1Spatial - Ministry of Defence UI/UX design

1Spatial is a leading geospatial data management and master data management provider. To help deliver a project for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Make it Clear was invited by 1Spatial to be their UX/UI research and design partner. Within the context of a complex programme of transformation being delivered by a consortium of suppliers, our brief was to redesign an application that manages aeronautical information for the Royal Air Force (RAF).


The challenge

The current application was originally developed by 1Spatial some 25 years ago. New versions of the application were periodically released to offer additional functionality within the parameters of the original interface design and information architecture. With the passage of time, the need arose to have a fresh look at the objectives of the application, its technology underpinning, and the organisation and visualisation of the application’s information so that users would be able to use the application as efficiently and effectively as possible in relation to the role they perform. 

The backdrop to our project was a wider system change initiative happening at the MoD. Several products are used by different teams at the MoD in sequence to complete a series of separate tasks that contribute to final output. These products are owned and supported by different suppliers, and 1Spatial’s product is one of several in a consortium. As a result, we only had an influence on the UX/UI of our specific application and not on any adjacent products that form part of a wider user journey and flow of information.

Make it Clear’s objective was to design a modern interface in line with UX/UI best practices and to deliver design system foundations to inform future design and development of the application. The success metrics for this project included performance improvements (50% speed increase), compliance with ISO 9241-210: Human-centred design for interactive systems, and compliance with WCAG (minimum AA 2.1) accessibility standards.


Our approach

Building on 1Spatial’s initial UX research, we consulted stakeholders, subject matter experts, and MoD users to formulate a clear understanding of the target personas – their expectations, needs and pain points. We were fortunate to be provided access to visit users in their place of work, providing us with a deeper understanding of their task flow and how the application is used in context. 

To put the client’s technical requirements in approachable design terms, we workshopped and prioritised user stories with stakeholders and mapped the journey steps users take. A critical part of the project was to bring end users into the process in order to engender confidence in the proposed solutions, while also, importantly, testing them. This was achieved by testing the information architecture with a card-sorting exercise and testing the wireframes during usability interviews with users representing the target personas. 

After the interviews, we created a report and a series of recommendations, after consulting with 1Spatial we then actioned the recommendations and created a final set of wireframes. We then created two UI concepts to choose from which reflected 1Spatial’s brand. We also created a style guide housing key design principles and elements such as colour, typography etc.

Our target users take a ‘get things done’ approach to everything they do. We, therefore, prioritised clarity and legibility in the new UI design. This ensured that nothing extraneous was designed which distracted from the objectives and functionality of the application, and would have more longevity from a visual perspective.


Business impact / results

“Working closely together, Make it Clear helped us achieve a better understanding of the users and the context of use for the new system. A user-centred approach added meaning to a set of original vague requirements and provided the basis to be able to design, in detail, the application. This gave the customer substantial confidence that they were getting what they wanted and needed.”Terry Child, Senior Product Manager at 1Spatial.


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