Nationwide Agent Locator

interaction design, wireframes

Nationwide was a key client for Placeable in 2012. We were a small company with fewer than 25 employees, and they were a huge national brand. Maybe you have seen one of their television ads featuring that plucky up-and-comer Peyton Manning?

The Brief

They were unhappy with their current agent locator. It was pretty clunky. It didn’t look or work like any other locator and it wasn’t mobile friendly. Also, it was just about invisible to search engines, due to its URL structure.

We were developing a new platform to build locators, one that was both mobile friendly and SEO optimized.

Our contract included a seven-figure bonus if we hit our usage and SEO goals. We exceeded all our goals, and the Nationwide locator became a key sales tool for Placeable. (Placeable was acquired by Ignite Technologies in April 2017.)

home page of the mobile locator results page of the mobile locator details of the mobile locator

mobile screens

Our Process

I led the design of this agent locator, working with Nationwide’s excellent in-house UX team. Their UX department was huge, like 55 people, if I remember correctly. I worked mostly with one of their UX designers and a researcher, both of whom had been working on an updated version of their mobile app.

The Placeable team was very strong in local search. The key parts of our team had all worked together at Local Matters, a Denver company that built directory sites for yellow page companies all over the world. We had a good idea of what users wanted in a locator, and how to make it search engine friendly.

We worked mobile first. I created all the wireframess. We were very closely aligned in how the pages should work and what features were key. Their research meshed well with our understanding of what people wanted in a locator. It was an easy and productive working relationship.

The design timeline was aggressive but workable. We spent 4 to 6 weeks wireframing. We had periodic design review meetings with a larger team of Nationwide folks, and I led these, explaining the thinking behind the designs to the larger Nationwide team.

After the wireframes were complete, the Nationwide team created the UI designs. They were in midst of a site-wide redesign, and they basically applied their new design language to the wires.

After the comps were complete, we created clickable prototypes that were usability tested in their lab. Both the mobile and desktop designs were tested. They had a great lab and a really skilled tester running the sessions.

I was on hand in their headquarters in Columbus, OH to observe the testing. The designs tested well. Users were able to find agents, they understood how the pages worked, and were able to accomplish all of the key tasks we identified.

What We Learned

We learned that the “use my location” search made sense to users on mobile devices, but it “felt creepy” on the desktop. Nationwide is still using the application we designed, although the visual design has been updated slightly. (All the images on this page are screen shots of the application at launch.) It now includes the “use my location” feature on the desktop, which leads me to believe that people are more accustomed to this now.

Nationwide Agents are independent contractors. Typically they work in their own offices. However, in some cases many different agents share an office. This happens because Nationwide provides office space for newer agents. Some folks at Nationwide were worried that this would be confusing. That users would wonder why a number of agents, sometimes twenty or more, were all at the same location. We designed several approaches that collapsed these. None of these designs survived the usability tests. Users were confused by the attempts to collapse them. When they were presented as normal results, users either correctly guessed the reason, or pretty much did not care.

home page of the locator

search page

home page of the locator

search by name

home page of the locator

search results

home page of the locator

details page

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