United Policyholders levels the playing field between large insurance companies and the insured by providing detailed and trustworthy independent information for consumers of all types of insurance across the United States.

As a non-profit consumer advocate group that relies on donations, UP is understandably cautious about expenditure. Their previous website however, built a decade ago, was no longer up to task and was failing to help UP achieve its core mission – to deliver information primarily to natural disaster victims who have seen damage to or have lost their homes.

Waqa Studios was tasked with replacing an aging platform with one that would be able to:

  • Offer an easy to modify landing page to act as a gateway for different target audiences – from disaster victims, to insurance shoppers, to press and donors.
  • Allow visitors to search through over a decade of legal assistance to courts.
  • Provide access to information about available support, guidance, resources and events for victims of recent disasters.
  • Display directories of verified professional services providers.
  • Explore a library of articles related to different insurance types and situations.
  • Display news and feature media appearances.
  • Browse yet another large library of articles and tips related to purchasing the right kind of insurance for different circumstances.

Delivering an advanced consumer advocate portal.

UP was fearful of being trapped by a platform with declining market share and less conscious about backwards compatibility, so we opted for WordPress as the base for our custom solution. 

Using the WordPress custom post type and taxonomy structure, we were able to build a series of libraries to store UP’s vast array of materials. We then custom coded a means to interact with these libraries via a series of search and filter tools.

One technique was to use color coding to denote main types of content – recovery information, preparedness information, and advocacy information – and then use the main menu as a key/legend, a kid of visual cue to show which color refers to which content type. These colors are then applied throughout the website to links and buttons to show what type of information the lead to.


Other than using main navigation menus to access content, which would require a visitor to know what it is they were looking for and where it would be located, we implemented a host of other innovative features to help visitors locate related or follow-on information.

Waqa Studios was very clear about how they could help us improve our website, and this was reflected in the many phone conversations with me and other UP representatives, as well as in the proposal. Stuart’s research on our work and how a new website could enhance our mission was important in reassuring our staff that Waqa Studios was the right group to work with us.

Stuart took the time to look over our site comprehensively and assess its strengths and weaknesses before we even started. This “information gathering” stage was quite valuable to ensure that everyone on our staff was comfortable with what was, for us, a large and expensive undertaking.

Waqa understood our goals, and having many conversations to get clarity before the actual work started was important to both parties.

Carolyn Winter - on starting the project
Program & Outreach Coordinator, United Policyholders

One recurring issue UP had was that they found it difficult to use their website to interact with disaster victims attending the events UP organizes for them. This was resolved with an events calendar where upcoming events can be posted for visitors to register for, and where past events are listed so that attendees can view recordings of the events and access attached resources. This has made it easier for people to find and register for events and has reduced the amount of manual communication work needed by UP to publicize and register attendees.

For regular visitors looking for all kinds of information the results of the work undertaken to overhaul the UP website were also favorable. Content hidden behind multiple clicks is now accessible via far fewer clicks. Methods of suggesting to the visitor what content would be useful and should re read next was also a benefit. This guidance towards information replaces relying on the visitor knowing what they should be looking for.

From my perspective only, having the events all in one section has helped my workload enormously. I’m particularly grateful since this section was not indicated at the beginning of the project, but your team just went with it and produced something so functional and attractive. Wildfire survivors were frequently asking where they can find a recording or information about a past event, and those requests are already being reduced. Anecdotally, I’m also getting fewer comments that say that can’t find something on our website. Any small thing that makes it easier for this group of people very much in need to find information is an improvement. This central location for all events will also help us with our grant reporting.

Carolyn Winter - on the results, events section
Program & Outreach Coordinator, United Policyholders

Waqa Studios made insightful observations about opportunities to improve our old website and showed a clear understanding of our mission and goals that gave us confidence that the new site would be easier to navigate and more useful to our target audiences.

Amy Bach, Esq.
Executive Director, United Policyholders

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