How could we make the “Coverage and Benefits” pages of our member website more usable and useful? This section was at the heart of our business, representing some of UPMC Health Plan’s most important and popular content. And now we had a chance to improve it.
4 pages reorganized and streamlined into 1
Improved impressions of usability, as measured by System Usability Scale survey responses
Success in usability testing for priority tasks
Set the stage for information architecture changes that boosted findability by as much as 57 percentage points
Content strategy, Information architecture, Interaction design, Interviewing, Needfinding, Usability testing, User Research, Visual design
This portfolio entry illustrates a piece of a larger project I worked on in 2017 and 2018. And compared to some of my other projects, I was more exclusively responsible for design decisions you’ll see here.
The assignment was to “modernize” our “Coverage and Benefits” pages on UPMC Health Plan’s member website. But there wasn’t much definition beyond that. Internal stakeholders sensed something could be better about these pages, though they couldn’t say what. Adding to the fuzziness, we were given conflicting directives — redesign “Coverage and Benefits,” yet without making drastic change that would be perceived as out of scope from a larger site modernization initiative.
Over the course of this project, Dan Brown’s framework of continuous discovery provides a useful way of mapping my process. First step: Gather.
At the start, we believed it was important to arrive at a concept as quickly as possible. First up was the “Current Plans” page. I inventoried content, assessed the in-production site experiences, skimmed available data, reviewed technical documentation, and interviewed internal SMEs that included technical and member support personnel.
Jumping into exploration, I focused on how the content could be organized and arranged to address the most basic and significant information design issues. And I soon emerged with a higher-fidelity concept we could bring back to the workgroup for discussion, adjustment, and approval. From the beginning, I advocated for taking a mobile-first approach to everything we would do, from initial sketches to final deliverables.
So far, so good. Onto the next page. But the more familiar I became with the rest of the section, the more I realized how misguided it was to fix these pages in a vacuum from each other. I returned to gathering, this time going deeper and broader. At this point, I was constrained from doing any primary user research. So I turned to the best proxies that I could — digging into data that included site analytics and call volumes and trends to member support, and interviewing member support staff about the experiences and interactions of our users.
I identified 6 problems with the section, which pointed to 6 objectives that could reframe our previously fuzzy assignment to “modernize” these individual pages. These included:
Problem: Structure and design are ineffective at helping people understand what plans they have, what benefits are available to them, where they can seek care, and what they’ll pay.
Objective: Make the “Coverage and Benefits” section more plainly understandable, while continuing to provide all the content required either by business request or government regulation.
Problem: Lack of connection between related content means that most pages are dead ends and that members are burdened find what is relevant and needed.
Objective: Connect related content to support findability and discoverability.
Problem: Some services, programs, and benefits receive no mention or are obscure to find.
Objective: Give members a more accurate, complete view of their coverage and benefits.
Having illustrated the problem space compellingly and effectively, I was given more room to push for significant changes that would address the new objectives we outlined.
More room to explore also meant more risk, more unknowns. Throughout, I was constantly showing ideas to our engineers for feedback and asking design teammates for critiques. And finally, we were in a position to conduct primary user research. I planned and executed a task-based usability study with a semi-interactive prototype. At its end, the test also included a system usability scale survey.
Our usability testing validated that in many ways we were on the right track. It also revealed that users were likely to struggle with certain critical-path controls and that it was worth organizing the plans and benefits pages into a single hierarchical relationship. Which meant I had a little more refinement to do.
Improved impressions of usability.
74.2 was the average score of our system usability scale survey responses, which is considered “good” or “acceptable.” (95% Confidence Interval Minimum: 50.2 | 95% Confidence Interval Maximum: 98.2)
We don’t have an apples-to-apples baseline comparison unfortunately, but overall the member website was averaging SUS scores in the 40s and 50s. Many of these users almost certainly experienced the “Coverage and Benefits” pages prior to redesign.
4 pages reorganized and streamlined into 1.
Success in testing for priority tasks such as determining active plans, determining covered members and finding ID numbers, finding deductible information, and identifying where to find details of ancillary services.
Set the stage for information architecture changes that boosted findability.
First-click success rates increased:
to 81% from 67% for “Where would you expect to find information about your copays for medical services?”
to 97% from 63% for “You want to know if your dental plan is active and who is on it. Where would you look for this?”
to 97% from 40% for “Where would you expect to find digital versions of your member ID cards?”