Kelly and Shannon Bedrich, after working with Bourn Creative on their corporate WordPress site, approached us about a website for a new venture into the electricity plan shopping market, only available in certain states in the United States.
Scoping And Discovery
Before design or development, the Electricity Plans project started with heavy scoping, discovery, and research, which resulted in a thorough, long-term project plan and development plan.
As the design and development team for the project, we jumped in alongside the client for an immense amount of research and a very deep dive into learning how the electricity regulation industry works, how online shopping for electricity plans works with various providers, and how compliance in the industry must be handled at the state level. This deep understanding of the industry provided critical insights and understandings of how to manage the visitor experience on the front-end of the site, and how to manage the publishing workflow for the site owner on the back-end of the site.
To manage the initial states at launch, and allow expansion as new states come online within the client’s business units, Bourn Creative established a WordPress multi-site network. With WordPress multi-site, each state in the network is separate site connected to the overall brand site. This enables the client to create and publish network-wide content as well as separate content by state to adhere to varying state rules and regulations, yet maintain a seamless experience across all sites for visitors.
The development process for Electricity Plans was atypical, as the site wasn’t designed in full prior to development, but instead designed and iterated upon as new information was discovered about the internal workflow, how providers transfer information, what specific providers required, and ongoing changes to meet legal compliance.
The majority of the functionality demanded by this project does not exist in WordPress or off the shelf WordPress plugins, so everything had to be built from scratch, including:
- A highly flexible WordPress multi-site network
- A custom WordPress theme
- 15 custom WordPress plugins, some of which included specific integrations or piggybacked on premium and open source plugins to enhance or change their functionality.
- A custom plan search engine, with advanced filtering and a plan comparison feature
At it’s core, the Electricity Plans site is a custom search experience that returns available electricity plans by zip-code, along with highlighted plans manually curated by the site owner.
The entire site leverages a custom workflow and publishing experience in the WordPress back-end. Because the plans require monthly updating, also integrated is a custom updater that allows pre-scheduling of plan updates to happen at the publisher’s determined point in time.
Visitors are able to search by zip code then filter the results based on things like price, contract length, popularity, percent of renewable resources, provider, rate type, and plan features. They are also able to select plans of interest and compare them.
The search results, automatically display the name of the plan, rate, primary features, provider logo, and more. If a visitor wants to learn more about a specific electricity plan, full plan data is available through a light box that provides critical plan details, pricing details, features, benefits, associated documents, and more information about the provider.
Also included in the plan light box is a custom rate price trend line chart. It is created from a custom WordPress plugin using an open source library to add a statistics module that allows the client to anonymously track certain data to show rate price trends — pricing of a particular plan over time.
In addition to the design and development of the WordPress multi-site network, Bourn Creative worked with Electricity Plans to establish the brand, which included Logo design, color palette development, typography selection, brand style guide, social media graphics, brand imagery, and more.
We continue to work with Electricity Plans on an ongoing basis for website support and maintenance, new feature additions, and ongoing design projects, and have since duplicated and adapted the technologies built for natural gas plan shopping.