A platform that constantly connects growers to their plants
Phytech is a leading Precision Ag analytics company, focused on helping farmers to optimize yields by transforming real-time plant data into actionable, yield-enhancing recommendations. Phytechs' proprietary PlantBeatTM platform combines continuous plant monitoring hardware, spatial imaging, hyper-local climate information, agronomic modeling, data analysis and web and mobile software applications that help farmers improve profitability by making better informed in-season operating decisions.
Ag - Tech
Research and Definitions
We started the project by defining the issues that were problematic with the current system, based on user feedback and the company agronomists insight into data that is missing or misrepresented. We backed up and corroborated the findings using Personas (based on interviews with current users) and competitors research, all in order to define a clear hypotheses of the project's goals and success indicators.
Personas are more than an Average Joe, they are a common language
When working through dilemmas and deliberations with the client on different usability issues the personas we created early on in the process proved to be a great common language. Whenever we had a doubt we would think what a specific persona would do in that situation and that always made things bright and clear.
Use Cases and User Journeys
While designing the interface we took under consideration different ways farmers use the app and different excerpts they wish to take away. This is why we created both a map view, for quick assessment of the crop current situation, alongside a list view that allows both in-depth research and future planning.
Keeping it Simple
Farmers live in constant uncertainty regarding how to optimize their yield. They are constantly bombarded with data regarding their crop, but it is mostly difficult to draw insights and actionable items from this information.
The leading principle in our design process was simplifying the interface so that it contains only necessary information which is organized in a way that will allow the farmer to draw conclusion at a glance. One of the manifestation of this principle was the decision to divide the data into two steps. At first the user gets a summary of the plant status, and if he wants, he can drill down and see a graph that is more explanatory and detailed.
If you’re considering toggling it - toss it!
During our process we relied on the assumption that if there is data that isn’t crucial and necessary, it shouldn’t be included in the product at all. Usually this was identified when someone suggested allowing the user to toggle the visibility of this data. We then brainstormed to see if omitting this info will affect the user and his understanding of his crop’s situation and if it didn’t - off with it’s head!
Even after coming up with a simplified interface and understanding what should be included in each component, we continued iterating in order to make sure each component is as simple as could be while still clearly communicating the information to the user. These iterations led us eventually to combine two separate views (the map and plot list) into one screen allowing the user to alternate between the two more easily and seamlessly.
For us, visual design is not the final step of the process and it is not separate from the user experience design. We use visual elements like color, type, metaphors and icons during the sketching process to solve different usability issues. In this case, we used a palette of red, yellow and green colors throughout the interface to reflect the plant status at all times.
This correlated with the main elements that lead us through the entire process, Keeping the interface clean and simple. With plenty of white space that facilitates the data analysis.
This process allows us to stew longer with the visual language of the product and fine tune it during the entire process so that at the end the appearance of the interface is homogeneous.
Visual design is more than a pretty face
The visual design of the interface is not meant to just make it look good (and after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder). We use different visual elements as tools to improve usability by developing smart visual logic. We strive to find a reason that explains why we came to each design decision and it’s never “because it looks good”.
Phytech’s users are not office workers, they are out in the field all day and they need their plant status available to them when they are on the go. For this reason we created a complimentary mobile app that distilled the must-have information so the farmer can get continuous information about his crop. This app offers data about the situation here and now, if he wants to dig into the causes and what led up to this state, he can do that using the web application. This was meant to assure that he receives continuous information about his crop.