Australian Border Security mobile application design

Transforming biosecurity checks – the UX design journey to build a biosecurity mobile application
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
Government, biosecurity, agriculture, horticulture, fishing
In 2020, biosecurity checks at Australian airports were bogged down by paper-based processes, causing delays, inconsistencies, and frustration for both officers and travellers. DAFF sought a solution: a user-friendly mobile app to modernise biosecurity, improve efficiency, and empower officers.
I joined an ambitious project to build this app. It needed to capture real-time data, provide guidance on non-compliance, and offer decision support tools, all within a user-friendly interface.
My role
From concept design to visual identity, I played a key role in shaping the app's user experience. This included research, information architecture, wireframing, and visual design, ensuring the app was intuitive, efficient, and empowering for biosecurity officers.
The app transformed biosecurity checks, increasing officer efficiency by 20% (checks per hour) and significantly reducing errors. Biosecurity officers reported reduced workload and frustration, while travellers enjoyed faster processing times and a smoother experience. This project showcased the power of user-centric design in achieving both operational efficiency and positive user experiences.
In adherence to my non-disclosure agreement, I have excluded and obscured confidential information in this case study. The contents of this case study are solely my own and may not necessarily represent the opinions of the client.

Problem identification

Understanding the landscape

To lay the groundwork for a user-centric experience, we embarked on a comprehensive research program. This involved:
Co-design sessions:
"Paper cuts and paper trails: that's our daily battle. Tracking down forms, deciphering scribbles, chasing approvals – biosecurity shouldn't feel like solving a riddle." – Jill, Marshal
"Tech envy at the airport? You bet. Watching airlines and passengers breeze through digital check-ins while we're swamped with forms is like watching the future pass us by. Give us the tools to match the threat, not another clipboard." – Abby, Technical specialist
Review of existing UX assets:
Integration of user research findings:
A wall covered with journey maps and post-it-notes.
Experience diagramming to understand the user journeys

User research

Understanding Diverse User Needs

To ensure the mobile app truly resonated with biosecurity officers, we employed a multi-pronged approach:
Empathy mapping – unveiling deep user insights:
"I have to constantly be aware of my surroundings and assess potential risks. It's a high-pressure job, but I take pride in keeping Australia's borders safe from harmful pests and diseases." – Alex, Rover
Intuitive UI components:
Optimised workflows:
An overview of the 6 user types covered by the empathy maps.Empathy map for Marshals.Empathy map for Rover K9 Handler.Empathy map for Quarantine Officers.
Aggregated empathy maps representing key users

Design and iteration

Prototyping & refinement

To refine our ideas and ensure the app truly resonated with users, we adopted an iterative design approach.
Rapid prototyping with whiteboards and wireframes:
Polished handoffs for seamless development:
Gathering and incorporating feedback:
Baggage questions UI screen.A UI prototype mockup screen.A UI prototype mockup screen.A UI prototype mockup screen.A UI prototype mockup screen.
High-fidelity interactive prototypes were used for usability testing

Evaluation and results

Validation & outcomes

To solidify the app's functionality and enhance the user experience, we focused on three key areas. These efforts resulted in several positive outcomes:
Faster access to information:
Reduced errors and frustrations:
Streamlined processes and automation:
Post review workshop, with team crowded around a series of post-it-notes and print outs on a wall.
Post implementation review workshop


Learning & insights

Learnings and Insights from the Australian Border Security Mobile App Case Study:
Witnessing the Power of User-Centric Design:
Streamlining Workflows for Efficiency:
Automation: Saving Time and Reducing Errors:
Collaboration and Iteration: The Keys to Success:
User Experience Matters for Everyone:


Transforming Biosecurity Checks with User-Centric Design

This project transformed biosecurity checks at Australian airports by prioritizing user needs through extensive research, empathy mapping, and iterative design. The resulting mobile app empowered biosecurity officers with intuitive UI, streamlined workflows, and automated tasks, leading to a 20% increase in checks per hour and reduced frustration. Importantly, this user-centric approach also benefits travellers with faster processing times and a smoother experience. This case study underscores the transformative power of user-centric design in enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and satisfaction for all stakeholders.