Fast product delivery through prototyping: Charles Plath and Mike Fagan talk about development for the insurance industry on The Storyboard

DevToolsGuy / Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In this episode of The Storyboard: Conversations about Usability and UX, (iTunes | RSS | Direct Download | Google Play | Stitcher | Soundcloud), Elden Nelson talks with Charles Plath and Mike Fagan of Instec, a company that develops custom software for insurance companies. Charles is Instec’s user experience director; Mike is vice president of product management. Together they explain how Instec uses prototyping and user insights to create products that meet the requirements of a regulated industry while helping customers differentiate themselves from their competitors. Instec offers fast time to market for its custom solutions, delivering wireframes and prototypes within weeks and initial versions of usable products within months. The company’s secret: agile development processes and Indigo Studio prototyping.

Mike and Charles discuss some of the design and development challenges they face, such as getting the initial creation teams to think more expansively, helping customers articulate what they really need in a solution, and identifying the right moment to shift from free-form ideation to building and testing a product design. Mike describes the Instec philosophy of getting the minimum viable version of a product into the marketplace as quickly as possible, so customers can start seeing benefits and solving problems immediately while the development team continues to work on more complex features to roll out later.

Indigo Studio has helped Instec improve its design and development process by enabling customers to see how a product will work in practice, when it’s still early enough to propose significant changes without slowing down the development schedule. Before prototyping, customer review meetings relied on slide presentations and sketched designs; customers could see the visual design but only get a partial view of the workflow and functionality. Now, when Mike and Charles present interactive prototypes made using Indigo Studio, “They get so into it that they forget it’s a prototype,” says Charles.

Charles points out that with prototyping, Instec can show customers what many competitors can only describe in future terms. “We actually show them,” Charles says. “Not only will you be able to get this product, but this is how it works. There’s absolute clarity about how it will function and operate.”

Tune in to this episode of The Storyboard for ideas about how to break through constraints during the ideation phase of a project and how to keep from making your prototype look too good — so that customers know they can still push for changes.

Visit iTunes to download the episode, and subscribe to The Storyboard.