In the design world, it’s a widely accepted fact that customers should be involved at every stage of the creation process of any product. This is a fact we took to heart when we set out to completely overhaul Genworth Mortgage Insurance’s website. Setting that as our foundation not only helped us build an immensely better site, it also helped us win HousingWire’s Tech100 Award.
Creating a customer-driven website design was a natural step for us. We work closely with our customers to develop new products, so why wouldn’t that be the case with our website?
We had to consider a few things before we had our kickoff. We knew it was critical to align our site’s functionality to our business needs but in what capacity would we involve our customers? Would we build multiple test sites based on how we thought they used the site or would we get them involved at the ground level?
These are some questions you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re redesigning your website for your business – mortgage insurance or otherwise. Before we dig into these, let’s discuss the “why” of involving your customers in the process.
Why Involve Your Customers?
The experience a user has on your website impacts your business outcomes directly. These days, customers expect you to meet their high expectations for user-experience on your website. That’s why we knew we wanted a customer-driven website design from the beginning. Our customers’ expectations were clear: make it fast, efficient, easy-to-use, and include a customizable knowledge base.
These expectations aren’t unrealistic. Site speed plays a huge part in whether your visitors stay on your site or not. Content is equally important as it can help visitors determine if you’re a credible source of information to solve their problems.
When you have a solid understanding of what your users expect from your website, use them to create a customer-driven website design to deliver on those promises. We have a few tips to help you as you design your website.
First, focus on delivering a speedy and efficient site. Second, invest in solutions that allow you to provide personalized content and notifications in real-time. Third, use that real-time personalization to help your customers navigate a self-service site through pop ups and directional messaging. Real-time personalization is an area we continue to develop especially given that 40% of customers will spend more time in personalized web experiences.
Involving your customers in your user-centric website design will ensure that your site meets the expectations that your customers set forth.
How Do You Involve Customers?
Involving customers in your web design process can seem like a headache, especially if you end up trying to accommodate too many peoples’ requests. There are a few steps you can take to easily include customers without making the process too difficult for you and your team.
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of investing in UX research. This type of research will give you the best insight into how users interact with your website. Those insights will be fundamental to building your customer-driven website design. Use analytics tools like Google Analytics or Tealeaf® to understand how your customers currently interact with your website and what their normal flow through your website is.
Next, go directly to your customers. There are tons of direct-to-customer methods you can employ during your research process. They include one-on-one meetings, online surveys, and focus groups. As you research, be sure to collect plenty of quantitative data as well as qualitative data. While web analytics are helpful, they’re not as insightful as watching a customer use your website in-person.
Finally, don’t think you’re done talking to your customers once you collect that initial batch of research. Gather data iteratively. Collect the up-front data and circle back with your customers after you’ve completed major project milestones. You want to test that the design and functionality of each build meets user expectations. If the expectations are met, move on to the next build. If not, make improvements and re-test with your customers.
Even if you’re not planning a complete overhaul of your website, you can still employ these practices when you build a new webpage or reconfigure your navigation.
What Do You Do with All That Customer Input?
Now that you’ve collected all the data you need on user behavior, you need to analyze it to develop your customer-driven website design.
First, analyze the user data you’ve collected so it’s in a usable and understandable format. Your data does you no good if no one can understand what it means.
Next, look at the three or four key groups of users that visit your website and develop user personas for them. You want to understand what each persona expects from your website. You should also figure out the differences in online experiences, social media savviness, and technological expertise across personas. Think about any external factors that could influence how those personas interact with your business’ online presence like slow internet connection. Working out these differences on a granular level can help you map out your design process to create a better user experience for everyone.
Remember, even if you’re operating in a B2B setting, you’re still interacting with people at the end of the day. While a person’s company and title can help you align with business objectives, building out user personas helps you fine-tune the interactions each segment has with your website.
When you have a thorough understanding of your key user personas, use those findings to align your website’s functionality with content. What we mean here is map out each persona’s journey through your website to match his/her job function, technology experience, industry expertise, and step in the buying cycle. A customer-driven website design involves not only the feedback you get from customers but also the understanding of how they move through your web content.
Genworth’s Customer-Driven Website Design
Once you’ve been through the process of collecting customer desires and behaviors and testing your website builds on them, you’ll be left to admire your results. Your website will not only be a better tool for your customers, but it will also make acquiring new customers and conducting business easier.
Here at Genworth MI, we recently launched our newly redesigned customer-driven website design. By using the process we outlined above, we transformed our website to make the traditionally complex process of acquiring mortgage insurance fast and easy.
The research we conducted helped us to identify what our customers loved about our existing site that they wanted to see in the new website. It also pointed to their key pain points as they moved through the site which dictated where we could make improvements.
Perhaps we’re proudest of the fact that our customers love the improvements we’ve made to the site. They say it’s not only easier to use but also better in terms of speed and efficiency. That feedback has not only made us popular among our customers. Our efforts to include our customers in our web development process won our new website HousingWire’s 2018 Tech100 Award. The award focuses on innovative tech solutions in the U.S. housing industry to include mortgage lending, services, and investment.
Our website overhaul has improved the lives of our customers as well as those who work for Genworth. Some of our website’s notable new features include:
- A customer-facing visual tracking system similar to those found on delivery service websites for package tracking
- Fewer data entry fields for quick and easy MI application submissions
- Drag and drop feature for uploading multiple documents at once
- Ability to easily start or cancel an MI application online
- Improved Rate Express® interface to help customers find and compare Genworth MI rates with different parameters
- Upgraded search capabilities for MI applications
- Ability to leave notes for an underwriter after a loan has been submitted
- Streamlined interface for reporting
Apart from these functional improvements, we also focused a considerable amount of time on improving the user experience. This included equipping the site with responsive design to make it mobile-friendly, improving the site’s search capabilities, customizing the training offerings, building in a preview capability for images and documents, and introducing step-by-step instructions for new visitors.
Please visit us at new.mortgageinsurance.genworth.com to see our customer-driven website design and perhaps grab a couple of ideas to help you redesign your websites with your customers in mind.