CDS delivers high scoring results in South West Water UX design

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South West Water (SWW), based in Exeter, are a water and waste service utilities company that serves over 1.6 million people throughout Cornwall, Devon and in areas of Dorset and Somerset.

Summary of key project facts

  • Project goal: to produce creative design concepts based on core user experiences and customer personas.
  • The designs were tested and achieved exceptionally high System Usability Scores (SUS) across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
  • Conducted Discovery and Define workshops with key stake holders.
  • Developed a better understanding of key customer personas and how they interact differently with user tasks.
  • Conducted mood boarding workshops.
  • Google analytical reporting specifically aimed at persona engagement.
  • Online customer survey.
  • Undertook content planning and site architecture.
  • Understood current key user journeys and reduced them by over 50% within annotated wireframes.
  • Evolved and enhanced brand to convey the South West Water Story.
  • Customer validation of proposed design concepts.
  • High-level technical definition.
  • High-level solution design and concepts sign off.

“CDS approached the project in a very logical and professional manner. First they carried out a wealth of background research and absorbed themselves in all the information we had on record. All this analysis fed into the definition and design phase of the new website, which helped focus their approach from the off. Each of the deliverables were completed on time and to the highest standard making the internal sign off problem free.”

Richard Jenner, Web Strategy Manager, South West Water

Aims of the project

  • To use a new responsive website to help customers migrate to digital as the preferred channel of customer choice.
  • Promote and increase the use of self-service with current services being accessed online quickly and easily.
  • To create a design which uses the full potential of the SWW brand.
  • To have a more approachable and friendly feel as well as enhancing functionality.
  • Reduce reliance on costly communications channels such as the telephone.
  • Deliver a more compelling customer experience.
  • Device agnostic (mobile first) and multi-channel capability.
  • To provide a platform that supports a change in business models as the utility market evolves.
  • The business KPIs included:
    • Improving the Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) score
    • Improving the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) score per transaction
    • Reducing the cost per transaction
    • Targeting an 80% digital take-up rate.

How CDS delivered the project

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After gaining knowledge of the SWW brand, and immersing ourselves in the extensive documented historical data, we created a series of mood boards which covered a range of current design trends and online best practices.

CDS editors audited the existing SWW domestic content and functionality to identify what to keep, what to delete, and what needed to be created.

CDS looked at SWW marketing stats, Office for National Statistics and Google Analytics. This meant we had a huge amount of additional data to work with. Together with SWW stakeholders we identified the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) requirements.

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After developing user personas to identify the needs of key audiences and their user journeys, CDS produced interactive wireframes that clearly communicated a view of the improved user journeys, content hierarchy, and key functional features before presenting a choice of design solutions from which SWW stakeholders chose their favourite designs.

Care was taken to ensure CDS’ designs followed brand guidelines and delivered equally good experiences on desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

The results

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A score of 68 out of a 100 on the System Usability Scale (SUS) is considered above average for a website. When CDS’ design was tested the new SWW mobile site was rated 97/100, tablet was 92/100 and desktop was 78/100.

CDS UX design improved the following key areas:

  • dropdown mega menus
  • Intelligent predictive search dropdowns
  • focused on category-specific key tasks
  • FAQ’s and help videos
  • Category refine
  • The new homepage pulls out key tasks with a more effective use of colour and icons, and the responsive design makes excellent use of available space. The photography draws the user’s eye down the page past the fold line.
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Delivered within tight timescales the project has given SWW a true understanding of their customer personas. The new website design will deliver improved user-experiences, encouraging users to self-serve and help achieve the desired channel shift.

Contact for more information

For further information about CDS products and services, please visit, call Paul Meersman on + 44 (0)800 138 4308 or email