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farmbox

A mobile app that allows consumers to locate, evaluate and sign up for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs near to them while tracking box contents, recipes, meal plans and more.


 
 View Mobile Prototype

Introduction

summary

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a system that connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms.

Farmbox is a simple-to-use mobile app that allows consumers to easily locate, evaluate and sign up for CSA options near to a specified location, while also encouraging retention after joining.

See: Mobile Prototype

My role: UX Research, UX Design, Visual Design, Branding.

Deliverables: Key Requirements, User Surveys, Competitive Analysis, User Personas, User Stories, User Flows, Wireframes, Usability Testing, High Fidelity Mock Ups, Prototype, Journey maps.

Tools Used: Figma, Photoshop, Illustrator, InVision, UsabilityHub, Draw.io, Pen & Paper.

The Problem

Not only is there very little awareness about CSA’s in the general population, but even for people who are aware, there are very few centralized resources of information about ALL the CSA options available in a particular area.

Further, there are many common frustrations that CSA users indicate are a barrier to retention, frustrations that could potentially be alleviated through the use of an app.

The main frustration reported by current and former CSA members is simply knowing what they will be receiving each week and what to do with it.

The goal: encourage participation and retention in CSA programs!

The Solution

My solution was to create a mobile app that helps users locate, evaluate and sign-up for a CSA in their area.

Once signed up, users can easily view subscription contents for a particular week.

They also receive recipe suggestions for the items in their box and can create and save meal plans and shopping lists.

My Process

user research

In order to gain better insight into awareness, participation and frustrations among the general public, I conducted an online survey utilizing google forms.

Survey results indicated awareness of CSA programs was alarmingly low, while participation and retention was both even lower.

 

User Survey Insights:

research results farmbox CSA participation
research results farmbox CSA participation
research results farmbox CSA participation
research results farmbox CSA participation

More detailed analysis from my survey can be found: here

Competitive analysis

Surveying the landscape for competitors, it was challenging to find a true competitor. Three applications emerged that offered some similar functionalities. These applciations were CSAware, Farmigo and Harvie.


 csaware farmigo and harvie logos

Results of my analysis:

CSAware: is a product for overall farm management that incorporates an app for customers as part of its package. It is a robust package that is aimed at farms rather than consumers, doesn’t offer a centralized locator for all CSA’s and might be expensive and overkill for a small farm.

Farmigo: like CSAware, is aimed at farms rather than consumers and is a robust farm management tool. It is not for locating and comparing CSA options and is integrated with farm management software.

Harvie: is also aimed at farms, but has a more streamlined interface than the other two competitors and doesn’t seem to involve a whole farm management solution. It does however only represent farms that are signed up with Harvie, rather than fully representing all options in the area.

More detailed analysis from my competitive and SWOT analysis can be found: here

personas

From my analysis, three types of users emerged:

  1. Current and former CSA participants
  2. People who are aware of CSA's but have never joined.
  3. People who are completely unaware of CSA's.

Persona #1: Jason - programmer
“I just never knew what I was going to get”

photo of Jason

Motivations -

He loves to cook, but doesn’t have a lot of free time for shopping and meal planning. He used to belong to a CSA and loved the locally sourced, fresh produce. He is very organized and likes to plan ahead.

Frustrations -

When he belonged to the CSA, he never knew what he was going to get and so never had the right ingredients to pair with what he got in his box. His kids could be picky eaters and he felt without proper planning much of the food went to waste.

Persona #2: Katelyn - beekeeper
“I just don’t need that much food”

photo of katelyn

Motivations -

Healthy eating and sustainable living are both a huge priority for Katelyn. Though she would like for everything she consumes to be organic, she needs to be very budget conscious in shopping for food. She would like to shop locally.

Frustrations -

CSA options in her area are too expensive for her budget. The shares usually involve too much food. She hates all of the plastic packaging in the supermarket.

Persona #3: Kristin - dental hygienist
“I don’t know what to cook that’s quick, healthy and easy”

photo of Kristin

Motivations -

Kristin really needs things to be convenient and quick because she doesn’t have a lot of time after work. She wants her whole family to eat healthier but finds it hard to implement.

Frustrations -

She hates that the only time she has to shop is on the weekend when the stores are busier and prices are higher. Eating healthy just seems like so much work. She grew up on processed food and doesn’t really know how to make vegetables taste good. She has three picky kids.

user stories

My personas informed the development of user stories. High priority tasks define the minimum viable product (MVP).

 

As a new user I want to
sign up for a CSA
As a general user I want to
find CSA’s with pick up locations near me
As a returning user I want to
log in to my account
see what produce is in a particular box
see suggested recipes based on box contents
As a farmer/manager I want to
add items to my inventory
create share/box types and prices
add inventory to weekly boxes

 

Full list of user stories available: here

user flows

Based on my low and high priority user stories, I created user flows for the MVP. Starting with sketches:

sketches of user flows

I then created my digital user flows in draw.io:


Farmbox "Sign-up"

sign-up user flow


Farmbox "Find a CSA"

sign-up user flow

All sketches are available here: here

All digital user flows: here

These flows informed a preliminary: Content Strategy and Sitemap

wireframes

Using my content strategy document and sitemap as a guide, I began sketching wireframes for each user flow:

sketches of wireframes


Early wireframe sketches: here

Sketching led to a better understanding of the information architecture-

  1. The dashboard contains the contents of the weekly box and the pickup location. Clicking the individual box content item leads to an item detail page, with description and suggested recipes.
  2. Users would be able to add recipes to their “meal plan” and the “additional” ingredients to a weekly shopping list. They can also view a recipe detail page, with a complete list of instructions.
  3. For my recipe ingredients, I wanted to break down the ingredients into 3 categories 1. The items from this weeks CSA. 2. Ingredients users would normally have on hand (by creating a “My Pantry” section) and 3. Additional items they might have to shop for.

This led to an early set of digital wireframes, created in Figma.

  landing page wireframe landing page wireframe


All preliminary digital wireframes: here

Testing the paper prototype

Using printouts of my wireframes, I conducted a series of early usability tests on my wireframes. These tests suggested I implement a few subtle changes moving forward;

  1. Make the items on the dashboard bigger and more prominent.
  2. I should evaluate whether drop-downs are the best solution for all of the sign-up choices.
  3. On the CSA detail screen, put the farm description above the sign-up button.
  4. Minimize choices/details in the top area of the item detail screen.
  5. Clarify the term "add-on.""

branding

Step 1: Logo and Style

After creating a series of mind maps and word lists I settled on the name farmbox.

Seeing as there is so little awareness of what a CSA is, I wanted a name that was indicative and straightforward- not too abstract. Farmbox is just that. It is a short, straightforward way to describe what you get with a CSA membership.

The aesthetic direction for this app was driven by the target customer archetype in a modern, farmer's market loving, eco-conscious foodie.

 
With the name settled and good sense of the “feel”, I moved on to sketching for a logo:

All sketches and branding maps: here

I conducted a number of preference tests on logo variations and typography choices which led me to the final, streamlined logo and style:

  final logotype mark and favicon

Step 2: Style Guide

My style guide details all design choices including typography, color palettes and iconography. Again, the basis of the design was to signify a fresh, urban take on rustic authenticity.

Color

For colors I wanted to avoid using green or brown as primary colors. I wanted something striking and unexpected, yet fresh and modern. I chose a palette of deep blue, magenta and pale grey. style guide colors

Typography

 
I used three complimentary fonts.

Gothic A1 is used for almost all the body text, navigation and headings. Its a versatile font with many weight options. Burford Rustic is used for the logo and page title. The Girl Next Door is used for landing page headings. quicksand, archivo narrow and source sans pro fonts

Icons and Illustration

 
I created a series of illustrations that emulate blue-ink line drawings of vegetables and food, reminiscent of vintage book illustration.

In order to offset the amount of text, I also created a series of icons to help my user easily identify sections of the app.

  style guide icons

Full Style Guide: here

Mock-ups v01

Applying the principles of my style guide to the wireframes I generated initial screen mockups.

  hi fidelity early mobile landing and dash mockups fi fidelity early mobile create and populated dash mockups

preference testing

Using usabilityhub.com and slack, I conducted a series of preference tests on my early mock-ups.

Test #1

Which is the prefered landing page design? mobile toolbar test first two options
mobile toolbar test second two options

Result: The most popular choice was A, the closest to my original mock-up. Users liked the richness of the colors and the vegatable variety.

Test #2

This question arose while testing my wireframes- would users prefer drop-downs or scrolling for the sign-up screen.? drop down vs scroll test

Result: Preference testing and design reviews indicated that though a lot of scrolling is not ideal, users would rather scroll than have to click on a drop-down and then click a second time to make a selection. Also immediate visibility of all options seemed preferable. So, A. was the clear preference for these tests.

Additional refinements suggested by testing:

  1. Make pricing information more prominent in the hierarchy on my landing page
  2. Make the active state more than just a different color- bold, underline…
  3. Refine buttons for “add to meals” and “add to shopping”
  4. create an intermediary pop-up for deciding which meal the add to button leads to
  5. Switch meals and shopping so pop-up seems to follow logical flow of language, rather than popping up behind.

Usability Testing

With these initial refinements implemented, I created a hi-fidelity inVision prototype for usability testing. Usability tests on the prototype were conducted both in person and remotely utilizing zoom.

See: V01 Prototype

The script used for testing is here

Order of tasks tested
Find the closest CSA to your current location
Sign up for a CSA subscription to “Joe’s Farm” with specified parameters
See contents of box for this week
View runner beans
See suggested recipes for runner beans
View garlicky runner beans
Add garlicky runner beans to lunch on monday
Add ingredients to shopping list
View meal plan
View profile
Log out

Results: Usability testing with the prototype indicated that I should refine my menu placement and make sure that it was more obvious how I could navigate to meal plans and shopping lists from my recipe and item detail pages. (Most participants did not know to click on the ellipsis for “more.”)

Testing also indicated that my interface was text heavy and suggested I might consider using icons to make sections more identifiable and consistent.

Usability test notes here

Full details of the design refinements based on prototype v01 testing here

Revised Mock-ups

Based on results of my usability tests and feedback from fellow designers, I revised my design to achieve a more minimal “card style” design and streamlined UI.

drop down vs scroll test

I incorporated icons throughout the application in order to alleviate the cognitive overload of reading too much text

drop down vs scroll test

Unlike the sign-up screen, where scrolling was prefered to drop-downs, on the farm detail page the amount of scrolling was not preferable, so I replaced the expanding and contracting sections with a tabbed menu that displayed all detail options directly below the basic farm information drop down vs scroll test

All final mock-ups here

final product

Building on all of these iterations and considerations, I reached my final design for a mobile app that encourages participation and retention in CSA programs through easy access of information, paired with recommended recipes, meal planning and shopping list features:

Mobile Prototype

 Final Mobile App:

 
final mobile app screens

Conclusion

conclusion

Through many iterations, there were valuable lessons to be learned from this project.

Regarding CSA's:

  1. Very few people know what a CSA is!
  2. From the survey participants, most people who have joined a CSA in the past have chosen to quit! (Retention is not good)

Regarding Information and Apps:

  1. Even if users are sent an email with the contents, they won’t dig for that information.
  2. Users would much rather scroll and have information/choices readily apparent than hidden behind drop-down menus.
  3. Users do not automativally think to look for “more” options under an ellipsis on the toolbar.
  4. Affordance is still sometimes needed to be remind users they can scroll.

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© 2019 Siuan McGahan