Red Antler acts as a design & strategy partner to startups looking to disrupt direct-to-consumer business models. Well known for creating the distinguishable look and feel of Casper, Allbirds, Brandless, and Otherland, Red Antler has a visual style that almost anyone can recognize. Building fluid design ecosystems require thoughtful inquiry and we defined our approach with answers to the following questions:
What problem is this startup solving, and how could we re-position these challenges to resonate with people in a beautiful and connected way?
How many competitors are in the space? Is this market crowded with other D2C startups? How could we create a fresh digital strategy and branded experience for this startup to stand out.
Who are the people behind the product? What about them is reflected in the product, and how could we highlight them in meaningful ways to encourage others to join their team?
At Red Antler, I worked across 10+ projects including Goby, Embroker, Glosslab, OnDeck, Territory, Fluent City, and Urban Remedy. I led digital discovery, UX research, and supported the design process while working closely with strategists, copywriters, producers, brand designers, art directors, and photographers.
“The root of the problem is lack of education. We know that other brokers don’t offer anything in the way of technology, but we were surprised to learn just how little time they spent educating their customers. That’s likely because these same brokers also benefit from an intentionally muddled process — and customers who depend more on them are less likely to switch providers.”
- Embroker CEO, Matt Miller
A New Approach To Small Business Insurance
Embroker is a startup that simplifies this process by empowering small business owners to purchase, manage, and track their business insurance online. Searching for the right insurance plan can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. As a small business or startup the amount of time and energy required to sift through thousands of policies to determine which plan is appropriate can feel daunting. Often they reach out to brokers who they hope will streamline the process of acquiring and managing their yearly insurance policies.
The insurance space is filled with products for small business owners. However, the issue is that the process of hearing back from an insurance broker can take months and there can be little to no education for business owners. Embroker designed a digital product that allows business owners to get transparent policy overviews. They’ve also coupled their service with in-house insurance brokers that add a human layer to the product.
Impacting The Discovery, Research & User Experience
To kickoff the project I led digital discovery to understand how to position Embroker in a crowded and outdated market. The discovery phase included a site audit, competitive analysis, user interview, and collaboration with strategists, copywriters, and producers to determine how to present these insights the client.
To kick off the digital discovery I identified pain points across the existing site that we could leverage in the new digital strategy. I found that though the homepage provided a product overview, it lacked the context necessary to decipher Embroker’s value proposition. While the illustration and iconography created a distinct look and feel, it failed to communicate Embroker’s unique selling point - humanizing the insurance buying process.
At this time Embroker’s product was 100% free. Customers could upload their existing policies and use the free platform to track, manage, and compare insurance policies. Their digital platform leveraged data visualization of an uploaded insurance policy to provide an overview of what their customers should be paying at an industry level. But this was hidden in the form of a pop-up on their digital web experience. I identified this insight as something we needed to communicate as early and easily as possible at the product detail page view. Their existing digital experience was focused on legibility and providing an overview of their product, however it lacked an overview of the real impact they have on their customers.
Contextualizing These Pain Points
I led a Q&A style user interview with guided questions specific to how long it takes to acquire a robust set of policies, and how this is dependent on a relationship with an insurance broker. To contextualize our insights, I led a competitive analysis of competitors within the insurance space and referenced insurance and business products to understand how they were positioning themselves, and to understand their biggest opportunities and challenges. The key insight I discovered was how complicated it is to understand your coverage, specifically when you are in an industry that is creative. There are also laws and compliance situations to consider when acquiring a new policy or thinking about the types of insurance you should acquire on an annual basis.
Insureon — Understanding The Complexity Of Business Insurance
The pain points that Embroker solves are often due to the precedents set by brokerages, such as Insureon that have been in the space for decades. I understood quickly the complexity of insurance policies after navigating through Insureon’s site. I quickly realized that in order to complete the competitive audit I would have to reference competitors outside of the business specific insurance space.
Oscar — Driving Solutions & Simplicity In Content Strategy
At the time of this research Oscar was the innovator in the space to reference. Their simplified approach to understanding a complicated industry provided a key reference to think about what specifically needed to be highlighted at a product level and through the content strategy for the site. This visual reference supported the process of both design and copywriting.
Zenefits — Humanizing & Contextualizing The Complexity
Human Resource driven products have a lot of overlap with insurance products. The focus on disruption in the HR space requires contextualization of how a technology company can do the task better. Zenefits worked to provide an overview of how they solve problems for an enterprise level client. In addition, they showcase the people who can guide you when you get stuck or have questions about how to onboard into the product.
The competitive analysis and user interview had an impact across UX, content strategy, visual design, interaction design, and art direction. Based on the discoveries made through my research we choose to design the homepage through the lens of real life case studies. In our client meeting, we emphasized the importance of beautiful photography and the need to photograph real Embroker customers. We also suggested the creation of wireframes, a visual design system, and a content strategy focused on storytelling featuring the businesses of Embroker customers.
Looking To Apple For Business & Product Contextualization
Insights from the user interview were leveraged to craft our digital strategy. A key finding that guided us how we approached the contextualization of Embroker’s product was the importance of case studies to users. We looked to Apple to understand how they used case studies to create impact for billions of people through their business solutions. It became clear how important brand elements such as photography and tone of voice were and understanding how they could work to drive conversion.
Focusing on Legibility Throughout
From the research, it was important to highlight product features in a way that was digestable both in terms of content strategy and the structure of the What We Offer page. One of the challenges when designing the What We Offer page was taking into consideration how much information needed to be highlighted within product features and finding a way to showcase this information in a fun and interactive way.
I designed an interaction to reveal cards as a user scrolls down the page. This interaction worked as a tool to break up what would otherwise feel like dense content throughout the entire page.
In the wireframes I designed a simplified approach to a case study on the homepage. Leveraging click and tap as interactions I designed an at a glance summary to showcase a business issue, solution, and insight. At the end of each case study, there was an option to learn more about the product.
Leveraging Bullet Points In Design
For the remaining sections on the What We Offer page I worked with copywriters to break the content into smaller bulleted lists. This made it easier to scroll from the top to the bottom of the page. A clear title for each section was created and the pain points the product features solved were highlighted.
While conducting research and designing the wireframes referencing competitors outside of the industry most specific to the startup may work to reinvent the outcome of the user experience.