Financial Illustrator simplifies retirement options with new web app

Leading global professional company, Willis Towers Watson, approached Brightec to develop this Retirement Options Illustrator web app for their retirement support service, Retire Able. The service equips members with the knowledge they need to approach their retirement with confidence.

Willis Towers Watson Retire Able web application showing pension investment

Retirement Options Illustrator

The illustrator was intended to compare different ways that pension scheme members could take their pension benefits at retirement, helping them to make an informed choice and work towards a financially secure future. Retire Able wanted its members to feel in control of their pensions and the decisions that would financially shape their futures.

We all want security in later life, but the process of trying to understand the options available as you approach retirement can be challenging. Having the right support can help people feel more comfortable with the options available to them.

Designing a Web App to Appeal to the User

Following Willis Towers Watson’s brief, our main goal was to use our own expertise to help create a Retirement Options Illustrator web app that could be easily navigated. The tool is targeted at those approaching retirement, so typically 55-70 and needed to be accessible and intuitive. All technical elements had to be self-explanatory and easy to use. Most of all, it needed to appeal to the members of the schemes who would be using it.

This project had been running within WTW for over a year when the team approached Brightec to discuss if we could help with building the front end and assist in the designs from a mobile aspect. The WTW comms designer knew what they wanted and had already created the brand and design for the tool. From the very beginning, we wanted to fully understand WTW’s vision for Retire Able and how our designers could support the creation of a pension app in line with their requirements.

Retire Able wanted to display company logos and colour schemes to provide a more tailored solution to their customers, in line with their individual corporate brands.

The Brightec team always loves to be given the freedom to discuss project scopes, ideas and visions. It's a green light for our imaginations to kick off their slippers and put the kettle on. The Retire Able team talked us through their vision, brand and designs for the project. From there, two of our designers, Josh and Jotham, went away to help refine the web designs produced by WTW and then produce designs for mobile devices. Our team at Brightec are already passionate about making apps accessible to the everyday user, so this project was right up our street.

“Navigating the retirement process has become more challenging and complex than ever before and it is evident that people need more support to ensure they get the most out of their saved contributions.”

- Willis Towers Watson

Personalising Data Displays

To assist users in making financial decisions suited to their circumstances, WTW required the Retirement Options Illustrator to provide information tailored to the user. This is achieved by the illustration on the screen but we also added functionality to download or print this personalised information in PDF format, as a way to retain the information they explored. The document would provide the user with the information they needed to more confidently speak to their financial advisor about their pension.

Willis Towers Watson Retire Able web application shown on iPad pro

Configuring the data to ensure that the texts and graphs within the downloadable PDF were accurately tailored to the user was a significant challenge. We needed to summarise the pension information that each user had explored within the web interface and it took plenty of collaboration and experimenting to get it right. But we’re delighted with the outcome and encouraged to hear how it is helping people make more informed decisions for their future.

The downloadable PDF works by using an API (application programming interface). In essence, the computer takes the information input by the user and sends it to the API. This is then translated into usable data and sent back to the computer for integration into the PDF document. Once the user has input their information and applied the filters required to explore their options, they can download their personalised summary report. We love that it sounds so simple!

Seamless Web App Design to Increase Online Engagement

Working with Willis Towers Watson’s Retire Able design, we built a Web App front end that offered a fully informative service geared towards the individual needs of the user in a self-explanatory and connected way. We’re proud to have provided our expertise for the mobile designs. Brightec also worked with the WTW team to link this front end to their API and backend.

The member uses the Retire Able pension tool by first selecting from a defined benefit (DB) scheme or a defined contribution (DC) scheme. The Retirement Options Illustrator was built with the flexibility to define multiple benefit structures as different ‘Sections’ that can be used to make sure the tool is reflecting these differences.

Once the user selects the scheme, they are taken to an application page. During the collaboration stage, Retire Able highlighted how it was important to them that the application remained on a single page, removing the need for users to move forwards or backwards. There aren’t many things more frustrating than clicking ‘next’ on a form and the page displaying an error before taking you all the way back to the start again. We’ve all been there. The Retire Able team wanted to get ahead of this problem by having a single application page, making the whole process so much easier.

The user fills out the data entry form with some details about themselves and information about the benefits that they have built up in the scheme. The calculation engine processes this information to determine what level of benefits might be available to the member if they were to take their benefits in a different form, outside of the scheme, and presents these values in a self-explanatory graph form. The application will not submit until all inputted data is correct. In the main interface, there are toggles that allow the member to alter the form of benefits so they can compare which better suit their personal needs, giving them a well-rounded view of their financial situation and what could be improved.

The entire application design makes it easier for an individual to understand and process information about their pension. It gives the power to the user, ensuring they are equipped with the knowledge they need to discuss their financial future. After all, the best person to plan for your future is you!

Delivering an Intuitive and Adaptable Pension App

Citizens Advice suggest that, “providers could do more to explore the potential of digital tools to help people better engage with their pensions information […] we therefore need to make sure that everyone gets the advice or guidance they need, at the right time, and in the right way for them.”

Willis Towers Watson Retire Able web application showing pension fund graph

We have all tried to use websites on our phones or tablets that aren’t properly configured to fit the page, and it’s frustrating at the best of times. At Brightec, we like to ensure simplicity in our app development and that’s why we built the Retirement Illustrator platform using the Bootstrap layout.

In grid form, the Bootstrap layout helps ensure uniformity throughout the site across all devices. Whether the member is accessing the pension calculator from their iPhone or Android, tablet or desktop, the site will automatically adapt to that device. The transition is so seamless, it’s a thing of beauty!

Future Proofing the Pension App

At Brightec, we love designing tech that is as future proof as possible. Technology is constantly advancing, and new developments quickly become outdated. The Retire Able team were very keen that their web app should be able to continue supplying its members with up-to-date, relevant, and informative pension information for the foreseeable future.

Willis Towers Watson Retire Able web application shown on laptop screen

As an update to the initial project, the Retire Able team went on to produce instructional videos, talking users through the navigation of the web app as well as educating them around the option under consideration. We linked this video to display for certain organisations, providing easy-to-follow instructions for those less used to filling out forms online. This feature improves accessibility and is intuitive to use, but is also optional for each build, depending on if it is required by the scheme or not.

The resulting application is an intuitive, informative and empowering piece of software that helps people take control of their financial futures. Gone are the days of sitting down with a calculator, a pen, and a piece of paper for hours of confused head-scratching. Retire Able provides a pension service that has been purposefully designed for the user. No jargon, no generalised information that is long out of date, just a simple step-by-step process designed to help the user make informed decisions about their financial future, with confidence.

We Enhance the User Experience

At Brightec, we think technology should be intuitive and it should inform and enhance the user experience, not hinder it. That’s why we design intelligent web apps for the everyday user. Whether you are a technical whizz-kid or not, we develop applications for iPhone and Android that help make life easier. Call us on (+44) 1273 625959 or email us at to find out how we can help you.

To discover more about the apps we have developed, check out our projects page.