Optimizing 'Manage Beneficiaries'

As a UX designer at New York Life insurance, I was responsible for improving the experience of multiple online platforms that moved policyholder information. One of the projects I led was to improve the 'Manage Beneficiaries' on the policyholder site.

For context, life insurance is a contract where the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money in exchange for a premium, upon the death of an insured person.

Thus, the transaction for policyholders to designate and list beneficiaries is a key interaction and was made a priority in the 2020 site redesign. 

As with any online self-service feature, any improvement to increase success rates and conversion to the transaction online diverts costs from costly form processing centers and call centers. 


Lead UX designer



Paul S., UX manager
Kim S., Researcher

Cat G., Product Owner
Gowtham K., App Developer
Dinesh P., UI Developer



8 months


1. Improved usability and workflow

2. More flexible editing capabilities

3. Repurposed underutilized sections


The product team had been monitoring the Manage Beneficiary workflow since its launch in 2017. As the lead UX designer on this project, I was responsible for collaborating with different stakeholders and building the case to design a new interface and flow for this transaction. 

Our goal was to increase completion rates online and reduce call center volumes related to this transaction. 



To identify friction points and opportunities, I teamed with the product owner and research to gather data points from a range of resources:


  • Assessed site analytics to pinpoint drop-off areas and to capture user behavior on the current state. 


  • Mapped and audited the desktop, mobile, paper, and phone process.

  • Gathered external 3rd party research on competitor's offerings and similar transactions in other financial service firms.


This initial round of discovery gave us enough information to wireframe potential new solutions to address the following problems:

  • Poor layout and visual hierarchy

  • Confusing workflow

  • Misleading labels

  • Hidden functionality




In order to test our early hypotheses, we had to design a usability test for the new design. After identifying key user scenarios, I created both mobile and desktop prototypes using InVision to share with stakeholders and to use in usability testing. 


A challenge we faced was we were straddling two different design systems: the old and the new.

Concepts were shared with the developers to discuss feasibility and the level of effort for all the changes. A/B tests came in handy to create data points for us to support new design patterns.  


Usability insights helped bring out more of the granular enhancements:

  • The term "save" on the Beneficiary Details form led users to believe they're changes were submitted to the system.

  • Navigation buttons that were placed at the button were easily missed and bumped below the fold of the screen. 

  • Users found the editing buttons too scattered apart on the page.



Above shows the released state of the design. Updating the layout and composition of the page proved to be a significant improvement on readability and navigation. We also repurposed an underutilized navigation bar for an FAQ area for clients to get industry-specific definitions and answers quicker.

Small tweaks such as changing button language from "Save" to "Next" proved to be impactful in keeping users on track to submitting changes. 


To validate our efforts, we revisited site metrics and received other forms of positive feedback:

  • Call center volumes for beneficiaries was significantly lower. Reps also claimed to have an easier time explaining the process to customers.

  • This feature was recognized in Corporate Insight’s June 2020 Life Insurance Monitor Report. Leading 14 other life insurance firms on account management capabilities for access and ease of use.