Note: To protect Covered By Sage, Inc., all information specific to their business model and product strategy have been omitted from this article.
As Head of Design at Sage, my goal of setting a new standard of design in insurance can be broken down to the following points:
Thinking of design in light of growth forces us to see design in the breadth of scope it truly is – it is a mode of problem solving and encompasses every part of every individual’s experience with the Sage brand, not just our pixels.
Design has taken lead in importance for growth and marketing has turned into a vital part of the experience – more as a component of user-centered experience design. Strategic focus on design reliably results in increased virality and with today’s network effects there is basically no cap to success. Adoption rates of the best designs has grown and will continue to grow exponentially. The Business Value of Design by McKinsey is a must-read for anyone who wants to debate or learn more about this. ‘Commitment to design’ has become a legitimately good investment strategy, which is why McKinsey has made an organizational focus on design and maintains a design quality index of companies.
The company that understands this will break down departmental silos and permeate design teammates throughout.
Design is too important to be left just to designers. The key to effective design iterations (or growth hacking) is assembling a diversely skilled team of experts and committing to conducting several experiments at a cadence that can be sustained long-term. Our continued growth hacking will make us ever more successful at:
Sage is building a system with many players and interactions spanning software and physical world experiences. Within product alone, it is a cross-module, cross-product, cross-device UX strategy. The cumulative total of all interactions people have with Sage encompasses Sage Design.
Design at Sage either currently encompasses or will soon encompass user research and design research, service design thinking, user experience design, user interface design, graphic design, animation/ illustration, and gamification. Watch this video on Service Design to get a primer on what it is and how it is relevant to Sage.
The role of Sage’s Head of Design is to orchestrate optimal outcomes for all touch points between people and products within its system. In reality, the experiences will need to be delivered by operational and product teammates, but someone must focus on orchestrating optimal outcomes for all touch points in order to set up those who are implementing them for greatest success.
The design team has a hub and spoke formation. Most designers are primarily lead by product managers or a Head of another department and secondarily lead by our Head of Design. Some design teammates do operate primarily with the Head of Design, though, and focus on organizational outcomes spanning multiple departments. Regardless of who a designer primarily works with, all design teammates coordinate amongst each other on a unified Sage design strategy.
Design is integral throughout the product development process. In order to set a strong strategy that does not fluctuate during the product development process, a significant amount of competitor and user research is required up front. Ongoing research is required to guide the team through the ever-changing competitive and user landscape. Insights affect feature prioritization and scope as well as defining how features are to be designed at both a functional and visual level. Ongoing iterations are required to evolve our product into the industry-leading design standard our team is capable of setting.
The following steps address the layers of design in any product, website, etc.
Designers helping engineers: Engineers are involved throughout the product design process. Include engineers during the research stages. Where engineers are not able to take part in research campaigns, the insights gained need to be effectively transferred to engineers' understanding. High-quality, concise documentation and communication with designers to check for understanding helps engineers. In later stages of design, accompanying UI designs are journey maps, service blueprints, logic flows, and other forms of documentation.
Engineers helping designers: To greater facilitate taking engineering into account with our software design, engineers are to help establish basic understanding of Sage’s software architecture (and UI designers are to remain hungry to better understand it). Another way to ensure design is more calculated is to break product scope down into portions that teams can design and engineer without need for significant outside help.
Optimizing work together: Usability testing, user analytics, A/B testing, and basic user observance are all post-launch UX research strategies to be collaboratively implemented by design, engineering, and non-product teammates together. All these activities inform design of future versioning. So does ongoing competitive research, needfinding, and other UX research strategies for continued innovation in collaboration with engineers.
Our inbound and outbound marketing efforts give all agents and potential insureds their first impression of Sage and set the tone for their overall experience with us. Discovering Sage, researching Sage, and being invited to take key actions are some of our most critical touch points and design needs to help. As the marketing team continually creates content and monitors their analytics, design will play a key collaborative role in research and visual presentation with the goal of conversion. “Content strategy is a systematic, thoughtful approach of defining and surfacing the most relevant and effective content at the most opportune time to the appropriate audience segment for the purpose of helping clients achieve measurable brand and business objectives and consumer goals.” - Design Untangled
Additional details cannot be disclosed.
Service design - unable to disclose details.
The purposes of the weekly design meeting are to:
The format of the meeting is to touch on these topics: