B2B site design and context

By Dan Marley

I recently completed a project involving insurance brokers, which got me thinking about how this research is relevant to any organisation thinking about B2B sites or intranets for staff.

When involved in a design process, understanding your customer segmentation is not enough, you must understand the surrounding context your users are in. If you don’t understand where, how and when your customers will interact with your site, you could end up designing something that will cause more problems than it solves.

It is good ergonomics to understand job design and physical environmental factors when designing any staff tools or systems, so they integrate rather than conflict with the existing infrastructure. Such factors include; constant distractions, large scale multi-tasking and working across multiple channels, all of which require a lot of organisational skill and patience to design.

My experience from research with insurance brokers backs this up and adds these considerations for design:

  • Users are time pressured and deal with multiple sites/systems on a daily basis. For example, brokers use multiple provider sites in a single day
  • Users aim to get in and out of your site as quickly as possible with the desired information for their clients
  • Provider sites contain similar content, but different ways to navigate to it – this is frustrating and time consuming

What does this mean for providers’ sites?

Your site is a tool, therefore:

  • Ensure clear signposting and routing on the site
  • Don’t waste time creating a graphically thrilling experience. The experience is about getting results as quickly as possible
  • Don’t try and hand hold them through processes that are basically the same regardless of the site being used

What else needs to be considered?

  • Not every journey can be done completely online, e.g. some quotes or claims can be too complex for an online solution
  • Brokers have built relationships with providers and generally have their phone number to hand and will at some point want to deal with them directly

In summary ergonomists should think about the wider environmental factors when designing a tool, not just the user, and should uncover this through research.

What do you think?