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18 April 2012
Our work: Another first for Centrica as FTSE100’s first web app goes live
Senior Consultant | Read all Andrew's posts
Centrica is a long-standing client of ours and one we’ve been proud to work with over the last few years, helping the energy company launch the first FTSE100 corporate blog, innovate in its approach to online annual reporting, and be at the forefront of trends such as content personalisation, data charting and social media activity.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that we developed the UK’s first FTSE100 mobile web site with another client, so we’re especially pleased to have developed the FTSE100’s first web app with Centrica. It’s good to carry on the tradition both of breaking new ground and of working on joint research and development projects with our clients.
The Centrica web app
A web app looks, feels and behaves just like a regular app but works across a range of mobiles and tablets rather than just the specific iPad, iPhone, Android or Blackberry device that native apps have to be developed for.
The key benefit is that you can build one web app for all users rather than having to create a series of different apps which have to be approved by companies such as Apple and Google and then downloaded from their own proprietary stores.
The Centrica web app has been optimised to work on all tablets including iPads and is also accessible on mobile devices. It’s available at www.centrica.com/app, or if you visit www.centrica.com on an iPad you’ll be asked if you want to try out the app.
As ever we’d love to know what you think, so please leave comments below or email me.
For Centrica, as the app is part of a digital communications strategy based around engaging with stakeholders, and giving them more choice over how and where they want that interaction to take place. As our FTSE100 online audience report showed, mobile and tablet visits to corporate sites continue to grow rapidly – from 0.5% to 7.5% of total visits in 2 years. Centrica’s corporate site is actually ahead of the curve: mobile device use already represents around 12% of all traffic, with one device – the iPad – accounting for almost a third of that.
Having considered a number of options, including the corporate iPad apps currently available in the market, Centrica decided that the best way to address the needs of its target audiences – and tablet users in particular – was to launch its own web app.
It was important for Centrica to retain control over its corporate communications and be able to make changes and upgrades when it wanted rather than requiring third-party approval. The new web app is available to anyone online and is updated automatically through the same platform as the corporate web site. Centrica also has direct and free access to web analytics data – which is not always the case with native apps – and uses the information as part of its user behaviour analysis across all platforms.
We identified investors and media as the key stakeholders for the app at launch: they generate 22% of mobile site traffic, and the share price page was the second most accessed page on mobile devices (after the home page). But it wasn’t just about numbers: key senior executives at Centrica wanted a mobile version of the site they could take into meetings and refer to on their travels.
So the app has been designed specifically to meet the needs of those key audience groups, carrying a mix of content including corporate news, blog posts, share price, events calendar, publications, investor presentations and videos which are presented in a bold format with gesture-based control.
It’s fair to say that working on developing the web app you see today has been a fun and challenging experience. An agile approach to both design and build is needed, something the Financial Times also found when they developed their web app, given the evolving nature of HTML5 standards and of course device changes (new iPad anyone?!).
We hope the end result is an app that the user finds intuitive, useful and enjoyable. And we’ll be continuing to develop it, according to our own web analytics data we can gather, and without the need to submit updates to any stores.
Some of the benefits of Centrica web app:
- Similar functionality to a native app and key functions work offline
- One app for multiple devices
- Accessible to all through a direct link or on the corporate site – does not require the user to find and download from an app store
- Does not require launch and update approval from app store owners
- Cheaper to create a bespoke web solution than a series of native apps
- Works on the same platform as the corporate site so you only need to publish content once
- Free, full and direct access to web metrics data
More future proof as new devices are launched over time
Posted by Andrew Betts at 15 June 2012
Nice app, and great to see more large businesses adopting web standards. Thanks for the mention. Hate to be pedantic, but we are also in the FTSE 100!
Reply from Andrew at 18 June 2012
Thanks for the comment.
Sorry for any confusion on the FTSE100 point - we mean that the Centrica app is the first one for corp comms from a FTSE100 company.
As admirers of the FT app we're familiar with it and we'd see it as a slightly different animal to the Centrica one. Now if Pearson had a web app....
Look forward to discussing this - and other topics I'm sure - at the seminar on HTML5 we're co-hosting with Communicate magazine on 26 June (sorry about the shameless plug readers: details can be found in Paul Greenwood's blog of 24 May on this site; I'll be there, and Andrew is speaking).
Any statements made in these blog posts are the views of the blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of The Group.