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USAF Portal

The United States Air Force is a long time client of Isobar. At the time of this project celebrating a ten year anniversary. What better way to celebrate that relationship than to redesign one of the first projects Isobar & USAF did together. Created over ten years ago, the Air Force Portal is the single site for Airmen to securely receive communications, access information, and connect and collaborate with other Airmen.

Due to the sensitive nature of the material most content has been cleansed, so pardon the Lorem Ipsum please. You can view more project details on the Isobar site.Isobar site

Project Overview

My role
Sr Visual Design, Illustration & light UX
United States Air Force pesonnel
Project Manager, USAF Sr Leadership

Support Airmen with easier, more secure access to information

We were tasked with improving the User Experience on low-bandwidth network connections, multi-device use & a fresh look & feel plus training.

My role

I was the main visual designer on the project along side my CD, working from concept through production to help craft an experience that felt on brand for the Air Force, but delivered something to its 750K users that felt new & more modern than the existing decade old portal.

The UX wireframes & Information Architecture was happening in parallel with the visual exploration. However, the visual design exploration challenged some of the wireframes from time to time (in a healthy way of course).

In addition to the Portal redesign I also worked with a motion designer to storyboard & illustrate on-boarding video's to help the users to become oriented to the new look & interaction of the portal.


• The old system had become cluttered, was difficult to navigate and didn’t support mobile access. Today’s Airmen were unable to do their job efficiently.
• We can't change old content. With over a decades worth of content being created by its 750K users the new portal & design had to seamlessly convert all that content to the new style.
• Old McDonald had a Link Farm! Seriously, finding a way to handle the list of links in an elegant way was a challenge.
• Scale of content.
• Low connectivity & access in remote locations.
• Accessibility & affordance


When looking at a lot of the content I realized that most of the content was text. Once I realized this it put greater emphasis on the typography. This also helped when thinking about how to convert the old content to the new styles.

To address the bandwidth issues we prioritized text over any imagery, giving the Airmen the content they need now & supplemental content later.

Mobile first. We couldn't know exactly what device an Airman would be using to access the portal or from where, so I started off trying to design for my worst case scenario, mobile devices in the middle of nowhere.

The final consideration of the portal was accessibility & affordance. Can an Airman easily view the content & interact in the field, wearing gloves or with other equipment?

Portal Redesign Screens

Overview of the redesign on all devices showing how the Portal would scale. In total the Portal had six main sections & needed to allow for Airmen to create & author new content, social interactions (ie; Facebook) securely. Below are a few key screens.

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Tables & filters

The tables were redesigned to be more readable. We also updated the pagination to disable any sections that had no data.

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Personal spaces

Personal spaces are where Airmen can socialize with other Airmen or participate in special interest groups.

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Calendar portlet

Keeping track of where you need to be when using the Portal.

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Portal Workspaces

The Portal's Workspaces took on a slightly different look to indicate that the user was in a different space. This space was utilitarian & stripped back to leave the user with the simplest & clutter free space we could provide to do their work.

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Closing thoughts

This was a very significant project in my career, & for the first time I had to consider such significant design restrictions. The AF Portal was proof to me that when you start a design with accessibility in mind you can produce something that is truly interesting, engaging & something that people want to use.

Full Project Details