Bridging Satellite Tech to Community Impact

A UX Design Journey from Satellite Tech to Community Connection

My Role
Lead User Experience Designer
Year
2019-2021
Client
Stevenson Astrosat Ltd
Satellite image

Team

  • 1x Lead Designer
  • 5x Devs
  • 1x Product Manager
  • 1x Product Owner
  • 3x Data Analysts
  • 1x Business Analyst

Deliverables

  • Comprehensive User Personas
  • Interactive Prototype
  • Design System & UI Kit
  • Final Product Interface
  • Documentation for every design decision
  • Presentation to ESA

Results

Isolation Plus successfully launched, offering a lifeline to those feeling isolated. It's marked by strategic partnerships and user acclaim, underlining its efficacy in bolstering mental health and community ties, reflecting our drive for innovation that truly matters.

01/

Introduction.

Project overview

In the throes of the 2020 lockdown, I spearheaded the design of Isolation Plus, a pivotal extension to our main product, ORBIS. This tool, born from the synergy of space and ground data, stands as a beacon for supporting vulnerable populations. Our collaboration with the European Space Agency propelled this tool into a comprehensive solution for the unique challenges of isolation in that unprecedented year.

Goal

Our mission was unambiguous: to equip charities, government entities, and non-profits with a map-based tool that delivers. Isolation Plus, tailored amidst the multifaceted challenges of the pandemic, is our commitment woven into the ORBIS platform, aiming to forge a tangible difference in our communities.

02/

ORBIS & Isolation Plus Connection.

Setting the Stage: ORBIS and Its Evolution

Our story begins with ORBIS, a cutting-edge GIS platform blending orbital satellite and ground-based data. Originally conceived to consolidate Astrosat’s diverse data products, ORBIS evolved into a vital tool, featuring datasets like FMPA for deforestation in Guatemala, ThermCERT for fuel poverty in the UK, and RAPID for typhoon tracking in Vietnam. As the pandemic unfolded, Astrosat collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) to birth a new ORB – Isolation Plus, designed in tandem with the larger ORBIS platform.

The Challenge Unveiled:
Navigating Complexity

The journey, however, was not without its challenges. Simultaneous development of Isolation Plus and the ongoing ORBIS platform demanded meticulous coordination.

  • Simultaneous Development: Balancing the creation of Isolation Plus ORB with the ongoing development of the larger ORBIS platform posed coordination challenges.
  • Dynamic Requirements: The evolving nature of COVID-19-related data requirements demanded quick adjustments to the original roadmap and necessitated a flexible approach.
  • Collaboration Complexity: Collaborating with the European Space Agency (ESA) introduced complexities, requiring effective communication and coordination between multiple stakeholders.
  • Parallel Work-streams: Managing parallel work on Isolation Plus and ORBIS required meticulous planning to ensure both initiatives progressed seamlessly.
  • Data Integration: Integrating diverse data types into the ORBIS platform, including pandemic-related data, presented technical and organisational challenges.
  • Timeline Pressures: The urgency of addressing pandemic-related needs added time pressure, requiring efficient project management to meet deadlines.

Yet, within these challenges, opportunities for innovation and adaptation arose.

03/

Discovery phase

Centric Exploration

Our journey began with a blank slate, reaching out to charities, volunteer groups, and businesses to dig deep into what they really needed. Conversations, interviews, and workshops helped us see through their eyes. One heartfelt need from Volunteer Action Orkney really guided us: they wanted to see on a map where help was most needed. This desire for clarity and support fueled our design direction.

"I want to be able to understand from a map where there is fuel poverty in Orkney so that I can offer appropriate support and advice to those who need it most"
Staff member from Volunteer Action Orkney

Activities that Shaped the Path: Crafting Solutions Strategically

We rolled up our sleeves and dove into strategic activities to align our design with what users truly needed:

  • Persona Workshop: We explored different roles to understand their daily challenges and what drives them.
  • Customer Profile & Value Prop Canvas: We painted a picture of our users’ needs and the benefits they seek.
  • Optimising Value Proposition Fit: Like fine-tuning an instrument, we made sure our solution hit the right notes with users.
  • Assumption Mapping: We brainstormed and sorted ideas, thinking about how they might shape our project.
  • Information Architecture: Meticulously planning information architecture for an intuitive user experience.
  • User Stories & Flows: We crafted stories and flows based on real user data for Isolation Plus on ORBIS, ensuring we were building something that would work well in their hands.

By engaging directly with the needs of the community and strategically mapping out our design process, we ensured that our solution was not only user-focused but also poised for real-world application. This phase was the groundwork that allowed us to build a product that truly resonates with the needs it was created to meet.

04/

Conceptual Evolution

Shaping Ideas into Solutions

We began with a vision to transform our ideas into a tangible product. Drawing inspiration from the existing patterns within ORBIS, we started with simple, intuitive designs. Through real-world user interaction and feedback, we refined our creation. The final iteration, now enriched with an analysis toolbar and enhanced data filtering capabilities, was a response to the voices of our users, making data exploration not just functional, but also a captivating experience.

Learning and Growing with Our Users

Our first leap into user testing was like opening a dialogue with the very people we serve. We invited users to engage with our early designs and tell us their honest thoughts. This conversation wasn’t just enlightening; it was transformative for our project.

Key findings

  • Information Accessibility: Users wanted more than just data points; they craved detailed, meaningful insights.
  • Visual Clarity: 5 out of 8 users expressed interest in graphical representations rather than plain numbers.
  • Navigation Ease: The ease of moving through data was key, and our users confirmed this.
  • Intuitive Access: The simplicity of signing up and logging in was appreciated, pointing to the success of our intuitive design efforts.
  • Personal Contribution: Users expressed a desire to contribute their own data, seeking a more interactive experience.

These findings were pivotal. They didn’t just fine-tune our product; they steered us towards a more user-friendly design, truly shaped by the community for the community.

05/

Solution snapshot

Culmination of Design: The Final Solution

The final design of Isolation Plus on the ORBIS platform is the result of a thoughtful process shaped by user feedback. It stands as a testament to our commitment to integrating user insights, ensuring the interface is not only intuitive but also welcoming to all users.

Enhancing Understanding: The Analysis Toolbar

In our pursuit to elevate the user experience, we transformed the pop-up window into a comprehensive analysis toolbar. This enhancement, a direct outcome of user suggestions, now presents data through engaging visuals like graphs, making it easier and quicker for users to understand and analyse information.

Refining Search: Advanced & Cross Filtering

Our aim was to make finding the right information fast and simple. Based on what we learned in the discovery phase and from user feedback, we introduced advanced and cross filtering to Isolation Plus. These features help users quickly zoom in on the data they need without any hassle.

Enhancements for a Richer Experience

We didn’t stop at just big changes; we also focused on the smaller details to improve the overall experience. These include:

  • Custom Data Management: Now users can add their own data and easily export it.
  • Time Analysis: Look at data over time to spot trends and changes.
  • Drawing Tools: Mark and study specific areas directly on the map.
  • 3D Views: Explore data in three dimensions for a clearer understanding.
  • User Data Upload: A new feature for users to include their personal datasets

Each of these features was crafted to not only meet the needs identified by our users but also to make their interactions with the data more intuitive and productive. These thoughtful additions ensure a more versatile and engaging exploration of the data, making the user experience not just better, but truly immersive.

User Testing Round 2:
Final Designs

In our final design stage, we tested a high-fidelity prototype with users to ensure the experience was just right. This round of feedback was all about fine-tuning.

Key learnings

  • The analysis toolbar was a hit—users found it more intuitive than previous data displays.
  • New data sets suggested by users were noted for future updates.
  • The ability to bookmark their work was a favourite feature, adding a personal touch to the experience.
06/

The Journey's Impact: Outcome & Learnings

Outcomes

  • We successfully connected satellite technology with charity and community organisations.
  • Our work with Scottish charities and the European Space Agency, led to meaningful collaborations.
  • 14 charities now make more informed decisions using satellite data, thanks to our efforts.
  • We gained recognition from the European Space Agency, opening new paths for collaboration in the space sector.
  • ORBIS became the go-to satellite reception platform for partners like the NHS in Hampshire, showcasing the power of technology in civil society.

Personal Growth and Professional Development:

  • Adaptability in Design: I embraced the need for flexibility, learning to navigate and adapt to unexpected challenges throughout the design process.
  • Innovation in Engagement: By conducting virtual workshops, I kept stakeholders engaged, ensuring the project’s momentum despite any distance.
  • Impactful Design: I saw firsthand the positive change that thoughtful design can bring to communities, reinforcing my dedication to user-centred solutions.
  • Efficiency in Execution: I honed my skills in organising and prioritising tasks, ensuring that even under tight deadlines, the quality of work remained high.
  • Leadership from Afar: Managing remote teams sharpened my leadership abilities, teaching me how to inspire and drive a team towards a common goal without being in the same room.
  • Satellite Data Expertise: I deepened my understanding of satellite data’s potential, equipping myself with the knowledge to innovate and make data-driven decisions in future projects.

These insights have become invaluable assets in my toolkit as a Senior Product Designer, shaping my approach to design and leadership in the tech industry.

Other projects

Find out more projects that I have worked on