Reimagining Principal’s
homepage (twice)

I’ve been closely involved in evolving the design and strategy of Principal’s homepage. Although it’s just a single web page, it’s the gateway to our website for millions of visitors – so the stakes are high.

homepage_hero_image@2x

Why did we redo the homepage?

Homepage history

Prior to 2020, Principal’s homepage had seen very few significant updates. In fact, in the previous 20 years, there had only been about 4 significant hierarchy and styling updates (thanks to The Internet Wayback Machine).

Below are the points at which the homepage was significantly rethought.

homepage_timeline@2x

Of course, the point of a website is rarely to be mindlessly updated over and over – and there is something to be said for having a consistent landing experience for a property that may only see users checking in once a month, or once a year.

Clearly, it was time for an update

A company’s website should answer some key questions.

The website for a Fortune 250 company should say something. And, it should help users understand what that company does. To “test” our existing homepage in late 2019, I asked a few key questions a user might have and highlighted where (and if) they were answered.

The conclusion of the exercise? We were not answering most of these questions particularly well.

Our strategy for updates

First, a “quick” redesign of the existing homepage

Let’s modernize the styling to fit with other, newer properties on our site, answer some of those core questions better, and get something in place that can actually help us find useful data around desirable next actions and engagement with a longer scrolling page. And, let’s get it done before an early-year campaign runs and tax time rolls around (a high-traffic time of year for financial services).

Then, a deeper dive with iteration based on findings

With a little longer timeframe, some initial insights gathered from our first round, and a design system that was more mature, we planned to take a second look at the page.

(You'll need a portfolio password, though)

Project outputs

Moving an idea from this:

homepage_sketch_export@2x

To this (+ animations!) – in about a month.

newHomePage@2x

A new animation and illustration style

With lots of room for future refinement and exploration.

Core hypotheses validated via user testing

When testing our page with users (and comparing it to the old design, as well as a competitive set), most found it welcoming, saw what they expected from a financial firm, and perhaps most importantly, remembered our main product lines after viewing the page. 

Analytics findings

We set up robust dashboards to monitor and measure changes in the page, and have been keeping close tabs on results. 

Future improvements

As one might imagine, there are a wide number of future directions this page could head. A few key improvements, though, will be testing how the page hierarchy adapts to messages beyond “let’s keep finance simple”, refining visual and animation treatments, improving the page load speed, and running numerous tests to optimize low-on-page engagement.