BEX Components AG is a producer of tax software based in Aalen, Germany. Among many other applications that are required when exporting goods abroad, such as ATALS export, sanction list checks, preference calculations, EXPERIUM is the software for export control.
Why do UX Design for Export Control?
Export control is a sensitive issue that affects all companies that ship goods, especially abroad. Both the recipient and the regulations regarding the individual goods must be checked carefully. There are countries that are subject to embargoes, persons involved in terrorist activities or so-called dual-use goods that can be used for both civil and military purposes. Such cases must be identified reliably by those responsible, otherwise there my occur problems with the export of goods. The daily tasks of those responsible include checking the end use purpose and final destination of the goods to be shipped. This process is mapped with the help of the EXPERIUM software and supports the export control officers in their daily business.
Good user experience often remains invisible – unless it is missing!
What the product developers at BEX wanted to achieve: To provide users with the best possible product to support them in their daily work. Hence, the company decided to invest in UX Design and optimize the product to meet the needs of the users. The software should fulfill its purpose as efficiently as possible and at the same time be easy, clear and fun to operate with, offer lean processes. We are proud to having been selected by BEX for this project as the UX Partner. Our pragmatic and knowledge-based approach convinced the stakeholders and was the cornerstone of a partnership that has already lasted more than a year.
Our team examined the UX of the EXPERIUM software in order to identify so-called "pain points", i.e. points of friction and disturbance for the user, which, for example, produce confusion, frustration or unnecessary loss of time.
Phase 1 - Expert Interview and UX Research
The first phase consisted of a UX Design Kick-off Workshop with the experts from BEX. Often it is sufficient to consider just basic UI principles in order to improve the user interface. Principles that were especially helpful for EXPERIUM are contrast, harmony, repetition and arrangement. For example, different categories of information must have different icons(contrast), but the same categories, e.g. categories of a hierarchy level must be the same (repetition). This leads to consistency and intuitive operation. Our approach is practical: The experts applied the principles immediately with the support of our trained UX designers. The goal was to identify weaknesses of the current user interface and to define solution concepts. Already in this phase, fundamental problems could be identified and eliminated. And all this happened with the help of just one interactive expert interview with our designers. In order to avoid unnecessary implementation effort, the solutions developed were converted into screens and checked for their feasibility before the actual implementation on a technical level began.
Hours of UX research can save weeks of coding
Phase 2 - User Feedback is Essential
In the second phase the great outcomes were iterated. Our designers examined the software for further weaknesses and carried out a user test with an export control officer. During this test, the user is given several tasks to complete using the software and expresses his or her thoughts, while doing, aloud. A user test allows our designers to follow the interaction between the user and the product live and record all reactions, both positive and negative. By applying this, the further improvement of the software is not based on assumptions, but on concrete empirical data that has been evaluated under common UX aspects.
How our UX designers document the user test
Why we love challenges
For our designers it was a challenge to get into the data-driven world of export control full of lists and data. With a basic understanding of the subject, UX-driven approaches can be applied. Our goal was to find an intermediate path between simple operation and a professional mode that also matches experienced users in order to increase productivity. In the case of the EXPERIUM software, we also wanted to make the user aware of his responsibility. Under no circumstances should the user be tempted by the design of the interface to make reckless decisions. The success of the project is proof for us that UX principles are universally applicable and that user feedback is extremely important for making improvements. In combination with good communication, nothing stands in the way of a UX project's success.
A strategic partnership - Current State & Future Plans
A strategic partnership - Where we still want to go Our partnership with BEX, which has now lasted over a year, has developed into a project that is growing steadily. The aim of the project is to provide the best usable and intuitive export control software on the market. The long-term cooperation confirms that the UX of a product is one of the most important features for a purchase decision and that this trend will continue to grow. Not only does our customer BEX rely on our UX design methods, but the company is now thinking long-term towards web technologies, which we believe are a clear prerequisite for providing good UX. An investment in UX is a long-term strategic decision for which we are the right partner. We are glad that we can continue bringing our UX perspective and our strong technological component to this project.
Our focus in the project
Establishment of UX and UI design principles as best practice at BEX
A user-centred approach and technical feasibility at the same time
Regular reviews of the current development status with regard to UX