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Commission For the Regulation of Utilities – CRU

Strategy

Our challenge was to create a new consumer hub to ensure that consumer users had immediate access to content that accommodated their needs

Idea

Elevate the authority and leadership of the CRU organisation in regards to the regulation of energy and water.

CRU on Laptop

Commission for the Regulation of Utilities
Responsive website re-design and re-development
October 2017

https://www.cru.ie/

Project Description

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (formerly the Commission for Energy Regulation) is launching a new brand and a new website. The Commission, along with the regulation of energy, has also taken on the task of regulating Ireland’s public water system, hence the new brand and name change. Established originally in 1999, the Commission has a wide range of economic, customer protection and safety responsibilities in energy and water. At a high level, their overall mission is to keep the lights on, make sure the gas continues to flow, that prices charged are fair and reasonable, the environment is protected, and to make sure energy is supplied safely.

Clickworks was commissioned to redesign and redevelop the current brand website property. Our key challenge in this redevelopment of the current site was to create a new consumer hub to ensure that consumer users had immediate access to content that accommodated their needs. Previously the site catered primarily to the industry user. We also wanted to elevate the authority and leadership of the CRU organisation in regards to the regulation of energy and water.

Design and Technical Approach

We focused on a mobile first and user first approach for our site design. Knowing that consumers in particular are accessing content through their mobile devices as increasing rates, we wanted to ensure that our site is responsive and accessible through mobile devices. We also segmented the site so that we include a consumer section and an industry section. Our consumer section is the default homepage. The insight being that industry users will be more motivated to search for the content they are looking for. Also, industry users will have an agenda in mind when visiting the site, where consumers will more likely need to search and discover. To further inform the consumer user path, we included imagery and graphics on the homepage to allow for increased scan-ability. We also included multiple call outs to allow for differing user needs and pathways.

Our approach to photography for the consumer section focused on the inclusion of lifestyle imagery. We wanted to draw the user in by representing imagery that reflected how CRU activities improve and protect their daily lives. For the industry/professional section, we sourced imagery that illustrated the power and influence of energy and water. We also included imagery that depicted professionals on the job to honour the hard work performed within this sector.

Iconography creation was also integral to the redesign of the current site. We wanted to make sure all users were directed to the core focus of the CRU organisation. To call further attention to this, we created a series of icons that depicted water, energy, safety, and customer care. Our publication search module was also a key feature of the website. We carried these icons through to help inform and identify the various types of content within our publication search. To this end, we carried through the water, energy, safety, and customer care icons, and also created a corporate and SEM icons to accommodate all content types. To complement the focus of the icons we introduced a colour coding system. This was refined in its use, to ensure the colours effectively sign-posted the user’s path through the site while optimising the visual impact and interest in the site overall.

In terms of UX, during our strategy and planning phase, we created various use cases and corresponding user paths for differing personas. We considered the various users among the consumer and professional and the different needs and circumstances for visiting the CRU site. For consumers we looked at those users who are visiting to make a complaint, understand their energy bill, or simply want to know more about what CRU does. For the professional, we considered those users who were looking to access a specific document through search, and users looking to find out more about CRU’s role in the regulation of water. We used these personas and pathways to inform the creation of our site map and wireframes. The interactive wireframes that were built were tested rigorously to make sure that the all eventual user journeys had been addressed. The personas created also helped in the creation of the visual design allowing us to meet the users’ criteria. It was crucial that we created a site taxonomy that allowed for ease of navigation and intuitive user paths.

From a technical standpoint, we recommended a move to an open-source platform and CMS. It was very important that we utilised a CMS that allowed for ease of use for content modification and creation. The website content will be updated by 20+ staff at the CRU. To allow the client control over content publishing, we incorporated advanced workflow approval functionality where admin staff approve or push back content before publishing to the live website, leaving an audit trail for review or rollback to previous versions if ever needed. We are leveraging our hosting partner’s caching system, specifically designed for the CMS in question. Our hosting partner’s best in class architecture and highly redundant systems will keep the website fast, scalable and secure.

As mentioned, our publications search module and corresponding content transition was key to the success of this new site. The publication search was accessed readily by professional users and access through search to all 12,000 documents was crucial. While the transition of this content was automated, we implemented robust quality assurance measures to ensure all document details were carried over successfully. Given this is a government site, we also needed to ensure compliance with key standards. The site was built according to AA WCAG accessibility standards, we included multiple language translation options, and considered government site best practices.

Results

While the site is only just launched and our analysis of overall performance is still pending, the site is already a success in that the CRU organisation now has a site that accommodate their crucial consumer users. The stakeholders within the organisation are also very happy with the new site. We will continue to work with CRU to enhance the current site and add more interactive tools and video content.

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