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Case Study

Guardian Insurance Evolves Their Digital Presence

Guardian breaks into the direct to consumer insurance market with an interactive award-winning Drupal website.


About Guardian Insurance

Located in the heart of New York City’s financial district, The Guardian Insurance is one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the United States. Guardian has approximately 8000 employees and a network of over 3000 financial representatives. Guardian was founded in 1860 and offers a wide range of insurance products and services including life insurance, disability, annuities, investments, dental, and vision. 

Despite the changing insurance market, Guardian stays relevant by finding innovative ways to give their customers a first-in-class experience. Most recently, Guardian made a strategic decision to expand their offerings to the direct-to-consumer market. With Drupal 8 as the chosen content management system (CMS) of choice, they partnered with Mediacurrent to be their design and strategy agency during product development of the new website. 

Project Highlights

Mediacurrent worked closely with the Guardian team to help them implement a major brand redesign and realize a change to marketing directly to consumers while updating their primary digital domain. Now, Guardian’s evolved digital presence echoes a long-enduring company mission that has persisted for over 155 years of company history: “being the trusted mutual partner, delivering financial security how, when and where our customers prefer.” 

Some of the more critical objectives of the new web properties included:

  • Disrupting the industry, becoming a leader in the direct to consumer insurance market.
  • Connecting with the unique needs of Guardian’s various target personas.
  • Creating compelling and differentiated content for Guardian’s various product offerings.
  • Simplifying the customer experience and sign-up process; presenting approachable, transparent pathways to product information.
  • Increasing visibility into user behavior analytics stimulate purchase decisions. 
  • Previously, Guardian only ranked in search engines for Dental insurance. Now, all products rank. 


    Award-Winning Design

    Recognized for outstanding web design, the new site received two silver W³ awards from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts in 2018. 

    Mediacurrent is a trusted digital partner for Guardian. They helped us take on the immense challenge of strategically rethinking how we engage our audiences with the launch of Guardian DirectTM. Our Drupal 8 platform will serve as a foundation as we scale and enhance our web and mobile experiences for customers.



    Peggy MaherSVP, Direct to Consumer at Guardian Life Insurance

    User Experience

    Data-Driven UX Design

    Guardian’s goal for their new brand was to become a one-stop shop for all direct to consumer supplemental insurance. To carve their market niche, Mediacurrent’s competitive analysis informed the creative aesthetic and content strategy to make a splash against both the well-established and the newer millennial-focused brands. 

    To develop a first-class website experience, we had to find a way to deliver content how, when, and where their customers prefer: 

    Focused on the User Journey

    User persona research brought increased visibility to top questions and concerns throughout the customer journey. An ROI attribution model by product and channel shows are people coming from, pinpointing more opportunities for growth.

    Humanizing Content

    Users told us they get frustrated by the overuse of insurance jargon on websites because they simply can’t understand it. Staying mindful of industry marketing regulations, we replaced insurance jargon with plain language, helping to educate consumers allowing them to make an informed decision. Product comparison charts are easily digestible at-a-glance. 

    Strategic UX Flows

    Several different navigation structures and labels were tested to identify the most intuitive pathways. Plan information is exposed early in the customer journey - without committing to a quote.

    Mediacurrent provided a range of high caliber services including design, UX, development, and digital strategy that are helping us pivot and transform the insurance purchasing experience. They also provided excellent project management, guidance, and structure throughout the engagement. And because of Mediacurrent’s guidance on measurement and analytics, we are now in a position to make more informed decisions. The bottom line is that working with Mediacurrent has been rewarding for our team.

    Peggy MaherSVP, Direct to Consumer at Guardian Life Insurance

    Digital Strategy

    Mapping the Course: Audience Research

    Since this was a new product line for Guardian, we started with in-depth audience research to determine who Guardian should be targeting. Throughout our research, we focused on learning more about who potential users are, what they think about insurance today, and highlighted how they were at risk without the products Guardian is offering them. 

    Research showed that insurance was not a positive topic for most potential users -- some had a bad experience previously, others saw it as a waste of money, and many simply believed it wasn’t needed. It was clear to Mediacurrent that educating the target market on the benefits of insurance and finding a way to speak to users who saw themselves as invincible, would be critical in the success of Guardian’s direct-to-consumer website. 

    As part of our audience research, we mapped the complete user journey, both on and off the website. Recognizing users have different needs depending on where they are in the sales funnel, this process helped us optimize how, when and where we spoke to users in order to raise awareness, increase engagement and ultimately drive conversions. We also determined that creating a more personalized experience should be a top priority.


    Design Approach: Finding the Bright Side

    Insurance purchases can have a negative connotation. Our sunny-side-up design turns that on its head with everything from the sun effect featured on the homepage hero illustration and animation to playful hover interactions, to the subtle rays of sunlight that continue the visual narrative down the page into the "Why Guardian" section where the rain has stopped, a rainbow has appeared, and families are happy and healthy. 

    Guardian Insurance design animation

    Design Highlights

    Redefining the Brand Family

    Guardian main brand focuses on photography. The new site distinguishes itself with custom illustrations and icons.

    Product Focused:
    Product cards provide a high-level summary of plan cost and details, making it easy to compare options. 

    Design Highlights

    Designing for Drupal

    Built with Drupal in mind, we created a style guide that was essentially a Drupal 8 theme outside of Drupal. To smoothly integrate the design with Drupal, we took a component-driven approach (breaking site elements apart into reusable components.) Style tiles with design references for how different interface elements should be handled, from typography to heading size served as a blueprint for developers.

    The design and layout were made flexible to accommodate language differences, with planned translations for Spanish and Mandarin.

    Web Accessibility

    An Inclusive Approach

    Increased legal scrutiny of website accessibility in the healthcare sector demands organizations like Guardian to make their new site inclusive to all users. 

    An accessibility audit for all design work - from making animation elements accessible to those with motor issues to reviewing Illustrator files -  ensured compliance with WCAG 2.0 A & AA guidelines. A style guide with accessibility directions empowers Guardian to write alt tags and clean markup, also improving SEO.

    Digital Strategy

    Search Engine Optimization

    Audience research and current site analytics showed us that consumers were leveraging search engines to conduct research related to insurance. In order to reach a larger audience, Mediacurrent provided a strategic content strategy for on-page optimization, setup a redirect plan to pass ranking power that had been built up on over to the new site, and enhanced the technical setup by recommending the installation of numerous supporting Drupal SEO modules. Our migration strategy focused on how to develop rank for Guardian Direct, in the consumer direct market, while maintaining current rankings for Guardian Life, targeting the traditional market. 

    Data Strategy

    Tracking Return on Investment

    In order to track user behavior and site performance more effectively, Mediacurrent recommended the implementation of Google Tag Manager, in addition to Google Analytics. Custom tracking was set up so Guardian could gain more insight into how users were engaging with the site. An analytics scorecard was created to track conversions (ie. enrollments, quotes, etc.), lead generation and engagement on the new site. This report will help Guardian to track the ROI of their website, assisting them in making informed decisions regarding their multi-channel marketing strategy.

    Project Management

    Agile Based Approach

    Mediacurrent and Guardian partnered with a shared vision to deliver the new site with an Agile based project management approach. To maintain project velocity, both teams committed to working in 3 weeks sprints so that the Strategy and Design teams could continue to provide content to the Development team. Daily scrum meetings and weekly working sessions ensured a high level of transparency and open communication among all parties involved and allowed us to keep our eyes on a successful delivery. With tight collaboration, we navigated through the pivots and challenges of this highly complex project to transform the customer experience and bring Guardian’s design vision to reality. 

    Final Thoughts

    We completed the Guardian UX and Design project on time and on budget, while still maintaining our processes, creating an end product that we are proud of and that was enthusiastically embraced by the client.