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Key skills: Research and prototyping

5 - 10 minute read


aYo Holdings, a microinsurance provider to seven African countries. Major shareholders: MTN and Sanlam.

Project overview


Design a working prototype for aYo’s Nigeria family cover dashboard.

Project context:

Nigeria’s microinsurance sector is unforgiving, thanks to economic challenges like “stagflation,” a prevailing debt culture, and growing frugality. To adapt, aYo has introduced a new offering: family cover (insurance for the whole family).

This new product is going to be added to aYo’s existing app, however, they are looking to revamp it and want the new dashborad to set the tone.

The cast

Lead UIX Designer – Me | Consulting UIX Designer – De Wet | Business Analyst – Krisan | Project manager – Jo | Insurance consultant – Lorna | Nigerian stakeholders – Kyode & team | aYo stakeholders – Mike & Ivan

Summary of my role

I was assigned to this project in a UI capacity – just update the look. This all changed after I did some research and realised that essential features were missing. I pitched this to our stakeholders and got the green light to freshen up the user journey of the 3-page dashboard. The caveat? My deadline was tight, a final product was due in 4 months.


The beginning

When I initially started my research on the Nigerian target market, financial/insurance dashboards, and aYo’s relationship with users, I did it as a way to familiarise myself with a new project that I was uncertain about.

I had help from all over the company, every time I requested  existing research or data, I was provided heaps of information. The only thing we did not have access to were real life users.

Turning point

My initial findings were that user expectations and the product offering were misaligned in the dashboard design. I wanted to fix this, and mentioned my concerns to my superior. This is how the project got its legs.

Users  sign up, then immediately cancel. Do they think it’s a scam? Do they not know how to use it? – Kyode


  • aYo Nigeria Family Cover 2023 specifications
  • 2020 user research report from the Nielsen Company.
  • Interviews with key stakeholders in Nigeria, such as the CEO, Marketing Manager, and Call Centre Manager.
  • Collected customer testimonials and complaints logs in Nigeria  and in countries with existing aYo family cover products.
  • Analytics data from existing aYo family cover products for shared insights.
  • Analysing data from the USSD version of the product.

Understanding Our User Demographics

What The Nielsen Company’s research tells us about our users:

  • They are in the 30-50 age bracket and typically have low incomes.
  • These individuals are tech-savvy, ambitious, smartphone users.
  • Often, they have numerous debts and support multiple family members.
  • While inclined towards saving, their trust in the provider can sway them towards insurance.

Retention and Trust Challenges

Data underlines that aYo’s app grapples with a retention challenge, not a sales problem. This sharply contrasts with the consistent user engagement seen on USSD. Seemingly, the simplicity of the USSD platform outperforms the data rich app experience.

Interestingly, many users request refunds immediately after enrolling, signifying dissatisfaction behind the paywall. Stakeholders speculate that users seek refunds to validate the company’s legitimacy. Is there a proactive way for the app to address these issues?


Aggregated empathy map (1/3): The majority of the target market are financially vulnerable, in search of insurance, yet mistrustful of microinsurers.

Aggregated persona (1/3): Meet Amina – a mother and breadwinner.

User Journey takeaways: from awareness to active membership. The dashboard design is a key part of the “service” and “loyalty” streams and perfectly located to: (a) foster trust, (b) spark engagement, and (c) safeguard future business.


My heuristic evaluation

Identified improvements:

  • Streamline data organisation and enhance visual clarity.
  • Improve UX copy
  • Illuminate “hidden” clauses and business rules for transparency.
  • Systematically highlight key call to actions.
  • Include claims functionality.


Brainstorming sessions with the stakeholders led me towards the following approach:


Orient the user:

Clearly define the two products so that the users can always orient themselves on the app.

Respect data restrictions:

Limit the number of API calls and use the smallest possible image sizes.

Reference well known app designs:

Emulate MTN and Airtel app designs – our users are comfortable there.

Be transparent:

Clearly communicate rules and limitations.

Communication style:

Use simple and consistent language for users with low literacy. Where visual language can be used, do so.

Allow for personalisation:

Users enjoy adding images of their loved ones, make this possible.

Initial design direction


I needed to eliminate confusion arising from product name similarities.


Design a clear differentiation between products.


  • Visual representation of allowed membership to enhance user understanding.
  • Implementation of differentiators such as colour and copy to establish clear product distinctions.


Design evolution: The dashboard (and it’s child pages) from low fidelity wireframes to high fidelity prototypes.

Dashboard components

Lead content

My intention:

An easily digestible summary of claim benefits.

Notes on previous design:

Important information squashed together and easily misunderstood. Missing key feature = ability to claim.

Designed with:

Clear messaging and a CTA for users to make claims.


Breakdown of usage limits (i.e. you have used 2/6 of your hospital benefits).


My intention:

At-a-glance, actionable cover expiration status.

Notes of previous design:

The benefit is listed, yet shows only a repetition of lead content. Users must click on a vague button to access pertinent information.

Designed with:

A simple hierarchy of information, indicating when payment is needed and offering the appropriate CTA.


Payment history.

Policy members

My intention:

Provide a snapshot of a user’s family members.

Notes on previous design:

No empty state design. Overwhelming for a dashboard.

Designed with:

Clear messaging, visual communication, and the “add member” CTA.


Manage members.

Child pages’ components

* Just a heads up

The designs you’ll see in this project represent a collection of proposed design concepts authored by me. Not all of them made the cut with the development team, mainly because of our tight schedule.


Payment history

My intention:

Provide all available information in a readable format.

Notes on previous design:

Listed payments show incomplete information. There is no ability to view older transactions.

Designed with:

A strong visual hierarchy which is readable at a glance, yet holds all the necessary information.

Member profiles

My intention:

A friendly and informative page which allows for customisation.

Notes on previous design:

Unappealing design with limited information and available actions.

Designed with:

A clear profile for each member, indicating statuses and relationships. Access to each member’s details and claim history was also included. Personalisation is now encouraged.

Final product

Useful, reliable, and simple. The end result is a streamlined design which aims to make users feel safe in their investment and empowered to manage their account.

Testing & iterating

In lieu of user testing, which is not customary at aYo and was not feasible in terms of time and budget, stakeholders, testers, and quality assurance personnel assumed the role of users during testing.

The design progressed through multiple iterations, influenced by my interactions with stakeholders and consistent consultation of the 2020 user research report from the Nielsen Company.

It’s important to note that when stakeholders stand in for users during testing, their own agendas can influence their feedback. I collaborated closely with the aYo team  and while their insights were valuable, meeting user needs required a discerning approach to their feedback.


To end with

The reality

Yes, we made our deadline, achieving significant improvements in design and user journey, which led the team to hold high expectations for the project.

Regrettably, merely a week post-launch, it was declared that the product would be withdrawn from Nigeria indefinitely. Owing to confidentiality constraints, I cannot disclose more.

The KPIs

Although I don’t have any data, I’m aware of the analytics we would have examined in the months following the launch.

  1. A key metric is lifetime value: following the measurement of conversion rates, assessing the ongoing engagement and value gained from customers over time is crucial. Positive figures in this area would indicate we are on the right track to address aYo’s retention issues.
  2. Concurrently, measuring the customer churn rate is essential.
  3. Feature usage rate, including the time spent on dashboard features and their usage frequency, would provide insights for further customisation to meet our users’ needs.



Brought to you by Laura Ann Seal, 2024