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The Evolution of Partner Connect & The Power of Iteration

Aug 2023
Mike Zimmer

An Exploration of Design Philosophy by Michael Zimmer and how our partner program, Partner Connect, made our entire platform more functional.

Aug 2023
Mike Zimmer

Since this post was originally published, Betterview was acquired by Nearmap. References to Betterview, the company, or its products have been maintained for historical accuracy. Betterview is now the primary solution for the insurance industry at Nearmap.
Intuitive, user-centric experiences – that is the guiding principle of UX design at Betterview. Consequently, we regularly update our property intelligence platform based on user feedback and new technology developments. The process is iterative, not static. A great example is how we organized partner integrations in our new UI. The progressive iterations of our partner program, Partner Connect, made our entire platform more functional. Let’s explore this process, and how the results empower underwriters to make rapid, confident policy decisions.
Form as Function: How We Organize Partner Data
“Form as function” was key to our design philosophy with Partner Connect. Instead of making any assumptions, we asked underwriters how they actually used partner integrations day-to-day. This analysis revealed the COPE framework (Construction, Occupancy, Protection, Exposure) was a better way to organize integrations than grouping by provider – so we modeled our new UI directly on COPE. Embracing “form as function” also led to further iterations:
  • Introducing a global search of our whole data graph, allowing users to search for relevant data points using keywords (e.g. “occupancy” or “wildfire”). 
  • Customizing property profiles to feature the most important partner data points for each insurer, surfacing key risk indicators to the top of the user experience. 
  • Connecting partner integrations with our platform’s advanced tools, such as defensible space and flood zone maps, to make them instantly accessible for users. 
The function of these features – and therefore their form – is to layer hierarchy on top of complexity. First, we gathered a vast selection of property data and tools (Partner Connect features over 2,000 data points, including predictive peril analytics, on-demand inspection tools, and a wealth of business data). Then, we tailored our information architecture to enhance the data and integrate it into our UI. Finally, we created functionality with easy-to-use tools. Through this process form and function are unified. Disparate sources of property data combine into a holistic solution, maximizing underwriter efficiency and reducing expenses for insurers.
Never Stop Iterating: Continuous Improvement
But that’s not the end of the story. As happy as we are with the current design of Partner Connect, we also know that the dynamic nature of P&C insurance will necessitate more iterations down the road. Rather than resisting this, we embrace it by laying the groundwork for future improvements in the architecture of our platform itself. Existing features are augmented by partner integrations, and the integrations are in turn strengthened by existing features. This cycle of continuous, cumulative improvement allows us to respond rapidly to customer feedback and to the latest developments in generative AI:
  • Partner Connect is fully integrated with our LLM-based chatbot Copilot, which provides plain language answers to queries about any available data for a given property profile, and also redirects users to contextual imagery. 
  • Users can create powerful conditional statements within our flagging engine, combining data from multiple providers to surface relevant risk drivers such as peril vulnerability or building occupancy. 
  • An info icon cites the source and range of every partner data point. Coalesced fields indicate when there are conflicting data sources, and reveal which source Betterview has the most confidence in. 
The Path Ahead
This last feature is worth drawing special attention to as one of our unique differentiators. Some companies are not transparent about the sources and confidence of their data, treating their solution as infallible and unchanging. This is antithetical to my design philosophy and to Betterview’s whole ethos. We embrace functionality and constant improvement because our customers depend on us to make critical decisions based on evolving risk factors. Hence, our platform itself is also constantly evolving. This is reflected in the iterative way we integrated Partner Connect into our new UI – and it means that in the future it will only grow stronger.
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