Designing For Farmers — My Major Project: 6
Moving into some concept development
In my last post I began generating concepts around the area of a knowledge-sharing or knowledge-based social network for farmers. Since then, I’ve done a few bits.
Card sorting and paper prototyping
I re-contacted one of my initial interviewees, John, and popped round to his house to do some card sorting and paper prototyping. When I arrived, I discovered that he was minding his nephew, Pádraig, at the time, so while he did what I asked, I got to mind Pádraig.
We started off with some card sorting, similar to the ones I mentioned in my last post. Interestingly enough, the final outcome was completely different to my previous participants.
John works on a big dairy farm, one which has a plethora of paddocks (fields) that need to be fertilised. He helped me understand the intricacies of closing periods and stated that that’d be his most important feature/card. I thought that closing periods were fixed dates and they are, but farmers are only allowed spread a certain amount of fertiliser or slurry during different parts of the year. They have to plan out when they’re going to fertilise their various paddocks for weeks, or even months, in advance. Clearly, a well-justified most important card was selected by John.
Similar to previous participants, John ranked checking the weather very highly, followed by the ability to make notes or to-do lists so as to better plan out his day or week. He also mentioned that notes or reminders could also link back in with closing periods in some way. He felt that message-able groups was very important and said the following:
“You should never ignore advice you get from anyone. Learning new ways of doing things from people can and will help your farm.”
He said that looking for help on the farm, be it contractors or employees would be very seasonal (eg. during calving season) but that if people used it right it could be very beneficial. He felt that farm-related events was important but that people moreso hear about them through word of mouth. He grouped buying and selling together and stated that selling of cattle and other animals often happens through the likes of DoneDeal. Factory prices wasn’t important to him as they’re cows very rarely go to slaughter. He placed news second last stating that he simply just doesn’t read the news and the forum last saying that there’s no need for a big forum if farmers are in their smaller message-able groups.
From there, I asked John to do some various tasks through some lo-fi paper prototypes I had made. Straight away, John stated that icons on the ‘Dashboard’ would need to be accompanied with text:
“Farmers, me included, would just get confused trying to figure out what some of those icons are. I like them but just have a title with them too.”
He noted that information in ‘Weather’ would need to be clear and visible and easy to figure out how the upcoming week is looking. He requested an alarm or reminder option in ‘Notes’ and stated that the refine feature across the board needed to be clear and easy to use. He’s a regular user of WhatsApp and was quite happy with the ‘Conversations’ flow. In sketching out the various potential features of the app, I wanted to create flows that were functional, familiar and favourable.
During the week, I began mid-fi prototyping some of the features and flows of the app. Because John was so engaged and into the idea, I decided to show him some screens, which he seemed to approve of quite a lot.
Over the next week, I’m hoping to develop the mid-fi screens more. I’ll definitely be coming back to John when I have more finished screens developed to get his feedback.
The big flow
Having re-engaged with a few of my original interviewees to gain their insight and opinion on the concept in its current state, I wanted to visualise the full flow of the app as best possible. In order to do that, I got some big foam boards and stuck down my lo-fi paper prototypes. I actually found this to be hugely beneficial. It helped me visualise the various functionalities of the app and (roughly) how they’d look and work.
In speccing out the mid-fi prototype, I’ll more than likely notice different features and requirements but as much as I’ve given out about paper prototyping in the past, I’ve found it to be very beneficial in this project. It’s quick and cheap and can help you visualise stuff very quickly.
Over the next week, I’m hoping to flesh out the mid-fi prototype quite a bit and begin dabbling in some hi-fi too. I also envision this as being a webapp also so I’ll need to get cracking on that. I’ve been saying it for a while but I really am going to get some journey maps and scenarios built to accompany the personas I made and mark my words, they’ll be in my next post. I mentioned it in my last post that Colin from Teagasc said he’d try get me in with a discussion group. I’ve reached out to him twice since and have heard nothing back. It’s doesn’t look like I’m going to get to sneak into one but I’ll keep trying. Through all this as well, I’m going to continue to try and card sort, paper prototype and test with end-users.