The poster child of the online insurance market just launched a redesigned website. Gone is the challenger spirit that aimed to redefine insurance the way easyJet redefined holidays. Swiftcover has been assimilated.
The tired chicken-wearing-a-headset picture still features large on their homepage, which is still clean and clear and features a large amount of real estate dedicated to their existing customers. Roughly the other half of the page is taken by old-style icons leading to their quote facility. Click on Car Insurance and you get to their new, growun up quote and buy interface.
On first inspection the new design looks like an improvement. The site makes use of the whole screen now. It dons clear, large type and an accessible template sparse in pictures that is quick to load and not completely unpleasant to look at. The main area holding the forms now uses an easy to read colour scheme and there are separate sections for help and information.
Look at it a bit harder -or try to use it- and a feeling of unease starts to creep in. Something’s not right with the chick turned hen. Customer testimonials, for instance, are shoehorned into an information box, not deserving of even a heading of their own; as if added in a hurry at the 11th hour. They are static as well, and the unfortunate choice of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Mr Moriarty as their initial one somehow removes credence from the whole thing, rendering it irrelevant at best, downright damaging at worst.
Worse, their original differentiator (swift) is gone due to the addition of a number of additional question of doubtful relevance: claims and convictions, additional other drivers and worse, an unexplained reference code if applicable that will leave potential customers scratching their heads (if not traversing the net for leaked codes to try to bring their price down). The adult Swiftcover is also patronizing – it assumes its customers will try to lie to it, and so it prominently displays a link with the unfortunate label Do I need to prove it? next to its question about no claims bonus. They might as well have placed the text Yes, you bloody liar, and we know you wanted to lie since you followed this link on the popup behind said link.
The list goes on, but you get the gist. All this should be good news for those of us working for their competitors, but it isn’t. Swiftcover were never an easyJet, Expedia or a Tesco; but they were a beacon of fresh difference on a sea of boring sameness. They were the boys in the garage challenging the mutinationals. They were going to be the Google of the insurance world. But they were never it, really. They were old insurance types wearing the jeans and turtlenecks of the Internet generation, but they kept their pinstripe suits close to their hearts. Rather than taking the challenge to completely reinvent a category in dire need of a shakeup, they created just a ripple and quickly sold out to Axa while the waves looked large. All to predictably, Axa has now groomed Swiftcover into a presentable, conforming, unchallenging adult. The site retains an air of what it could have been: all the sadder when seeing it assimilated and knowing that it will never be it now. The Swiftcover chicken has caught Axa bird flu…