A young man with glasses in a powder blue t-shirt smiling against the camera against an office background.
Charles Novabos. Image: Pramerica

How do you make sure websites are user-friendly?

5 Feb 2019

You probably don’t notice intuitive web design, but you do notice bad design. People such as Charles Novabos, who works with Pramerica, are essential to ensuring a seamless online experience.

While bad website design sticks out like a sore thumb, good website design should be imperceptible. You mightn’t even notice when a page is well integrated across your devices or is designed intuitively – you’ll be too busy breezing through the site with ease.

Ensuring websites are seamless to navigate, however, is a far from easy task. That’s why companies such as Pramerica need user experience (UX) researchers such as Charles Novabos. We caught up with Novabos to see what his working day entails.

What is your role within Pramerica?

I work as a user experience researcher with the Pramerica customer office team. From here in Letterkenny, I support the wider customer office US-based UX team of our parent company, Prudential Financial. Our team is responsible for ensuring that all Prudential Financial websites and mobile apps are useful and user-friendly for both our current and prospective customers.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day at Pramerica?

As a UX researcher, my primary work is conducting and analysing usability tests. A usability test is a method that we use to assess the ease or difficulty for people to use the websites and mobile apps that we create.

In the usability test, we aim to capture people’s confusions and struggles as they navigate through our website so that we can make it easier for them to complete their tasks, be it signing up to an insurance plan or managing their accounts. When we eliminate the friction, we help ensure people are happy and satisfied with their experience.

What types of project do you work on?

Typically, my projects deal with website enhancements. For instance, I am currently involved with an initiative to reimagine the Prudential Financial homepage, to make it easier and faster for people to find an insurance plan or an investment product that suits their needs.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

I use my collaboration skills when I engage with several stakeholders to formulate a research or testing plan. I also use my analytical and critical-thinking skills when I process the usability tests, and my presentation skills when it’s time to share my findings.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

The most challenging part of my work would have to be delivering it with speed and quality. In a fast-changing business landscape, it definitely pays to stay ahead, which is why we operate in an Agile environment.

With that comes the need to deliver our piece efficiently so as not to delay project delivery. Everyone is expected to be nimble but still keep that high level of workmanship and collaboration.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

Music keeps me going. Since my work requires a lot of thinking, I like to listen to background music on my headphones and this keeps me laser-focused on the task at hand.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

It would have to be the global reach and the potential impact that our team can make to the business. Prudential Financial is one of the stalwarts in the insurance space and we serve millions of customers in 40 countries.

It bewildered me at first to realise that the work I do can impact the experience of millions of people worldwide using our website. A single miss on the website design can detract hundreds of potential customers.

How has this role changed as the insurance sector has grown and evolved?

If anything has changed about this role, it would be that it has been on the rise over the past few years. User experience is a relatively new profession but more and more companies around the world are now recognising the value that UX brings to the business. I personally view this as a success story for us in the UX field.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

What tickles my brain the most is formulating a usability testing plan. Special phrasing has to be used to obtain the right kind of feedback from our website users – feedback that is crucial for the next round of design. This exercise allows me to be creative because not every usability test is constructed the same way, so I enjoy that a lot.

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