims discount.

Where they need to improve• Clearly explain that the quote has been saved and

that the reference number can be used to retrieve it. Currently this is not explicitly stated and could easily be missed, meaning that a really useful piece of functionality could go unnoticed.

• Take the phone number out of the footer and display it more prominently

• Consider not asking for coverage type. Instead, offer comparative premiums on the quote page where visitors can compare the prices and choose from them

• Offer more information on what the quote is based on at the quote stage rather than displaying the assumptions screen up front

Overall: 54% - AdequateFunctionality: 45%

Content: 65%

Visual Design: 55%

Jargon-free help explaining the different cover types

FBD save your quote but never state it explicitly, instead we have to remember the reference number to retrieve it.

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Tescohttp://www.tesco.ie

What they do well• Tesco provide good help text, helping to eliminate

any confusion that their visitors may have. • At the quote stage, Tesco offers a choice of cover

levels, allowing visitors to choose between the lowest price or the highest level of cover as well as adding on additional options.

Where they need to improve• There are far too many screens to click through to

get to a quote. This is a real challenge for Tesco as they offer a diverse range of services and products, all of which are offered from the homepage

• Form usability could be improved by employing standard design guidelines like clearly flagging any mandatory fields and removing any non-essential questions

Overall: 53% - AdequateFunctionality: 36%

Content: 75%

Visual Design: 42%

Good comparison of different levels of coverage

Who’s important here, the customer or the marketing department

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Geicohttp://www.geico.com

What they do well• Geico provide and clear and unambiguous privacy

and security statement, going some way to gain a visitor’s trust

Where they need to improve• Remove the guff from the bottom of every form. It is

likely that it just adding to the visual clutter and distracting the visitor from the task at hand.

• Provide better means to navigate forwards and back over the different screens in the process

• Eliminate any needless steps and match the number of screens to the number of steps, otherwise it is far too difficult for the visitor to see where they are in the process.

Overall: 50% - AdequateFunctionality: 45%

Content: 55%

Visual Design: 50%Not only is information handled securely, but kept private too.

Show me the money! Then tell me about any discounts that apply

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123.iehttp://www.123.ie

What they do well• Despite their low score, this site is within a few small

steps of a much better result. • In terms of visual design, the 123.ie website is clean

and uncluttered.

Where they need to improve• Need to clearly distinguish between mandatory and

optional fields. Currently (and unhelpfully), some fields are marked as mandatory but in fact all are

• Again, we see a preoccupation with occupation, but this time it’s twice as bad, forcing visitors to choose their employer’s business as well as their own occupation.

• Get rid of extraneous questions: is area vehicle used really relevant. If so, what does it actually mean – if I drive to work through four postal districts, how do I show that?

• Put all input validation errors on screen at once rather than one-by-one in a JavaScript pop-up

Overall: 44% - PoorFunctionality: 36%

Content: 35%

Visual Design: 75%

Why bother frontloading the quote process with a page of assumptions? Instead, just provide a link to them.

All input fields are available on one screen, well organised and well laid out

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Best Quotehttp://www.bestquote.ie

What they do well• Unlike some of the other websites, BestQuote.ie has

a direct mapping between screens and number of steps

Where they need to improve• Remove distractions from the quote process.

Currently, there are a number of links at the top of the page which if clicked by accident, could mean having to start again.

• Provide a phone number if visitors get into difficulties and need to ring someone

• Make sure all errors are well handled, both user errors and system. We found duplicate input validation error messages as well as a server error page when we went through the quote process.

Overall: 42% - PoorFunctionality: 50%

Content: 75%

Visual Design: 83%

Nice and short stepped process showing the visitor that it should be a quick and painless process

Not a very polite error message for the visitor. Did they break the site?

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One Directhttp://www.onedirect.ie

What they do well• The facility to both save and have the quote emailed

to potential customers is a particularly useful one and is often lacking on other well-known insurance websites so OneDirect are to be commended for offering it.

Where they need to improve• While emailing the quote may be of great benefit,

including a 520 kilobyte PDF attachment advertising prize bonds is not. On a slow dial-up connection, this could frustrate the most patient of visitors

• Failure to offer quote in simple language, rather than using internal terms like One Star, Two Star, Three Star to describe their levels of cover.

• Too many questions – questions could be moved to “additional discounts section” on the quick quote page rather than getting in the way

• Failure to design with web standards, which means visitors on browsers other than Internet Explorer will have a different user experience. The danger here is they may not bother experiencing the site at all as a result.

Overall: 41% - PoorFunctionality: 32%

Content: 55%

Visual Design: 33%

Not just how many steps but also what those steps are

Input field is too short for visitor’s address

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Confusedhttp://www.confused.com

What they do well• Confused.com provide options to save and email the

quote • As a broker they provide a wide range of quotes to

choose from

Where they need to improve• Visually, confused.com is very cluttered. The design

is trying to be a little bit cheeky or funny, but this rarely works.

• There are far too many screens and far too many questions for what should be a simple quote.

Overall: 28%Functionality: 36%

Content: 30%

Visual Design: 8%

Adding insult to injury. Not only do confused.com make visitors answer a trivial question, but they’re even not happy with the response!

Total clutter

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Axahttp://www.axa.ie

What they do well• Similar to Eagle Star, from an online perspective,

AXA do not cut the mustard. A clear “Get Quote” call to action results in a dead-end, not what the visitor had in mind.

Where they need to improve• If they really think they are doing their customers a

favour by not providing an online quotation system why not state it upfront rather than having a prominent call to action that has the potential to mislead?

Overall: 0% - PoorFunctionality: 0%

Content: 0%

Visual Design: 0%

Axa’s call to action on the homepage leads visitors into a dead end

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Eagle Starhttp://www.eaglestar.ie

What they do well• Honestly? Nothing.

Where they need to improve• In the offline world they may offer competitive quotes

with high levels of cover but online none of this matters. With the homepage offering “Online Motor Insurance – Go on Cover Now” to the subsequent page which promises “Get a Motor Quote with the option to go on Cover now”, the visitor is led to a page that claims, despite all appearances that they “do want your business and we feel that the most effective way to tailor the cover and price that best suits your needs is to speak to you directly on the phone”. This restricts their visitors in so many ways, as the phone lines are open from 8.30 to 5.30, 15 hours short of a 24 online presence. It’s like having a retail store on Grafton Street and not bothering to open in December.

Overall: 0% - PoorFunctionality: 0%

Content: 0%

Visual Design: 0%

From the initial promise of on-line motor insurance, visitors end up at a dead-end.

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Persona 1: Greg, young male driverGreg, young male driver

Greg is a 20 year old computer science student who lives in Lucan. He is entering his final year in university. He has been driving his mother’s car for the last three years on her insurance policy (as a named driver) and passed his driving test three months ago.

He spends almost two hours a day commuting to Dublin City University on Dublin’s north side. Coming into his final year, this would be time better spent in the library. To this end, his parents have bought him a secondhand Toyota Yaris (1 litre engine), registered in 2000. He has worked hard all summer to save for his first insurance premium in his name.

Name: Greg CooperDate of Birth: 6th April 1986Occupation: Student (final year)Car: Toyota Yaris (1 litre/998 CC), registered 2000, value, €7,000.Driving for: three years in total, all on parent’s insuranceFull licence: since 3 months ago

Greg’s goals Greg’s overall goal is to simply get on the road as

cheaply as possible. His goals on an insurance site are to get a quote

quickly as he will be comparing quotes from a number of websites before making a purchase decision.

He is looking for the cheapest quote just to get driving and is not too concerned with the level of cover on offer, he will happily go for the minimum if it gets him the cheapest quote.

Interface requirements Provide a quick quote Minimise the number of “obstacle screens” before

getting to the quote form Keep the number of questions to a minimum Provide information on any possible reductions

that can be made to his premium

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Persona 2: Karen, young professionalKaren, young professional

Karen is 30 and works for a medium sized solicitor’s firm in Dublin. She is originally from Galway and has been driving for 12 years, the last 10 of which have been on her own car.

She regularly drives home to Galway to her parents and at often heads off to different parts of the country for weekend breaks with her friends. Last year, a friend was involved in an accident but it was not their fault. This incident crystallised in her mind the need for fully comprehensive insurance. She heard the whole process was a big hassle as her friend wasn’t sure if she had to ring her insurance company or a solicitor.As she works in busy legal practice, she can only use the internet for 30-40 minutes during lunch breaks and early in the morning for 20-30 minutes.

Name: Karen WallaceDate of Birth: 6th April 1976Occupation: SolicitorCar: Toyota Corolla (1.4 litre/1398 CC), manufactured 2006, value: €20,000Full licence: 10 years

Karen’s goals Karen needs to get a quote quickly but also

needs the ability to save and retrieve a quote quickly for comparison between different websites as she doesn’t have time to compare all websites in one sitting.

Alternatively, if she could print it put easily or receive it into her email mailbox, she would be happy

She wants the maximum amount of cover in case of an accident

Interface requirements Provide a facility to save and quickly retrieve

quotes Provide different levels of cover that can be

added to the quote Give clear details on the claims process Provide a printable format Email the quote in addition to providing it on

screen

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Testing criteria: FunctionalityHow did we develop the criteria?

We developed a specific set of heuristics for the online insurance market, to make sure the criteria were fair and appropriate.

We categorised the criteria under the categories that we use when conducting client usability audits

1.Functionality: does the process of getting a quote work well and simply for the user?

2.Content: is there enough clear and concise information to help the user through the process, and ensure the credibility of site

3.Visual Design: does the look and feel of the website complement the functionality and content rather than distract from it?

1. Are the number of screens/clicks kept to a minimum before getting to quote form? Visitors want to get a quote quickly. Assumptions and terms and conditions pages can be linked to instead of being displayed up front.

2. Is it easy to move forward and back through process? Can visitors easily navigate between the different steps? They may want to change details, add drivers or change the level of coverage to see if it alters their quote. There should be a clear path to navigate in both directions, and entered data should retained between screens.

3. Are mandatory fields highlighted as such?Any fields that are optional should be differentiated from ones that are mandatory, letting visitors choose to enter the minimum amount of information.

Churchill keep assumptions on which quote is based out of the way

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Testing criteria: Functionality4. Can quote be saved for later? Visitors may not have all the required information with them or wish to save their quote for comparison with other websites. Allowing them to save their quote easily means they won’t have to retype all their information when they return.

5. Is quote emailed to visitor?Visitors may well compare several quotes from different companies so having them all in their inbox is of huge benefit. Sites should offer the feature, and crucially tell visitors about it.

6. Minimum number of questions asked?Questions like “Where did you hear about us?” are of no benefit to the visitor during the quote process but may help someone in the marketing department fill out a report. The more this type of question is asked, the more likely it is that your visitors will become frustrated and abandon your site.

Allianz Direct use one step per page so it’s clear exactly how many steps are left. However, a description of what each step entails would be better.

7. Is it clear where you are in the process?This is essential so that visitors can build a mental map of the process and from that estimate how long it will take. The number of steps and current location in the process should be clearly outlined, and the number of steps should match the actual number of screens.

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Testing criteria: Functionality8. Input validation: are input validation errors clearly flagged and noticeable?The ease with which visitors can recover from errors is very important. If an error is made, the fields with the errors should be clearly identified altogether on the form (not in a separate JavaScript alert). For extra kudos, predicting and correcting common errors can be of real value.

9. Is data input clear and flexible?Does the process allow user to choose how they enter information such as telephone numbers, postcodes, date and engine size (e.g. is entering 1.4 for engine capacity allowed, or only 1400?). The system should allow spaces, commas, dashes or at least clearly state the required format.

10. Are multiple quotes given for same criteria?Rather than ask visitors up front what level of cover they wanted, why not give them a comparative quote?

11. Can I change data and recalculate my quote (i.e. add/remove excess)?Different visitors will have different goals. Where some visitors want to find the minimum premium, others may base their purchase decision on maximum cover. It should be easy for the visitor to add or remove options (including adding drivers, and changing car type or excess amounts) to see how it affects their premium.

Hibernian Direct’s quote screen shows a comparison as well as optional extras

Don’t make me think! Instead of forcing an error on the visitor, Progressive take the liberty of fixing the error

It reduces the number of questions they need to answer, and makes the differences clear. It should be easy to change the level of cover on and recalculate the price on the quote screen itself.

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Testing criteria: Content1. Is it clear why certain questions are asked?In some cases, occupation affects the price of insurance, but it should be clear why particular details are required just to give a quote. For example, why do they even need my name, when all I want is a quote? Does Amazon make you register before you see the price of a book? Explanations of why questions are asked build credibility.

2. Does it explain the financial impact of questions: i.e. this could reduce your quote?Related to the above point, it’s valuable to explain how a certain answer may be reduce the final quote.

FBD Insurance offer argon-free help explaining the different cover types

3. Is there a explanation of jargon?Jargon reflects complex terms or language most familiar within the organisation or industry at large. Will all your visitors understand the acronym NCB (No Claims Bonus)? On an Irish site we saw “Is your car imported?”. Since Ireland has no indigenous car industry, every car is imported (but this isn’t quite what they meant). Avoiding the jargon altogether, or at least explaining it minimises the annoyance or confusion you create for your visitors, whom you can’t assume know your vocabulary.

Insure.ie give good help and explain why certain questions are asked

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Testing criteria: Content4. Is it clear what I’ve been quoted for?The price is important of course, but visitors need to know exactly what they’re getting. Does the quote include excesses, bonus protection, is it third party, fire and theft or fully comprehensive? If your quote process involves a lot of steps, visitors may have forgotten the options they selected earlier in the process.

5. Is it clear what assumptions are being made?Most insurance quotes are based on a standard list of assumptions, i.e. no convictions, no modified engines etc. Are the visitors aware of these assumptions - with a clear statement on the quote page that the quote is based on assumptions (and a link to those assumptions). Having a long list at the start of the process is no good; it will probably be ignored.

6. Is there information on how easy it is to make a claim?Not just on the homepage, but through the quote process. This helps to engender trust with your visitors and makes it clear that if they do sign up with you, they’ll get good service.

7. Is information handled securely (using SSL) and is this explained?Visitors may need some reassurance before submitting their confidential information online. We looked for SSL implementation and a clear statement on security that would allay any fears that visitors may have.

Geico make their position clear. Not only is information handled securely, but kept private too.

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Testing criteria: Content10. Is meaningful contextual help provided?This can relate to jargon, but also to questions that are ambiguous. One example we noted was the term “Employment” - was it expecting a yes or no answer, a job title or an employer name. Apart from better labelling, contextual help would have been nice.

8. Is there a phone number on hand if I run into difficulty in answering a question?Visitors may not need to ring you, but they’ll get very annoyed if they want to and they can’t. A prominently-placed phone number or prominent link to one makes the most sense.

9. Is it clear what information will be used for (privacy policy)?Are visitors going to be swamped with email from your company because they received a quote via email from you? Hopefully not, but they should at least be told, via a clear privacy policy with prominent links to it (especially near particularly sensitive input fields like email address).

All State make the phone number prominent in case visitor runs into difficulty

For the most part, Directline provide good contextual help in plain English.

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Testing criteria: Visual Design1. Are fonts readable i.e. of sufficient size and contrast?Screen resolutions are getting bigger, just as more older people are going online. The size of headings, main text and text in drop-downs should be readable, and it should be possible to increase the text size using browser controls?

2. Are ALT tags used for graphical text elements?This is the most basic of accessibility issues for blind or partially sighted users. Remember, blind people may be getting insurance for someone else! Text elements produced as graphics (such as headings or navigation buttons) should be accompanied by useful ALT tags.

3. Is the design clean & uncluttered?A clean design projects a positive image, but also makes complex functionality easier to understand.All pages (especially the quote page and those with lots of questions) should be clearly designed and easy to follow.

4. Are gratuitous images kept to a minimum or are they used where simple text would suffice?A bouncing telephone might seem like a cheery invitation to call customer service, but it could well annoy visitors, who (on sites such as these) want the facts, and nothing but the facts. Most often text is clearer, and images should be limited to those that add real value to the experience.

123.ie make input fields are available on one screen, well organised and well laid out

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Testing criteria: Visual Design5. Is there a clear visual hierarchy (i.e. important information like price visually prominent)?Many of these pages display large amounts of information, and visitors need to be able to tell quickly which is the most important. On pages with many questions, access to contextual help and a phone number to call should be more prominent than terms and conditions information. Text size and colour can help here, as can background colour and indentation.

Lloyds’ quote has good visual prominence

6. Is there clear signposting or calls to action?Given the interactivity of the quotes process – visitors are answering questions, entering information, making choices – it should be clear at each point what is the most obvious next step (such as continuing to the next screen in the process), and what are the other actions possible (going back to change a previous entry, looking up help, or calling a representative).

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Wrap-upOur hope with this report is that it will help all insurers understand how they can improve the service to their online customers.

How can we help?

Usability Evaluation & User Testing If your site was benchmarked and you would like

us to present our findings or perform a more detailed evaluation, please get in touch with us.

We can conduct a detailed usability evaluation or user testing of your website to improve the user experience of your visitors

Benchmarking Have your website benchmarked against its

peers by some of the best usability analysts in Europe.

Identify your website’s strengths and weaknesses relative to your competitors

About iQ Content

iQ Content is one of Europe’s leading internet consultancies, helping organisations to improve their websites, intranets and products through a range of content, usability, accessibility and training services.

We deliver websites that reflect our client’s core objectives while providing positive experiences for the user.

Many of Europe’s leading organisations, from all sectors – including

Vodafone, Deloitte, Tourism Ireland, BUPA

and many large public sector organisations – have benefited from iQ Content’s services.

For more information, visit: www.iqcontent.com

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Feedback, queries, comments?iQ Content LtdDocklands Innovation Park128 – 130 East Wall RdDublin 3

e: [email protected]: 01 817 0768www.iqcontent.com