Utility Websites Show Improvement in Mobile Optimization According to an E Source Study

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Recently redesigned websites that keep customers and their mobile devices at top of mind did well in the E Source Review of North American Electric and Gas Company Residential Websites: 2015.

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“Websites are constantly growing and changing, and customers’ expectations are, too. Top utilities have been able to redesign their websites to match these needs. . .

Despite advances among the top utilities in providing a mobile-optimized experience with an organized, professional look and feel, there’s still room for improvement when it comes to providing updated design and content on utility websites.

Conducted biennially since 2002, this study measures how well utility websites engage residential customers and assesses website improvements as they relate to customer needs. The top three utility websites in North America belong to (view the full rankings and scores by utility):

1.    Salt River Project
2.    ComEd
3.    NV Energy

Based on industry trends in user experience and utility feedback, this year’s study of more than 100 utility websites took a new approach by breaking the user experience into four key components: navigation, functionality, appearance, and relevance. “This new usability breakout allows for a deeper dive into the user experience and will help utilities decide which area to focus on during website redesign efforts,” says Aleana Reeves, director of the Customer Experience business line at E Source.

Overall, E Source found a need for improvement in all areas, with an emphasis on appearance, which had the lowest average rating. According to the E Source study, customers expect a uniform appearance across a website in terms of brand colors and other attributes, as well as consistency across different types of devices. This expectation of consistency applies to all four usability components.

Top-rated utilities are responding to customer needs by providing web pages that are simple, are mobile-optimized, and have options that are easy to read and select. “Websites are constantly growing and changing, and customers’ expectations are, too. Top utilities have been able to redesign their websites to match these needs, whether through mobile optimization, responsive design, or providing content that’s simple and easy to digest,” says Haley Kaiser, a market research analyst at E Source.

“Responsive designs—as well as some other mobile-optimization techniques—have helped utilities provide a more fluid experience for customers across all types of devices. In fact, all of the top 10 utilities are using effective mobile technologies,” adds Kaiser. Regional rankings are as follows:

  •     Canada: Union Gas, Fortis BC, BC Hydro
  •     US, Midwest: ComEd, Ameren Missouri, AEP Ohio
  •     US, Northeast: PPL, PECO, National Grid
  •     US, South: South Carolina Electric & Gas, Florida Power & Light, Oklahoma Gas & Electric
  •     US, West: Salt River Project, NV Energy, Xcel Energy

Rankings per utility type:

  •     Electric: Salt River Project, ComEd, PPL
  •     Gas: Southern California Gas Co., Union Gas, Fortis BC
  •     Combined gas and electric: NV Energy, Ameren Missouri, Xcel Energy

The E Source Review of North American Electric and Gas Company Residential Websites: 2015 assessed the websites of 102 US and Canadian utilities. Between January and May 2015, a group of residential customers accessed and used the top 13 features from both a mobile device and a laptop computer. These informational or transactional features were selected based on E Source market research and expertise as well as input from industry thought leaders as the features residential customers most want to see on their utility’s website.

For more information about this comprehensive study, please visit http://www.esource.com/web-review. The complete industry report will be published next month and feature-specific Design Guides are being updated for member utilities now. View the full rankings and scores by utility on the E Source website.

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Kym Wootton
E Source
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