ETL Revamp: Interview with the Experience Designer
Energy Efficiency Through Digital Efficiency
At the heart of the ETL's mission lies the ambition to champion energy efficient technology so that UK businesses and the Public Sector can make greener energy choices. By influencing the design, availability, promotion and adoption of the most energy-efficient equipment, the ETL aims to be a cornerstone in procurement decisions.
In order to maintain its relevancy and grow its influence in this sector, the ETL recently underwent a makeover with a redesigned website, thanks in part to Kristine Smukste, the Experience Designer from the ETL Scheme Delivery Team at ICF Consulting.
In this interview, Kristine takes us behind-the-scenes and sheds light on the challenges, redesign objectives, and key features that went into designing the new website, as well as the benefits users can expect.
The First Step
Kristine, with her extensive background in digital product development, branding, and web solutions, focused on how users interact with the ETL, especially across digital touchpoints.
She recalls the intensive discovery phase of the project, where direct interactions with ETL users informed the redesign process.
“I was lucky enough to be speaking with the actual users of ETL - those who knew ETL well and those who didn't - to really understand what their needs were.
We undertook a general content sweep of the site because some of it was no longer relevant and not organised efficiently to fit the needs of the different target audiences - mainly manufacturers and purchasers.”
The challenge was clear: streamline the user journey, cater to diverse user needs, and effectively communicate the value of the ETL scheme.
The Three Goals
Three specific goals guided Kristine in the redesign process.
First was creating tailored journeys for different target audiences – this demanded a content revitalisation. The focus was on answering user queries efficiently with tailored content and clearly distinguishing content intended for different audiences.
Second was to create a clear way to discover new content and give users a reason to return. According to Kristine, showcasing upcoming technologies and new additions became a key feature, giving users an incentive to return and proving that there was a benefit in following the ETL in the long term.
Third, was that efficiency was paramount – signposting and reducing ambiguity, ensuring users found what they were looking for, such as, search functions and FAQs, so Kristine focused on ensuring relevant content can be found more easily.
"Showcasing upcoming technologies and new additions became a key feature, giving users an incentive to return and proving that there was a benefit in following the ETL in the long term."
“We understood that some users have difficulty finding the product or technology they were interested in. So, we found a way within the search functionality to tweak the results so that they are now better categorised and sorted. This offers much faster and simpler results.
Another challenge was that the audience is split between purchasers and manufacturers, and users have very different levels of knowledge in terms of the ETL scheme. So, we had to redesign the user experience to work better for all the different types of user needs. If they’ve never used the ETL before, they need to see crucial information first, such as what the ETL is, how it works, etc. If they’re familiar with the ETL and use it regularly, then they may just want to go straight to the product search function or to the Manufacturer’s Portal. We needed to make that really simple, so that's why we've made these accessible right up front.”
Carousels and Accordions Leading the Change
Among the notable features introduced in the redesign, Kristine highlights two: carousels and accordions.
“The idea revolves around the visual aspect of a carousel and an accordion, where you can rotate through, or expand, a lot of content in a fairly minimal space. These components allow us to reduce the cognitive load for users by revealing more detailed content on the same topic. And at the same time, it doesn’t hold up other users who prefer to jump over this content and continue their browsing experience.”
These features, when integrated, significantly cut down the number of clicks needed for users to access desired information.
“Whereas before it was five or six clicks, now its two or three.”
"It’s the same idea about efficiency and saving, but in a digital experience sense."
Digitally Efficient, Just Like the ETL's Mission
The crux of the redesigned website lies in aligning with the philosophy of the ETL – making the digital experience as efficient as the energy-saving products it promotes. Kristine emphasises the importance of progressive disclosure, allowing both experienced and novice users to tailor their journey according to their preferences.
“For me, the benefit for the users of the new design is that it aligns nicely with the philosophy of the ETL itself – helping UK businesses and the Public Sector find energy efficient and energy saving products. This redesign helps users make the most efficient use of their time.
So, it’s the same idea about efficiency and saving, but in a digital experience sense.”
A Reciprocal Relationship with Users
Looking to the future, Kristine also envisions an ongoing conversation with users.
The redesigned site not only streamlines information but actively encourages user feedback, shaping the future of the ETL website. The aim is to democratise the digital experience, ensuring users have agency and a voice in how the platform evolves.
“To do so, we encourage users to share their feedback, which is now very easy thanks to the redesign. For example, what new product categories would they like us to consider going forward? They can influence that through the New Technology Process (NTP) which happens every year to review the products on the site.
ETL website design: homepage before and after (from the left)
We want a reciprocal experience, whether that's providing them with information about smart technology, exploring new categories to add to the site, or offering completely new features to address the changing needs. In fact, a lot of the categories that go on the site are put forward by manufacturers’ suggestions.”
The aim is clear: transform the website into a collaborative space, ensuring the ETL website remains a responsive and user-centric hub for energy efficient technology. All the while aiding the UK’s journey towards its Net Zero Goals and standing ready to guide users with a seamless, digitally efficient experience.