© 2018 by Sarah Young

Smart Yields is an agricultural tech company based in Hawaii. I was tasked with helping to design the dashboard that would display the data collected from the sensors that were deployed on the farms. My primary role on the project was to serve as the sole UX designer on the team; however, I collaborated with another designer/developer to establish the UI design. 

Project Overview

For this project, the established research goals were as follows:

  • Determine the challenges that farmers face.

  • Determine the main goals that farmers have.

  • Figure out which features farmers would find the most beneficial.

  • Establish the best way to communicate with farmers through the app.

  • Discuss ways challenges can be mitigated.

Research

01.

RESEARCH METHOD #1: Survey

I wrote a survey to gather quantitative data about farmers' goals and the challenges they face. The insights gathered from the survey are listed below: 

 

 

  • Dealing with changes in the weather.

  • Maintaining soil health.

  • Adjusting to new regulations.

  • Record-keeping

  • Crop protection.

 

 

  • Hope to increase profits/yields.

  • Hope to manage their farm more efficiently.

  • Hope to improve the quality of their crops.

  • Ability to view weather data.

  • Ability to view data about rainfall.

  • Ability to view data about nutrient levels.

  • Ability to view yield data.

  • Ability to view financial breakdown.

  • Ability to view historical data to identify trends.

 

 

Challenges
Goals
Useful Features
RESEARCH METHOD #2: Ethnographic Interviews

In order to gather qualitative data, I visited farmers on their farms and spoke with them about their processes. I also spoke to agriculture teachers about their methods and curriculum. Below are the insights from those visits. 

 

  • Farmers want a way to compare different "recipes" because they are always trying to perfect it. Farmers tend to run experiments.

  • Seeing change over time is important.

  • Being able to schedule and plan for crops to be ready at specific times would be helpful.

  • Being able to make note of things when out in the fields would be beneficial.

  • Every farmer has a smartphone.

 

 

02.

Synthesis

After compiling all of the information gathered during the research phase, user personas and design principles were established.   

03.

Wireframes

The Smart Yields dashboard will be comprised of widgets of the farmers choosing. The wireframes shown below were made using Sketch. Experimentation is broken into two different functionalities: goals and comparisons. Each widget is displayed as a tile which represents a piece of data making the dashboard glanceable. Users can also dig into the data to get more information if they want to investigate. Maps or visuals (whichever is more appropriate) is presented when each tile is “expanded.” This also makes the dashboard customizable for different types of farmers. Below is an iteration of the mobile landing page. 

FARM STATUS

The user sees a summary of their farm's health upon navigating to the app. 

EXPERIMENT/COMPARISON

Because farmers compare different growing methods, Smart Yields gives them a way to document these experiments. The language for this was changed to Comparisons to simplify the language. 

BIOME STATUS

The area of the farm is broken into Biomes. This allows the user to see the status of those particular areas, or biomes. This also allows the farmer to get more granular data. 

MENU

Here, the user can add notes, start an experiment (comparison), and set alerts.  

Style Elements

  • Dark Interface: While the interface often comes down to personal preference, dark backgrounds are great for apps and websites that display a lot of charts and images. In fact, many financial monitoring apps use dark backgrounds because they really help the pull the user’s attention toward the data.

  • Contrast: From a usability standpoint, it was important to use contrast to highlight the important information that the user would typically be logging on to see. Many of the titles or labels are gray creating less contrast. That is because the user will get a feel for the app and rarely need to consult that information after the first few logins.

  • Color: Color is used to delineate different sections of information. The charts and visuals are in color in order to make them stand out against the dark background.

 

 

04.

Visual Design