Insurance aggregator Confused.com has been promoting its new look site recently with a TV campaign which focuses on the usability of its website.
On the ads, Confused.com has got its customers to say what they think about the new-look site, with a focus on the improved user experience. With this in mind, how easy is it to get a car insurance quote on the new site?
Insurance is a fairly complex product, and a potential minefield for usability problems. A good amount of information is required from customers before you can provide an accurate quote, so it's all about making the forms as easy as possible to complete. Make the data input too tricky or ask too many questions, and you run the risk of having customers abandon the quote in frustration.
I've used the site for car insurance before, and I immediately noticed that one usability error has been corrected, as clicking the car insurance link on the homepage no longer loads a new browser window, but loads on the same page.
The quote form is well laid out and easy to understand, and the progress bar at the top of the page gives you an indication of the number of steps in the process:
The pageload times are an improvement on the previous version of the site, and it has managed to make the forms relatively easy to fill in, and links to relevant information are provided next to questions that may need it:
The whole process was fast and relatively simple to complete if you avoid errors and, once you are done, the site does a good job of returning results from different insurers quickly, less than ten seconds when I tried it.
It isn't perfect though, and I did come across a couple of potential user experience problems. For example, when asked for a password I entered a combination of letters and numbers, only to come across this error message:
This tells me that my password must be between six and eight characters long, and only letters are allowed. Not only is this unnecessarily restrictive, I'm also unaware of this rule before I enter a password. As plenty of people use passwords with birth dates or house numbers, or wouldn't know to keep to the number of characters, I can imagine this error message crops up quite often.
Also, as I had previously got a quote on the site using the same email address, once I had put my password in the correct format, I was told it was incorrect and invited to try again or reset my existing password.
Unfortunately, after selecting the reset password option, the page took so long to load that it timed out and left me with this lovely error message, effectively a dead end:
I have tried the reset password link several times over a two hour period, each time getting the same error page. This is not good enough for such an established site, and I'm sure many customers would give up on the process at this point.
Entering your occupation can be a problem on such sites, especially if you work online and don't necessarily fit into the existing categories. Concerned about invalidating insurance policies by entering incorrect details, such questions can be a potential stumbling block for users. If my exact job title isn't there, I may need some advice, so providing a telephone number at this point might be a good idea.
The quotes page is well laid out and allows for easy comparison of policies. While they are initially listed in order of price, there are some useful filtering options on the right hand side that allow users to narrow down their options. For instance, you can opt to view only policies with a courtesy car or no claims protection, and these are left highlighted:
Details like the amount of excess can also be altered on this page, for users wanting to bring their quote down. Also, Confused.com has made it very easy to go back into areas of the form and change the details of your quote without losing the information you have already inputted, which is a very good idea.
The new Confused.com site has improved on the user experience of the previous version; forms are easy to fill in, pages update quickly, and the results are well presented. However, I have encountered a few usability issues, password issues in particular, which could frustrate customers looking for insurance quotes on the site.
Graham Charlton is Senior Reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.