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Spotlight on... Ashley Firth, Head of Front-end Development

Chris Roper, Spotlight

10th August 2016

We're talking to Ashley Firth, front-end developer and Pokemon Go expert, about making our website fast, simple, and accessible to all.

So, Ashley, why did you join Octopus Energy?

I was working at an agency for a couple of years and enjoyed it, but there wasn't much opportunity to work on something for a long time – once the project finished you'd never see it again. I didn't know much about energy when I started, but I was excited about rebuilding the energy industry and the public's trust in their suppliers. I was also keen to work with such a talented team on some extremely large and complex problems.

What do you do at Octopus?

I'm a front-end developer, which means I take all the designs and user journeys and ensure they're consistent and good-looking for everyone, no matter what device or browser you're using.

What makes the user experience at Octopus different to other suppliers?

We use much more advanced technology which we design and build ourselves, with the customer at the centre. Our programming code is scalable, helping us remain flexible as we grow, and we automate what we can, making us more efficient. We then pass on those efficiency savings to the customer.

Our website is super fast, simple, and intuitive. You can get a quote by answering four simple questions, and the whole joining process is just three steps. People worry about switching complications, such as double-billing, home visits and such, but we take as much of the pain out of switching as we can, communicating with old suppliers so the customer only has to say yes.

For example, we take an opening meter reading and pass it to your old supplier as the final read. Other suppliers might take an opening reading but expect you to give another one to your old supplier. This might cause conflicts if the readings are separated by a day or two. But with us, it's much simpler.

We've also just finished a major review of the site's accessibility, where we optimised it for screen readers, contrast ratios, colours, and layout, to help the visually impaired and those with dyslexia or autism. We wanted to make sure that all our customers could use the site easily, no matter what their circumstances.

What are you working on right now?

Although our site is extremely fast, we're always looking at ways to make it run faster. We're looking at reducing page load times at the moment. Although there are only three pages in the sign-up process, if a customer has to wait – even for just a second – it can put them off.

Also, we've just finished functionality for customers on fixed term contracts so they can chose what they want to do next. We've also made it really easy to submit readings via an email link that doesn't require you to log in. As few clicks as possible, that's our rule!

What's the best thing about your job?

A real sense of ownership and working with a fantastic, collaborative team. I get to implement the newest and best technology, with the freedom to innovate when I see ways of doing it better.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

This is actually one of the good things about the job too, but working on a lot of projects at once can be a challenge, but everyone is encouraged to suggest ways to solve problems. Although people have their own disciplines, everyone gets stuck into problem solving when the need arises.

Any message for those thinking of switching?

Go for it! We're competitive, we've spent lots of time breaking down and solving the complex and onerous problems of the industry, and we're always transparent – even if it might not seem in our interests. The main thing is that we want to rebuild the trust lost in the industry and be a company that our customers are proud of.

Honesty, good value, transparency – these are our core principles.

Any message for those who've already switched?

Thank you. The trust and enthusiasm so far has been really humbling. If you can think of anything we can do to make your Octopus experience better, let us know, it feels great when our customers take the time out of their day to give us feedback.

Got a question for Ashley or anyone else on the Octopus team? Drop us an email at hello@octopus.energy.

Hey! Just so you know, your device is fully charged and you're still charging it. Removing the charger will avoid degrading your battery 😊

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