Western Water is one of Victoria’s largest, regional, urban water corporations. Western Water provides water, recycled water, and sewerage services to 60,000 properties across a region of 3,000 square kilometres and a population of 161,500. We were engaged by the organisation to redesign and redevelop its website to improve its digital offering to consumers, with a strong focus on usability and a commitment to customer engagement.
We collaborated closely with Western Water’s internal stakeholders and worked through a number of information architecture workshops to plan the website's user interface. This process involved researching usage patterns of the existing website, and developing user personas as representations of key audience segments. From this analysis, we defined a set of "Top Tasks": common tasks that customers had identified as being the most frequently used, or most important.
The website is designed based on this understanding; these tasks, such as “Pay a Bill”, have been prominently positioned on the website’s homepage as quick links. Other tasks are still easily achievable through the website's robust menu system, but primary navigation elements are only accessible through the “Menu” button in the top-right-hand corner. This removes distracting elements from the design, and ensures that the user's eye is drawn to the quick links first.
As a primary communication tool for the organisation, the website can be used to notify residents of outages, both planned and unplanned. With various ways for these to be displayed, Western Water is able to ensure critical interruptions are highlighted on the website’s homepage, while minor, planned interruptions are covered on internal pages deeper in the website.
The website also includes an interactive service area map, which displays the organisation’s service boundaries and features points of interest such as the Western Water head office, reservoirs, and current service interruptions. This custom-built map can be filtered to show or hide these points of interest based on their type, and will cluster markers into groups to avoid having densely placed markers overlap with each other and become unusable.
As an organisation with a strong community focus, the website also has a strong educational focus. One such element is found on the homepage, where Western Water's key metrics—water use, reservoir levels, etc—are highlighted to provide a snapshot of the organisation. This is also achieved through an automated news area that displays recent articles that detail the organisation's initiatives and events. Finally, close integration with the organisation’s social media ensures that website users are aware of Western Water's broader digital platform.
The website was developed in line with best practice responsive design principles in order to provide an optimised user experience, no matter the device used to access it. The project also involved a thorough compliance audit against the requirements of Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
In follow up to the website, we've also been engaged to deliver a series of email templates that will extend the website’s design style to customers’ inboxes, and will be used to distribute utility bills and service information.