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Morningstar Asset Library Web Application
The Morningstar Asset Library Web Application was developed as a convenient, online solution for solar engineers and other technicians who work with the company’s products every day. Morningstar Corporation is based in Newtown, PA, and provides industry leading solutions for monitoring, maintenance, management, storage, and distribution of energy within solar power systems. Due to the complex technical nature and cost of large scale solar installations – as well as the narrow margin for error in building new implementations – maintaining a substantial knowledge repository is business-critical for the company and its wholesale partners.
Redsqware was initially contracted to consult on custom web development for Morningstar’s primary B2B marketing site. The client was very happy with the end result; including a 35% net increase in traffic, and the addition of a CMS to make editing and maintenance easier for its IT personnel. As a result of this success, Redsqware was asked to assist in the planning, architecture, and development of a significantly more complex series of web-based tools. These included a Morningstar Solar String Tool Web Application, and the Morningstar Asset Library Web Application.
In addition to tens of thousands of assets, the company had a broad variety of content types in a large pre-existing library. Unfortunately, the knowledge base was built on an older, static architecture that the company had long since outgrown. Managing its documents, tech notes, software downloads, images, training videos, CAD files, and corporate documentation had become a substantial drain on the limited resources of Morningstar’s technical specialists and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Because pre-existing shrink-wrapped software was either unsuitable for the client’s purposes or cost prohibitive, Redsqware designed a new web application library from the ground up – based on a scalable, open source model.
To start, our development team created a crawler to scrape all assets and text content, and add them to a new PostgreSQL database. Our content development team then began to clean up each entry in the database using a series of custom scripts developed specifically for the client’s purposes. Redsqware’s User Experience (UX) team created a custom library search interface that employs several standard methods simultaneously to help users arrive at the desired content as quickly as possible. The goal was to eliminate redundant, unintended, or unwanted results – and rapidly narrow the search funnel, saving time. The new library search tool created by Redsqware actually employs several standard methods for custom search concurrently; including visual search, tagging, drilldowns, and user ratings of content. Because engineers use laptops in the field, the User Interface (UI) was designed around the desktop search experience at the client’s request.
The result is a powerful, scalable DAMS (Digital Asset Management System) capable of handling hundreds of thousands of results in realtime. The new web application was a huge hit with dealers and customers, too. Redsqware was able to save the client literally thousands of man-hours each year in customer support requests, while increasing customer loyalty and substantially decreasing product returns. A perfect example of the powerful ROI a client can realize with the right custom web application.