People-centred design

People-centred design

One of the challenges with the current EoSG system is its lack of transparency and complexity, often leaving employees reliant on their employers for clear explanations. As we seek to improve upon this framework, it is critical that we don’t replace one model of confusion with another.

Addressing the existing challenges necessitates the adoption of a people-centred design approach, one that values simplicity and engagement. Key to this is an intuitive dashboard that permits savers to gain a straightforward overview of their pension funds. The focus here is not on overwhelming users with multifaceted tools and data but rather on offering a streamlined, accessible interface. The objective is to make the transition from the current EoSG system to a funded DC model smooth, without swapping one form of complexity for another. Such an approach would facilitate greater user involvement without burdening them with excessive choices or technical jargon.

Harry Brignull, Head of UX Innovation at Smart, has pioneered research in identifying ‘deceptive patterns’ – manipulative design features that can lead users astray. As Brignull argues in his recent book, “Deceptive Patterns – Exposing the Tricks that Tech Companies Use to Control You”, such practices can manifest in various ways. The use of confusing terminology can obfuscate the complexities of financial products. Misdirection is another problematic design element, subtly guiding users toward actions that may not be financially advantageous. Additionally, hidden costs often go undisclosed until users have already committed, trapping them in less than favourable financial situations. To counteract these pitfalls, Brignull advocates for what he terms ‘ethical nudging’: directing users towards choices that are in their best interest while maintaining complete transparency.

Quick, responsive design features also hold significant value, as evidenced by Smart’s own introduction of a ‘Pause Contributions’ button during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike other systems and schemes that require members to opt out and then choose to rejoin at a later date, Smart’s innovative functionality allowed members to pause their voluntary contributions for a pre-defined number of months, with contributions then automatically restarting after that period had elapsed. This feature was swiftly implemented and proved invaluable to many members, granting them a temporary reprieve from their voluntary contributions while keeping them in active membership. By doing so, it continued to guide members toward achieving a comfortable retirement, even during an unexpected crisis.