Over the past 75 years, family-owned farming company Beck’s Hybrids has built their legacy creating high-quality seeds to help farmers improve their crop yields. As a key player in the farming industry, they’ve been around to see modern day farming evolve from simply planting a seed and watching it grow, to a complex study of data
Designing The Farmserver Experience
PLANTING THE SEEDS FOR A NEW GENERATION OF EFFICIENT FARMING.
In the past, farmers have spent endless hours collecting and analyzing this data themselves, or thousands of dollars hiring various experts to do this research for them. The team at Beck’s Hybrids felt that in today’s world, there should be a simple and affordable solution for everyone.
To achieve their goal, Beck’s came to DeveloperTown armed with an idea for a new suite of precision agriculture tools and a vision of what those tools may look like. We tailor each creation experience to the client, to make sure we get the best possible product we can. For Beck’s Hybrids, here’s what we did:
Water system managers spend hours measuring water, tracking data, and creating complex reports to verify that water is safe and ready to go. But these workers are taking notes on paper, filling out an Excel sheet at the office, and manually creating reports- often resulting in error, frustration, and wasted time.
A water/waste water consulting firm, Centric Consulting, knew there had to be a better, faster, more accurate way to track and report information for water system operators. So they decided to build it. Initially, they created a solution designed in-house, but as the application proved its value, more and more of their customers wanted to use it. This was great for Centric, because it proved they had created something the market needed and would pay for. Unfortunately, keeping the software up to date in-house quickly became overwhelming.
Digging Into Precision Agriculture
WE START BY LISTENING.
Beck’s mission with FARMserver was simple: create a centralized location where a farmer could improve productivity on the farm through the use of personalized data. In order to help make this mission a success, our team needed to learn as much as possible about precision ag and learn it all from the farming experts themselves.
We sat down with Beck’s team and did a custom Absorb Session—where our client tells us everything we need to know about their product and problems, and we come equipped with questions to dig deep into the roots of the current issues and ultimate goals. This allows us to create the best possible product for the end users: in this case, farmers worldwide.
Churning Out Ideas
WE THINK ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE FIRST.
A few days after the Absorb Session, we met with Beck’s precision ag team again to brainstorm, storyboard, and present ideas with one another in an effort to uncover the core problem and determine a course of action to fix it. We look at the big picture before we get into specifics because we want to make sure we uncover the roots of the issues—and fix them.
In our discovery process, we realized that the biggest problem was the user experience. Though the tool was extremely beneficial to farmers everywhere, they didn’t have time to learn how to use a complex software. We agreed to make something crisp, clean, and user-friendly. We wanted farmers to have the ability to improve their growing process immediately.
Cultivating With The Farmer In Mind
WE DESIGN FOR THE USER.
At DeveloperTown, we emphasize quick creation, continuous feedback, and adaptive planning. Beck’s provided us with user stories from farmers and we helped morph their past product into something that matched their priorities. We worked from brainstorms to sketches to wireframes—seeking the approval of our client with every step forward.
We solidified our ideas into visual design. Our designers balanced technical functionality and visual elements to create a system that is both aesthetically pleasing and engaging. The goal of our designs was to create a simple interface that allowed farmers to access all of their important information without requiring any specialized training. We even tweaked the code we inherited to match the features we wanted to include.
Weeding Out Issues
WE GET REAL FEEDBACK.
We do this by traveling to the real user and watching what happens. The outcome usually falls in one of three buckets: most stuff worked, some big questions, or everything exploded. In this case, we went to Beck’s headquarters and sat with farmers—to watch what went well and where they struggled. We took all of the valuable information we discovered and made necessary changes to create a final, solid, product.
Cream Of The Crop
WE RELEASED AN AWESOME PRODUCT.
At its core, FARMserver is a secure, centralized, cloud-based application where farmers have access to a unique record-keeping system focused at the field level. Features include comprehensive aerial imagery that delivers deep insight into field variability, field-based weather monitoring, a crop scouting app, and much, much more.
Growing Our Audience
You could create the greatest application in the world, but it would fail if nobody knew about it. That’s why we implemented an informational marketing page to give farmers a taste of what the application has to offer. The marketing site highlights the features, benefits, and usability of FARMserver—steering farmers in the right direction when it comes to precision agriculture.