Designing a Better Member Experience at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is dedicated to providing a best-in-class member experience. But the member website wasn’t living up to this promise. Since the website is the most prominent member touch point, that's a problem! So Harvard Pilgrim asked Mad*Pow to revolutionize the member experience. Mad*Pow took on the challenge, with a focus on accessible, mobile-friendly UX design.

  • 1,100 members involved in our research
  • US news & World Report's #1 ranked private health care plan
  • Harvard Pilgrim has over 1.2 million regional members

Redesigning A Website to Re-engage Members

The Process: A Focus on Member Experience

Mad*Pow's task was to create a site that was: easy to understand, simple to use, and built trust. The team started by learning about members’ online goals. Mad*Pow’s research included:

  • Stakeholder and user interviews
  • A survey of more than 1,100 Harvard Pilgrim Health Care members
  • Usefulness testing to uncover member needs
  • Collaborating with the Carroll Center for the Blind to better understand accessibility needs
  • Live call center observation of dozens of inbound member calls
Interviewee & Survey Demographics Chart
M*P: interviewee & survey demographics 

Member Needs Meet Business Needs

The team learned about members' top desires. These focused on quick and easy access to information. For a UX team this means clear navigation, and fast load times. Members also wanted a mobile-friendly site. It needed to be a way to get the information they needed when they needed it.

These desires aligned nicely with Harvard Pilgrim's business goals. Harvard Pilgrim wanted the site to be a member retention and growth tool. For a UX team, that meant the site needed to be inclusive and accessible. So Mad*Pow put these member and business needs together.

However, the Harvard Pilgrim team had some challenges ahead:

  • an internal development team struggling to unify multiple data streams,
  • a strict timeline to migrate to a new CMS, and
  • tough compliance and NCQA regulations.

The team looked to Mad*Pow for more than one thing. Yes, Mad*Pow had to solve members’ online challenges. But the team also needed to create a governance model that would prepare for future success.

Content Governance Model
M*P: Content governance model

The Build: Improving Web UX Design

Mad*Pow first ran a content audit. They evaluated the site content to see how it met user needs. This included rating accessibility, findability, and readability.

Next, Mad*Pow conducted participatory design workshops with the Harvard Pilgrim team. They two teams mapped out key user journeys. Based on the journeys, Mad*Pow built site maps and design concepts. The Harvard Pilgrim was involved at every step, with quick feedback and multiple iterations.

Over a three-month period, Mad*Pow designed, developed, tested, and iterated a working prototype. The final deliverable showcased a whole new member experience. It included:

  • a visual refresh
  • branded voice and tone
  • clear navigation
  • clean UI
  • accessible CSS code

Mad*Pow also provided documentation to support the prototype. This included detailed governance documents. After learning about Harvard Pilgrim’s internal processes, Mad*Pow was able to create guidelines to guide the team going forward. They also set up analytics tracking and conversion strategies for future use.

Client Sketches
M*P: sketches produced by the client during design studio workshop

The Results: A Better Member Experience

When Mad*Pow usability tested, and members said: wow. They were impressed with the member-friendly interface and wide range of helpful content. In addition, members expressed excitement about the improved mobile capabilities and consistency between the desktop and mobile versions. They were also pleased with the clean, appealing interface.

One member summed up the glowing reviews: “Overall it’s a big improvement. I’m excited about what changes are coming.”

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care took a major step forward with the new UX design prototype. With the launch of the site later that year, Harvard Pilgrim became a truly trusted and reliable partner in health.

Final screen designs
M*P: sample of final screen designs​​​​


Styleguide Components
M*P: style guide components

Key Services

  • Research and Testing: The research team conducted qualitative and quantitative research, to understand members' values.
  • Experience Strategy and Service Design: Mad*Pow's strategy team crafted user journeys and documented business needs. The plan they built is a strategy Harvard Pilgrim will follow for years to come.
  • Experience Design: The design team created unique wireframes, templates, and a clickable prototype. Then, after revising based on feedback from current members, they finalized visual design components for development.
  • Content Strategy: Mad*Pow created an editorial guide and developed sample content for the website. They then trained the Harvard Pilgrim team to create readable, user-centric content. The content team also helped prepare for site maintenance with a detailed governance plan.
  • Mobile App and Web Development: The team worked hand-in-hand with Harvard Pilgrim's development team. They documented functionality requirements, and then trained the team on the new CMS.


“This is a much more member-friendly interface [it has] information that I’ve never seen from a health insurance website before…GREAT.”

Member, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care