Digital transformation for BOS

Digital transformation for BOS


Digital transformation of public registers for the Biodiversity Offset Scheme


Design brief

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) engaged Digital Garden to redesign and transform its Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS) public registers. The BOS is the NSW framework for offsetting unavoidable impacts on biodiversity from development with biodiversity gains at another location, an offset site. The existing registers were not fit for purpose and only available in Excel format.

Digital Garden started its research process with a project inception workshop to understand more about the registers and the scheme. This was an opportunity to learn from subject matter experts and map out the project's objectives.  Following this, 12 stakeholder interviews were run to capture and confirm the user requirements of the registers, as well as general feedback on what users wanted to see. A diverse range of requirements were captured, reflecting the complexity of the scheme and need to suit multiple user types..

The findings and requirements from initial research were put into a user journey map, which was used as a reference through the rest of the design. The journey map allowed us to match user requirements with the different stages of accessing, opening, reading and processing data in the registers.  

Some key outcomes from research were:

  • Expert-users still need Excel spreadsheets to manipulate the data. They believe this option should co-exist with the new platform
  • Information-seekers believe Excel is clunky. They would prefer to search for information in a web-based database
  • Generating unique reports based on credit requirements will improve the usefulness of the registers
  • Sorting and filtering functions need to be maintained and streamlined. These are a core functionality for all stakeholders
  • Users need access to more in-situ help and guidance. This will assist users understanding how the registers work so they can get the most out of them
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High-fidelity wireframing

High-fidelity wireframing

High fidelity wireframes were created for the registers, transforming them from an Excel document into a feature rich web tool. Digital Garden carefully structured the register to follow best-practice UX patterns and reflect common spreadsheet functionality that users were familiar with.

The main challenge for designing the registers was accommodating the large amount of data.  Some registers in the scheme have over 30 columns and hundreds of rows of data. The new registers were created in a scrollable, tabulated format that has multiple pages. A hide/arrange column functionality was created to allow users to reduce the amount of data and focus only on what they need. A robust filtering function is also available, allowing easy drill-down to relevant data.

Icon usage and UX microcopy were closely considered to ensure the different functions of the registers would be intuitive. For example, do users understand how to arrange fields in a list using a grab handle icon? These choices were to be validated in usability testing after the UI concept was designed.

UI concept and prototype

UI concept and prototype

A UI concept was created based directly on the wireframes, giving the new registers their look and feel. The design was based on DPE’s branding and UI elements from the NSW Government design system. A simple, restrained design was chosen to not interfere with the data or key functions. 

Digital Garden created an interactive prototype of the UI concept that allowed key functions to be clickable.


Usability testing

Usability testing

Eight usability tests were conducted with different stakeholder groups. Four of these sessions were conducted with participants interviewed in the research phase, giving them the opportunity to see how their feedback was taken on. 

The feedback from testing was very positive, with participants able to complete the majority of tasks with ease. A small number of problem areas were identified and adjusted after the sessions took place.  

Some of the impressions from participants included:

“This is built on those industry standards that have evolved over time and it’s very easy to navigate” - Dave

“I think I’d be able to click into this and just figure it out in a minute or two, so I think it’s quite easy” - Cassie

“I think it looks good…I think it’s great, it’s going to be much more easy to use” - Nathan

Functional specification

Functional specification

A functional specification was created that details the interactions and capabilities of the new register design. Digital Garden ensured the document was comprehensive and had everything developers and stakeholders would need to build and test the design.

Design outcomes

Design outcomes

Some of the key outcomes from wireframing and UI design included:

  • A transformed web-based register template presented in tabulated, scrollable format
  • The ability to hide and arrange fields, responding to user feedback about the way they find and process data
  • An easy keyword search that matches any entry in the register
  • The ability to order columns in ascending or descending order
  • A multi-tier filter system that allows users to drill down to content efficiently
  • Per-column tooltips and a help section to assist new users understand the register and find credits
  • The ability to export the register to CSV giving power users the ability to still manipulate data in a spreadsheet
  • A report builder allowing users to select up to 10 fields based on their choice of dataset and export as a PDF





The result is a transformed web-based register template presented in a tabulated, scrollable format. Digital Garden has designed an intuitive tool that responds to the two user types identified in our research.

Various features have been added that create value for the registers and will help to support the scheme.