Northwest Natural Gas - Business and Consumer Redesign


NorthWest Natural requested an analysis of their current consumer and business interfaces. They needed recommendations to make the interfaces more usable by end users while also providing a more professional look and feel that followed their new brand guidelines.


Our solution was separated into five distinct stages. The first was to audit the existing interfaces systems, and business processes. Then we conducted a competitive service and business analysis that included business offerings, services both online and offline. The analysis provided a baseline for what content, features, and services would be required by the client to remain competitive and what would allow them to rise above their competitors.

The second stage involved modeling the target audience both internal and external to the organization. We developed a set of personals that defined the social, economic, education, and psycho-graphic influences for end users. We then modeled the services and features of the existing system and the new features slated for the next three years of development. A cross examination was conducted between the user personas and the services and features. We determined overlapping services and brainstormed on new ways for users to interact with their services and employees.

The final service model recommendations were separated into two functional groups, marketing and non-logged in experience and customer service experiences. This was accomplished by have two information designers model the two functional groups. I was tasked with modeling the business systems and the interfaces that users would interact with. I conducted three separate information structures. The first provided a recommendation that restructured the services and features to focus on the end user groups providing customer centric services and tools. The second keep with the spirit of the first information design but modeled the structure based on the current business systems processes. And the third was the most literal analysis of the existing systems and business processes.

The service models for the marketing and business systems were integrated and we then conducted usability testing on the different information designs. An analysis was conducted of the findings to correct nomenclature service structure and provided feedback on which service model was best received by the testing audience.

Lastly we designed and build new interface templates for all of the business processes and interface elements require to build the new system design.


The client was very happy with both the new interface design and information/usability design. Although not used within the current system architecture the client found the exploratory information design and system models very valuable for future service design and development. Furthermore the client's website won a national award for the design and ease of use.

Robert's Thoughts

This is a great project! The changes that occurred were more focused on existing system design and pushback from the internal Information Technology group's inexperience or lack for wanting to change the infrastructure of the services. This was an expected concern which is why we presented multiple levels of changes and did our best to support everyone on the client's team.