Hitting Refresh: Gets a Redesign

Union Rural Electric Cooperative in Marysville, Ohio now has an easier way of doing business when accessing their website to pay a bill or see the latest utility updates.

The revised and user-friendly design is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate.“It was time for a refresh,” says Anthony Smith, URE CEO/president.

“We have added so many features and so much content over the years, it was simply time to do a redesign. More people than ever get their first impression from a company’s website, so it’s important that it portrays the company well. I’m excited for our team to unveil the clean and functional design to our membership and the public.”

A home page that integrates quick login for account management with SmartHub as well as all top tasks at the front and center for easy access in this task-focused homepage layout for Union Rural Electric Cooperative

To update and improve the site, URE’s web team coordinated with Pioneer Utility Resources, utilizing their web platform, Powerful. Charlie Stanley, Powerful Web Solutions manager at Pioneer Utility Resources, assisted URE with its website updates. Powerful has supported website and design efforts on more than 150 consumer-owned utilities and related organizations during the last decade.

Many additional functions

This summer, URE became one of the latest to collaborate with Powerful. “In addition to the specific needs that URE employees addressed, we suggested website changes and updates based on research, design specifications and historical data that totally removes all guess work,” Charlie says. One of the major changes was inclusion of the behind-the-scenes Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant improvements. The ADA was signed into law in 1990 to accommodate specific needs, including accessing information online. “Unless you need this service, you won’t even know it’s available,” Charlie says.

The enhancement of a search function is another feature of the URE site that makes life easier for those looking for information.

“The URE site now offers a search area, which is designed similar to what you find on Google and other sites,” Charlie says. “When customers are searching for a topic, the results are displayed in a similar format that people already recognize.”

Charlie says the website design is designed with a mobile-first approach, meaning the webpages will automatically readjust content in a responsive manner; optimizing the experience for site visitors using a smartphone or tablet. He says about half of website visitors use smartphones, tablets, or other non-PC devices.

A recent news release on the new Union Rural Electric Cooperative website. The web design was built utilizing a mobile-first approach to ensure content can be easily read and navigated to with an emphasis on mobile devices such as iPhone and Android smartphones in particular.

Hundreds of pages were repurposed from PDF files to ensure the content is now searchable, translatable, accessible, and responsive. Previously, many forms were only able to be filled out in a PDF form, making the experience of completing a task more cumbersome.

“As technology has evolved, expectations of visitors to the site have evolved as well,” says Kaytee Horton, the Powerful project manager, responsible for the implementation of the new URE website.

Foreign language options

For those whose first language is not English, the Google Translate function in the lower right corner of the website will be of interest. Google Translate offers URE website information translated into more than 50 languages.A great deal of research went into this area as well. Google reports its translation feature — which is currently used by many large companies and organizations — is 97% accurate.

Top-level pages within the new website include navigation tiles to easily navigate subpages and create a more streamlined experience, especially with site visitors who may have a shaky hand or a harder time using a mouse.

Take a gander

The new URE website is designed in an easy-to use format, which makes content management easier.If you not yet visited the site, we encourage you to check out the updated Union Rural Electric Cooperative website.

Originally Published in the August 2022 URE Edition of Ohio Cooperative Monthly