West Midlands Fire Service

Fire Service logo on fire engine
West Midlands Fire Service
Front-end design

Activity Assistant is West Midlands Fire Service's bespoke, in-house case management system for activity management, information collection and reporting.

Without in-house UX expertise, WMFS came to IE Digital to add a modern and intuitive, responsive user interface.

The system is used by hundreds of operational personnel at WMFS – the second largest fire and rescue service in the country – and is offered as a managed service to several other regional fire services.

WMF analysis
WMF car
Supporting fire safety

Alongside putting out fires, West Midlands Fire Service delivers extensive educational services and fire prevention activities to keep homes and businesses safe. The service's core Activity Assistant system supports the programme of fire safety assessments.

When IE Digital arrived, the system was highly functional but WMFS recognised that the user experience was poor. We began by immersing ourselves in the organisation to understand the purpose of each aspect of the system. Since it's both a business-critical application for the fire service, and offered commercially to others, return on investment was of paramount importance.

Far from being a vanity project, this was about directing users to complete the most important tasks – prioritising safety, improving data accuracy and driving efficiency. IE Digital’s UX consultants spoke to stakeholders and system users to understand the constraints and limitations of the existing Activity Assistant product. The user interface was non-intuitive, hard to navigate, and didn’t work well on mobile devices; a crucial factor for staff in the field.

This was a highly Agile project, following the same key steps for each phase. In later phases of the project, we treated each of five linked applications separately with its own discrete UX exercise, allowing us to confirm, challenge and validate the importance of each task.

WMF user journey
WMF wireframes
IE Digital took a business-critical but clunky system and added a modern and intuitive, responsive user interface. IE Digital’s expert digital consultants, front-end developers and UX designers supported the in-house development team and created a slick, beautiful system that makes data entry faster for our users, and that we are proud to offer to other fire services.
Kash Singh, Systems Development Manager
The IE Digital team were as passionate about getting the right solution as we were. They worked hard to deliver against high expectations – and definitely succeeded in doing so.
WMF website on ipad
Improving the user journey

IE Digital’s consultants wireframed the new application structure to improve the user journey and bring the most important features to the fore.

IE Digital’s consultants wireframed the new application structure to improve the user journey and bring the most important features to the fore.

Where tasks and menu items had previously been hidden or hard to find, we recommended a far more intuitive user interface that contextualised the content and grouped associated actions together.

The design uses an innovative ‘record card’ design for each separate case, which can be ‘flipped’ to reveal additional functionality and related menu items on the reverse. A traffic light system signals the priority of each task.

WMF firefighters
Slick user interface styling

With the new wireframes agreed by WMFS, the project was passed to IE Digital's UI design team to storyboard a fresher, more modern and uncluttered look for the system.

Using an open technology stack, our developers built the front end, bringing the storyboards to life with slick styling and smooth animations. The new front end is measurably easier to navigate and adapts well to different size screens, making mobile quicker, easier and more accurate.

Once the core application had been given a makeover, IE Digital redesigned the other five apps in the suite to give each of them the same high quality user experience and a look and feel consistent with the core product, to ensure a seamless experience when navigating from one to another.

  • Melio Dashboard – to support elearning and manage staff CPD; allowing users to set targets, monitor training progress and record experience attainment
  • Incident Recording System – available to other services as SaaS on G-Cloud 7
  • Scheduler – to manage staff diaries and appointments
  • Property viewer – incorporating demographic data and visit history
  • Contact centre – for arranging visits, booking and managing appointments for prevention work.

We also delivered a suite of email templates and a reporting dashboard.

Working with the in-house team

IE Digital's front-end developers acted as an extension of the in-house systems development team, supporting them to adapt the back-end system to fit the recommended UX.

490 operational personnel gave the improved design an unprecedented “excellent” rating for ease-of-use
Currently in use by five UK fire and rescue services
6 additional partner apps redesigned to match the user experience and accessibility of the main app