Keep it Simple: Optimizing User Experience for your Benefits Portal

March 21, 2016

Written by: Eric Frokjer

With today’s technology, the possibilities in user interface (UI) design are virtually limitless. We have High Definition on our laptops, tablets and phone, and manufacturers continue to add quicker processors. When it comes to your company’s benefits portal, let’s save the “blowing up of phones” for the war game applications and Keep it Simple.

Simple, in the context of a company’s benefits portal, does not necessarily mean lacking in benefits. Rather, it points to best practices in design configuration that truly optimizes the User Experience (UX) for your employees. Let’s face it, we all know that a smooth UX when navigating the benefits portal is essential to achieving high user adoption of online/mobile benefits enrollment.

Consider these four key stages of design for your benefits portal where you should Keep it Simple:

  1. Portal Layout. Plan the Benefits (road map to what you are going to do) before you start your configuration:
  • Simple Requirements – Keep the Benefits Portal simple, so your requirements gathering is easier.
  • Simple Approvals (internal) – If the Benefits Portal requirements are simple, it is easier for the management and legal team to understand and then approve. More complex layouts take longer to approve and invite more change.
  • Simple Testing – Simpler Portal layouts are easier and more straightforward to test.
  • Simple Signoff – After the testing, the portal configuration is easier to sign off when it is simple.


  1. Portal Template:
  • Simple is cheaper – See your Marketing or Communications group and obtain logos and colors that have already been created. No need to recreate the wheel here, use what you have.
  • Simple Colors – Don’t build the color, headings and fonts on each portal page individually. Many Portal tools allow the creation or modification of Site Themes, which hold the definitions for colors, headers, indentation and fonts. Modifying through the site team will ensure that portal looks consistent from page to page this way and allows for changes to be made quite easily later.


  1. Portal Content:
  • Simple Content – Make your content readable and to the point. Avoid being too wordy or too long.
  • Simple Data Entry – If your content is simple, it is easier to enter, validate and update later.
  • Simple Language Translation – Many clients need to have materials translated to another language and by text keeping it simple and succinct, it is easier to translate.
  • Simple Assistance – For employees who need more information about their Benefits, use links to Summary Plan Description’s or Carrier/Vendor sites.


  1. Portal Navigation:
  • Simple Navigation – When you keep your navigation inside the portal simple, the employee shouldn’t need to go more than three layers to find what they need.
  • Simple Usage – Don’t recreate some of the old/crazy IVR systems out there with too many options and too many layers. Let’s have informed members, not employees who are frustratrated because they are not able to find resources easily.

Although every organization’s benefits landscape may vary substantially, it is important that all organizations optimize UX to ensure a high rate of adoption among employees.

If your team is developing a benefits enrollment portal, it may benefit you to have an expert by your side. The HRchitect consulting team has a wealth of experience designing and configuring benefits portals. HRchitect can also provide portal maintenance as your organization’s benefits landscape changes from year to year.

Eric Frokjer

About Eric Frokjer

Eric has over 25 years of experience in the HRMS field.   Some of his experience is in implementing Human Resources, Benefits, Payroll and Time & Attendance systems. He has been working with HRchitect since 2012.