Five lessons learnt for improving UX in agritech

Purple Shirt, with its expertise in agritech, has gained valuable insights into delivering user experiences (UX) that make a difference in the agritech sector.

Purple Shirt, with its expertise in agritech, has gained valuable insights into delivering user experiences (UX) that make a difference in the agritech sector.

Here are our top five lessons for improving UX practice in agritech:

1. Maintain a broader context

Understanding the broader context of the environments that user experiences are consumed in is always important regardless of the industry you are working in. When it comes to farming and agri-business we have found it to be even more critical to understand the wider sector whilst also understanding that “farming” comes in all sorts of flavours with different needs. So if you are focussed on let’s say dairy farming be sure to keep an eye on other types of farming such as horticulture and arable. 

This can obviously be hard as the agriculture sector is so broad and impacted by so many changing variables (just think weather and regulations). What we have found useful is having multiple members from the team across our agritech projects, each with varying interests across the sector. It’s also really helpful to sign up for and skim the headlines of the newsletters put out by the likes of Federated Farmers, to maintain a broader context. And of course, don’t miss the opportunity to attend events like Field Days!

2. Don’t skip user research

It is always a challenge to convince decision makers and those that control project budgets to allow more time for user research. In agritech, this can be even more challenging as often the people in the business have a farming background themselves or have close relationships with farmers which means they often think they have the user’s perspective covered. While it is an advantage to have stakeholders who are so close to their end users, we have found time and time again that as soon as we have a discussion with a farmer away from the client then we gather new insights (often contradictions to previously held beliefs). And if you can have these discussions on-farm, then even better!

3. Visualise it, and be realistic

With the vast amount of data generated in agritech, such as weather patterns, nutrient and fertiliser use, production yields, and soil composition, it's important to create visualisations that enable users to effortlessly understand what is happening on the land and in their business. With this in mind, when you are getting feedback from farmers on visualisations, be sure to invest a bit of extra time to create prototypes that represent realistic data (ideally specific to the user you are talking to) as farmers are practical experts in their field and give better feedback when they can talk to relevant details.

4. Specialise in mobile experiences

Agriculture is an industry of hard working people who spend considerable time out and about in the elements and relying on their mobiles phones. When thinking about digital  experiences, it is really helpful to have designers that specialise in mobile design including an understanding of the technical abilities and constraints of these devices. The importance of mobile to farmers also means you should always consider conducting user testing with mobile prototypes alongside desktop designs. And don’t forget, email is often part of your mobile experience as this is where users check emails and initiate actions related to your product or service. Ultimately you want to excel in designing interfaces that maximise usability and efficiency regardless if you are driving a tractor, standing in a muddy field or enjoying a well deserved cup of tea at the end of the day. 

5. Know your delivery teams

It's not all about the “agri” in agritech if you want to deliver successful user experiences for your customers and end users. Key to this is making sure all your hard UX research and design gets translated into what is built and delivered. This is a challenge facing technology teams in every industry but is probably more pronounced in agritech where UX and Product  practice is generally less mature. With development teams coming in all shapes and sizes, the key is to focus on collaboration and communication, combined with best practice design tooling and outputs.

We’re still learning but by integrating these UX lessons, Purple Shirt has been able to deliver innovative and practical solutions for our clients in the agritech sector and cater to the needs of farmers, agricultural specialists, and other stakeholders.

Favourite Agritech Projects

A Trusted UX Partner for Ballance Agri-nutrients’ Digital Transformation

In 2020, Purple Shirt was selected by Ballance to spearhead their UX research and design efforts for the new MyBallance app which would allow farmers to manage their fertiliser orders right from their phones wherever they were on the farm. 

Building upon the success of the initial engagement, Purple Shirt has since become Ballance's trusted UX as a service (UXaaS) partner across their digital ecosystem. Our expert team has collaborated closely with Ballance to shape their customer experience strategy, leveraging our deep understanding of the agricultural domain to drive user-centric design decisions that align with industry best practices and facilitating the exploration of future concepts for precision, more sustainable farming.

Key Outcomes:

  • Overarching CX framework with horizon based roadmap
  • Farmer validated prototypes and propositions
  • High quality UX analysis and specifications to drive improved development outcomes
  • Conceptual design for future state digital tools to support more sustainable farming practices

Design Lead for Global Dairy Trade’s Next Generation Trading Platform

Global Dairy Trade (GDT), a world leader in dairy trading platforms, entrusted Purple Shirt with the critical task of designing the user experience for its next-generation dairy trading platform. Purple Shirt embedded a dedicated team to provide comprehensive strategy, research, and design support across web applications and GDT's public-facing website, contributing to a highly successful launch and laying the foundation for future development of the dairy trading platform to maintain its global leader status.

Key Outcomes:

  • Simplification of auction monitoring, period based reporting and user management
  • Development of a tier based subscription model
  • Extensive customer insight to drive product roadmaps.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you improve UX and CX in your business, and make a real impact for your customers.

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