Redesigning the prime digital channel

The customer has matured into the brand it wanted to be but to support the next stage of its transition, the utility company decided that two years after its rebrand, the time was right to review the company website – its primary digital channel. The operational teams managing the website were deemed mature enough to embrace and support the overhaul of the entire navigation of the website including the three most visited areas: ‘Connections’, ‘Roadworks’ and ‘Contact us’.

While the transactional element of ‘Connections’ is under review, as part of more comprehensive transformational changes, the website will remain the doorway to the ‘Connections’ service. But ‘Roadworks’ is a source of significant disruption for the business and results in a large number of calls to the customer service centre. Whereas ‘Contact us’ provides an opportunity for the site to guide customers more clearly around self-service resulting in call deflection, which will play a large part in the future content strategy.

Keytree was the obvious choice to deliver the much needed enhancements having worked closely with the customer on previous projects and was also instrumental in the creation of the end to end strategy for its digital presence. Right down to the selection of the content strategy, CMS and information architecture. The original design served the customer well through a significant period of change but to support the emerging needs of the business, and the growth of information available, Keytree was asked to evaluate and implement new site architecture and content structure. The end goal was to enhance the overall customer experience and reduce the number of calls to its customer service centre.

“We couldn’t be happier with the redesign driven by Keytree. During the project, we collaborated with a team of UX experts, designers and developers from Keytree and we continue to enjoy working with them on a regular basis to ensure we continuously improve our website and the customer experience.”

Customer Digital Marketing Advisor

Researching and incorporating user needs

The User Research team at Keytree has a strong track record in engaging with stakeholders to understand their needs and requirements plus extensive experience in delivering outcomes from user research. To kick start the user research process, a series of workshops with key stakeholders reviewed project goals and success criteria, scope and the target audience. This approach confirmed high-level priorities to improve the website including reducing page load time, enhanced navigation, the redesign of important pages – ensuring enhancements delivered followed mobile-first principles.

The Keytree methodology keeps the design process user-centred, which means researching at regular intervals during the project. This approach will maintain the focus on real user and customer needs but also allows Keytree to build updates to the website that have been prioritised by user requirements.

Findings from the user research highlighted that as a direct result of users not being able to find information on the website, the business was handling a large number of telephone enquiries. Incorporated with inflexible templates and slow page loading times, it was clear that the user experience needed a full overhaul. The website had outgrown the main and secondary navigation but as the customer was already using Kentico, the CMS solution implemented previously by Keytree, it supported the introduction of a ‘mega-nav’ solution.

Due to the continued expansion of the site, with more sections added over time, ‘in-section’ navigation was included in the secondary navigation to avoid users being returned to the ‘mega-nav’ every time they wanted to move onto somewhere else. This approach directed users to landing pages but with a broad audience and an abundance of information across the site – the ‘mega nav’ helped provide utility customers with an improved user journey. The success is highlighted by the fact that within one month of going live, the average time spent ‘on-page’ increased by 13% – a clear indication that users are reading the content.

The customer made it clear to Keytree that page loading speed was especially important as if a customer has a gas emergency they must be able to retrieve information as quickly as possible without having to wait several seconds for the website to load. The new website design by Keytree has resulted in loading times being reduced from eight seconds to under three seconds. But just as important as loading times is web access via mobile devices. Mobile phones are responsible for more than one-third of traffic to the website, so Keytree delivered the redesign following a mobile-first approach. As the previous version of the website was built primarily for desktop users, the redesign now offers easy access on multiple devices and platforms – responsive across desktop, tablet and mobile phone screen sizes, with information compressed and simplified accordingly.

Supporting accessibility requirements

During delivery, the utility company wanted to add an ‘out of scope’ task to the project namely ‘Recite Me’ – a web accessibility tool that would allow website access to users who may not have been able to under normal conditions. Although the software was not in scope, Keytree was able to rework the project plan to include this vital amendment and worked very closely with its customer to ensure all accessibility needs were fully understood, and to guarantee the software was fully implemented.

The inclusion of the software forms part of a commitment made by the utility company to meet accessibility needs and requirements for all customers. Now when a visitor lands on the website, they can translate the site into over 100 languages and also customise the site to work in a way that is best suited to meet their needs including text to speech functionality, dyslexia tools and an interactive dictionary.

Business benefits

As a regulated business sector, any utility company needs to have version control of all documents on its site. To meet this need, Keytree created a central documents library, which means its customer is now able to ensure that when they update any document, the new version of said document is updated across every relevant page on the site. The redesign also featured the creation of several templates that were used across key sections of the site to ensure that it could make the best use of the content available, rather than squeezing content into a template that might not necessarily work.

The website is now accessible from any type of device with the greatly improved navigation, quicker load times, a centralised library for documentation and the inclusion of accessibility software. The utility company now has a digital channel that will provide the expected high levels of user experience to its customer base and reduce the number of telephone calls to the customer service centre. And more importantly, making it far easier for users to find the information they need.