The Flock Wellbeing app is currently in development as a tool to help Australian sheep farmers manage the risks associated with their flocks. It uses a combination of weather data for their location (from BOM) combined with on-farm data (from their Farm Management System) to provide real-time insight and risk assessment.
User Research: Contextual Enquiry
The initial User Research I conducted was through contextual enquiry:
- User Interviews
- Workshops with subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Site visit with a sheep farmer
- Site visit with a university agriculture course
These initial sessions provided insights into user behaviours, shaped initial requirements, and provided the beginnings of a product strategy – including a financial model. The key challenge seemed to be providing time-based insights to users – namely how far into the future is a risk, how long will it last, and how severe will it be compared to normal. For example some risks (e.g. parasites, cold stress) are common around certain times of the year and so farmers did not want to continuously see risk alerts during those periods.
First impression prototype
This concept was shown during user interviews and SME workshops resulting in initial feedback that the process was too simple. There would be significant information missing, it would not match how farmers managed their flocks, and would not provide useful insights.
Proto.io Wires and Usability Testing
The second stage of wireframes were built with proto.io to accommodate a simpler workflow for mobile app prototyping.
This initial round of usability testing revealed some incorrect assumptions that had come out of the initial contextual research. There were two conflicting sets of feedback:
- Half of the users found the entire process too complicated and too daunting
- The other half found it not sufficiently complicated to replicate what happens in their farm – namely that the sheep were not broken down enough into individual groups
From this feedback it seemed we needed a more complicated prototype, one that could sufficiently handle conditional variations.
For the final prototype I switched back to Axure to allow for more complex dynamic functionality. We switched the design to create a shorter on-boarding process that makes more assumptions and provides a limited experience. This would be enough for farmers who did not have sufficient capability to organise their sheep into “management groups” (individual flocks). For farmers that did want to get further insights there would be a way to expand the profile of their farm to include more information. This was a way to manage both sets of feedback from the previous round of usability testing.
The final wireframes were put together into a detailed functional specifications document outlining all of the intended functionality for the intended developers.