Our work

Ensuring veterans receive the right support after serving New Zealand

Veterans’ Affairs

Project background

Veterans' Affairs is an operational unit within the New Zealand Defence Force. They work to support those with qualifying service in New Zealand's armed forces, and their families, to be well at home, at work, and in their communities.

Veterans' Affairs recognised that their former website wasn't delivering all that it could for veterans. They needed a new website to help them engage with veterans and empower them to find the information they were looking for to be supported on their return home from service.

They turned to Silverstripe to help refresh their online presence and automate their business procedures, ensuring veterans receive the correct support after serving New Zealand. They were looking strategically to the future and anticipating an increasing demand from their clients for a digital-first experience that they felt Silverstripe could provide.

The initial goals of the new website were to refresh their content to make it clear, concise, and easier to find, and Increase engagement with veterans on their website.

Project scope

Veterans' Affairs had already undertaken user research, started an approach to restructuring the Information Architecture (IA), and identified areas for improvement. Silverstripe then worked with Veterans’ Affairs to produce a brand new set of responsive website designs taking into account the new IA.

Our Creative Director, James Ford, was integral to the UX for the tool and copywriting of these forms alongside the client. Silverstripe ran a full discovery and design phase of work for VA, comprising of workshops, card sorting, wireframing, prototyping and a full suite of visual designs.

Eligibility checker

One of the main features of the new website is the ‘Check your eligibility’ tool. This tool allows website visitors to easily get a sense of whether they may be eligible for support from Veterans’ Affairs based on a range of dynamic questions. It’s anticipated that the tool will reduce the call centre’s workload by allowing visitors to find out if they are potentially eligible themselves.

For the eligibility checker, Silverstripe initially designed and built a proof of concept (POC) that was privately beta-tested with NZ veterans, young and old, and their family members. From the feedback received, we then conducted some face-to-face interviews and user testing at our main offices.

The knowledge gained from these sessions allowed us to quickly produce some wireframed prototypes that we again tested with real veterans at our offices. We were then able to easily iterate and build on the POC to provide a well-tested and polished product for Veterans’ Affairs.

Following the discovery and rapid prototyping, the Silverstripe team worked closely with Veterans' Affairs to develop the new website on CWP over four one week sprints.

Key outcomes

With Silverstripe's assistance, visitors to the Veterans’ Affairs site are now benefiting from the new features that have been put in place. We were able to build them a custom eligibility tool that helps veterans assess their entitlements and post-service support. To reduce call volumes, and enable people to discover the support available any time of day, we implemented an interactive form/decision tree.

The Veterans' Affairs site now has:

  • a brand new responsive theme
  • a comprehensive search powered by Solr to surface page content, cemetery details, and healthcare professionals
  • an interactive tool for visitors to check their eligibility for potential support from Veterans' Affairs

Visitors can navigate across the site across a range of devices, including mobile and tablet, giving them ease of accessibility to the information they’re looking for. Now, using the eligibility checker, current and former members of New Zealand's armed forces can find out if if they might be eligible for support from Veterans’ Affairs

We like Silverstripe's approach. It was honest and they genuinely wanted to understand what we were trying to achieve, as opposed to just selling us a product.


In 2019, Silverstripe was awarded the Award of Excellence to Industry for our services to New Zealand Defence Force. Through our partnership with Veterans’ Affairs, we were able to re-design and modernise the NZDF’s engagement with the Veterans’ community, delivering a new, user-friendly website, including an eligibility tool that achieved a 94% satisfaction rating from users.

Services provided

  • Workshops
  • Discovery
  • Wireframing
  • UX & design
  • Branding
  • Front and back end web development
  • Dedicated testing resource
  • Ongoing UX & UI discussions
  • Project Management
  • Solution Architect consultation
  • Programme Management
  • Account Management
  • Managed cloud hosting
  • 24/7 New Zealand-based support

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