VSSL Agency

A Data Access Portal that Both Client and Customer Would Love

ASTERRA Rebuild the Data Portal

VSSL Agency

Imagining A Portal
Through the Users' Eyes


Our client ASTERRA uses satellite-based radar, artificial intelligence, and a series of patented algorithms to locate subsurface soil moisture from space. If it sounds unglamorous, it isn’t. It’s a game-changing achievement, starting with water utilities. For the first time ever, a water provider could look across hundreds of square miles of its entire underground system and know where it was leaking expensively processed water without breaking ground. At the completion of a project, customers could access their results through a web-based portal.

The portal itself was very basic, and ASTERRA was quickly outgrowing it. Just as fast as the first application for water utilities began to make an impact, they announced new applications for additional industries, such as assessing roads and rail lines for failure potential or monitoring water retention dams and levees, and industrial dams, for seepage prior to collapse. And its business model was changing from project-based to a SaaS (software as a service) subscription model, where data delivery would be ongoing.

The basic portal simply wasn’t capable. It had to be rethought from the ground up.


A diverse collection of stakeholders would have to be satisfied by the new version. Customers, absolutely. The needs of partners, investors, and various internal stakeholders with their own specific requirements for the front and back end all had to be served by the portal. The portal would also be the delivery point for the new subscription business model. And none of the pain points from the previous version could be carried into the new.

VSSL conducted some of the most extensive user research and user experience testing we had ever done to make sure the diverse needs of ASTERRA’s customers were spoken for. We conducted interviews with a range of customer personas, so functional recommendations were based on input from users. We gathered clear and direct input from other stakeholders across the project to create a tool that was tailor-made for their requirements as well.

Many decisions were driven by foundational VSSL beliefs. Among them:

  • Don’t make users hunt for what they came to find
  • Don’t put pointless extra steps in their way
  • Make it flexible to accommodate different user groups and unique needs within each group
  • In addition to looking like the brand, it has to demonstrate the brand
Services UI/UX, Product Design

Website asterra.io

VSSL Agency

The Results

ASTERRA’s EO Discover is Here

The core of the ASTERRA brand is advanced Earth Observation technology in service to the world, data that provides “The Intelligence to Act” to protect resources, property, and lives. In look, feel, and function, the new portal would live up to the brand with advanced technology in service to their customers and internal users with a name that invites users to observe, explore, and discover:

EO Discover

Front-end EO Discover users will find a vastly more intuitive and easy-to-navigate setup and dashboard that they can move through without help from ASTERRA. It’s also much more self-service. For example, users can now customize the benchmarks they use to evaluate results. We made essential data points easy to locate and work with, information such as “Total Leaks Found,” “Water Saved,” “Greenhouse Gas Reductions,” and “Energy Cost Savings.” (These, by the way, are just a sample of ASTERRA’s worldwide impact.) Writing the language of the portal in plain, clear English was also a priority for users, who needed technical information but were not technical professionals.

For back-end functions of EO Discover, we were able to counsel ASTERRA on the requirements of a subscription-based, repeat-business model so they would have the functions and data needed for a smooth transition. The new portal also gives the sales team a platform for introducing and selling new services and capabilities, cross-selling, communicating with customers, reducing turnaround times, and increasing conversions.

ASTERRA’s technology is continually advancing. The EO Discover portal has the flexibility to accommodate new industries, data sets, and user requirements to match ASTERRA’s growing impact on the world.