App Development Allows Delaware Co-Op Customers to Beat the Peak from Their Mobile Devices

App Development Allows Delaware Co-Op Customers to Beat the Peak from Their Mobile Devices

Nothing is better than managing your account from the palm of your hand

Team Inclind | 2019-06-26

Get your phones out, Delaware Electric Cooperative members, because you can now Beat the Peak in between checking email, texting and scrolling through your Facebook feed. All thanks to a brand new Beat the Peak app launched this week — available on Google Play and the Apple Store. But wait...there’s more! Now you also have a brand new website to get up-to-date information on outages, manage your account, find out about all the energy savings programs available and even calculate savings from using an electric vehicle.

Delaware Electric Co-op (DEC) is a member-owned utility company that serves Sussex & Kent Counties in Delaware. Inclind has served DEC as a long-time website design and development partner. DEC came to Inclind for a third time to give the main website a facelift, upgrade to Drupal 8 to take advantage of newer features and build an app to replace analog Beat the Peak indicators. The project kicked off at the end of 2018 with a goal of launching in early Summer 2019. Mission accomplished!

Beat the Peak with an App!

If you are DEC member, you know all about Beat the Peak — the program that notifies you of peak hours to dial back on electric use, which can save you some serious coin. In the past, members received indicators that plugged into electrical outlets. If you wanted to “Beat the Peak” you kept watch over the indicator that turned red during peak energy times, yellow when leading up to a peak and green when electric use wasn’t in high demand. You could also sign up for emails to notify you of pending peaks.

But now, with the new app, you can proactively Beat the Peak from your tablet or phone. You can also get push notifications to alert you of upcoming peaks. This is really handy if you have a smart house and can remotely dial back on electric use from wherever you are.

The app is powered by the Drupal 8 content management system (CMS) which also runs the new website — so content is all coming from the same system. This simple app will save DEC in hardware costs over the long-term by replacing the indicators and, instead of having to create multiple forms of communication to notify members of peak statuses, notifications are generated from one place.

The Website Gets a Super-Charged Redesign
The lifespan of the current website was coming to an end. The new website needed to address current design expectations and technology changes, while offering a better mobile experience.

Content heavy pages needed more layout structure and the homepage needed more depth. The DEC powers-at-be also wanted members to be able to login to their accounts directly from the home page for a more seamless user experience.

Team Inclind, including Bryan Cordrey as project lead, Amy Wood on design and content integration, Nick Bumgarner on front end development and Alex McCracken on back end Drupal development, kept in close communication throughout the project with Jeremy Tucker, DEC’s marketing manager. This was key to keeping momentum on the project to make the early summer deadline.

The Inclind team has once again knocked it out of the park with a new website and app that will significantly enhance the member experience,” stated Tucker. ”We asked for a site to help us better engage with our consumers and educate them about important Co-op programs. Inclind definitely delivered — they provided incredible service throughout the design process.”

The new website features a modern visual design with a better mobile experience, streamlined navigation, more user-friendly webforms, a homepage login directly to SmartHub for members to manage their accounts and pay bills, and plenty of opportunity to highlight promotions like energy savings programs. It even features a cool little electric vehicle calculator!

And, of course, the site is fully optimized for accessibility and search engine success.

Gutenberg: A Whole New Way to Edit Content on Drupal
While the new website sure does look bright and new, the real spark is behind the scenes in the content management. The new Gutenberg editor was enabled on the Drupal 8 CMS which allows for custom blocks like features, accordions, info boxes and card layouts that Jeremy or any other content editor can easily use to bring page layouts to life.

The Beat the Peak landing page is just one example of all the reusable features that can make these pages more robust and interesting. All content manageable elements. Nothing hard-coded here.

While the power of Drupal is undisputed, it has traditionally gotten a bad rap for being hard to use for content managers. Gutenberg, originally developed for Wordpress, has made its way to Drupal and is a complete overhaul in ease-of-use in authoring and managing content for Drupal sites.

Adopting Atomic Design with Pattern Lab
By using the principle of atomic design, the website was designed from the ground up, using atoms, molecules and organisms to define the design system known as Pattern Lab. Not a hugely new concept but one that Team Inclind decided to implement on this project. Instead of delivering pixel perfect page designs that could present issues in development, the design was approached by designing small parts, developing them out and combining them into the whole picture so the client could get a better perspective on the real design outcome. Developers could throw up red flags on potential issues early in the process — saving time and money for everyone.

Monitoring Success
Through the post-launch phase, the Inclind Team will be working closely with DEC to monitor website and app performance and, ultimately, ROI. As with any of our projects, we are plugged into getting results outlined from the very beginning of the project, throughout the active phase of development and after the website is live, through continued support. We value our ongoing relationship with Delaware Electric Cooperative and its members and look forward to the success of the new website and app.

Tucker says, “The website looks great on desktop as well as mobile and the executive staff here is excited for the launch. We can’t wait for our members to see what Inclind has been working on, we are confident they will be as impressed as we are.”

Is your organization looking to upgrade your Drupal website, get a better way to manage content or provide an app for your users, contact us today!

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