Recreating Lloyd’s List Intelligence

for Informa PLC info.lloydslistintelligence.com

  • 180,000+ ships, 200,000 companies, 8000+ ports
  • 30,000 geo-spatial queries a second
  • SPA built on ReactJS, WebAPI, ElasticSearch and AWS

Lloyd’s List Intelligence is the leading platform for maritime intelligence, providing a complete information service to support the global shipping industry. The business objective of our engagement was to redevelop the platform to deliver better customer experience on a lower cost, scalable and more reliable technology stack.

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Lloyd’s List Intelligence is the leading platform for maritime intelligence, providing a complete information service to support the global shipping industry.

The business objective of our engagement was to redevelop the platform to deliver better customer experience on a lower cost, scalable and more reliable technology stack.

With a specific focus on building new mapping functions and alerting, we undertook a customer led approach to designing and building the platform using state of the art technology.

The Programme

Lloyd’s List Intelligence (LLI) caters to the maritime, insurance, finance and legal industries with an extensive system of onshore and satellite intelligence gathering to create a powerful search platform.

It brings together a unique network of specialist sources providing business-critical maritime data such as: AIS (vessel) geo-location data, vessel ownership data and global analysis .
Compounded by a lack of stability and scalability, the product suffered from a featureset that was bloated and difficult to navigate with an outdated look and feel.

 

Proof of Concept

An Informa wide strategic review by a Big 4 consultancy recommended that the new platform for LLI start with the development of technical proof of concepts.

Makemedia were engaged to deliver proof of concepts that validated and proposed technologies and, as a by-product, set down an architecture that could be taken forward to production.
The proof of concept delivered a thin vertical slice of the application encompassing a ReactJS SPA, Node.js API and an ElasticSearch index.

Following the technical proof of concept that tested the performance of processing 10 million AIS messages a day, we were engaged to undertake a customer focused, UX-led redesign and build.

Meeting stakeholders and customers

We began by meeting with stakeholders to understand the current product and their vision for the new offering. Subject matter experts introduced us to the maritime industry through domain workshops and we absorbed as much as we could in advance of meeting users in order to ask intelligent questions and seek further insight.

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We arranged contextual inquiries with customers in different industries and spent time observing them using the existing product and asking questions. From this we were able to build up a good idea of what worked and what didn’t with the current product. Most issues uncovered related to usability such as presenting information on separate pages when it needed to be compared. We also uncovered the need for greater control over alerts and the need to receive them immediately when a vessel reaches a certain location. In response to this we created the polygon alerts feature, where users can draw an area on the map and be alerted when a vessel enters or leaves it.

We quickly got sketching and went straight from paper to HTML prototype. Throughout the project we would return to users to test our latest designs with the prototype and shortly after with the dev site. We were able to build relationships and make them feel involved in the development of the new product to elicit honest feedback.

As we established design patterns we were able to quickly reuse them to communicate ideas for new features and create reusable components from them in development. This reduces development time and keeps the site consistent.

Technical Transformation

Technically, the new platform was built on an entirely new stack hosted in AWS to provide co-location, scalability and resilience. At a high level the following technologies were employed:

  • ReactJS & Redux – deliver highly reactive UI
  • WebAPI – business logic layer & interconnect between UI & data
  • Google Maps – to display all UI mapping
  • Elasticsearch – data index providing extremely fast searching and geo-spatial query functions
  • Amazon Web Services – provides co-located, scalable and resilient hosting infrastructure
  • Terraform – provides scripted creation of hosting infrastructure
  • Aurora – provides long term and structured data storage
  • RabbitMQ – message bus technology to queue real time data ingestion
  • Kibana – dashboard display of infrastructure health and real time data processing
  • Authorisation – Hybrid Identity Server implementation

One of the key technical decisions following the proof of concept was to replace Node.js with .Net WebAPI. The decision to change this was based on the skillset of the existing internal team and efficiency of the technology to develop and maintain.

Launch and delivery

We advised on an approach to launch which would mitigate risk and allow us to react quickly to customer feedback. A small number of beta testers were recruited, including those that had been vocal in the past or who had been involved in earlier stages of the project to continue the relationship.

Beta testers were still given access to the old site to compare data and use the features that were descoped, either because they had too low usage to warrant redesign or because they were not in-line with the new product strategy.

We are currently running the beta programme with 50 entrusted customers and collecting feedback which is being put into a backlog and prioritised for development ahead of a wider launch early next year.


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