How user research is helping us design for farmers!
Studying farmers in the context has helped us in knowing their perceptions and building a strong connection
Any kind of business needs a comprehensive consumer research to improve its service. When the business is concerning farmers, it becomes all the more imperative to invest in knowing what the farmers’ needs are, their expectations, and most importantly, to take them along in your journey. At AgroStar, we believe in the farmer as not just a receiver of our service, but also as an active participant who, while controlling the reigns of his future, will also take our vision forward with his personalized and genuine feedback. Consumer research has been the most helpful way to develop the right products, as any user-centric organization will agree with. The customers are no longer just a patron of a service. They are active participants in developing the vision, playing a role for their own future. Deep understanding of the customer is what makes any product arrive and stay for long in today’s world. At AgroStar, the farmer is always placed at the forefront before making any business decision.
Recently, the AgroStar cross-disciplinary team made of members from UX, Product and Engineering, visited the farmers in rural Maharashtra to gain more insight on what their most pressing concerns/needs were. We discovered that a number of farmers still do not have access to information regarding crops, crop-protection, nutrition and market scenario. Apart from that, we learnt that farmers require standard inputs of good quality and hardware at affordable prices and that too on time.
The team met 14 farmers in the age group of 25-62 years owning an average land acreage of 5 to 15 acres, with the exception of one farmer who owned 45 acres. Having spent sufficient time with each farmer , our experts could gauge the excitement of farmers on seeing the new feature of our mobile application “AgroStar-Agriculture App”, now being available in the Marathi language. The merging of technology and their local language brought cheer to them, and increased their faith in us, as there’s hardly anyone who has concentrated a lot of efforts on the localization of apps useful to them. Conducting field research, meeting farmers and listening to their stories of how they currently solve issues with make-shift techniques or traditional ways and just empathizing with them has helped us build a personal connect with them.
Farmers are eager to coach each other. There is no embarrassment in learning new things
Our mobile application, apart from increasingly becoming an indispensable part of their lives, has also increased their expectations from us. Our content, given its right positioning and catering to the users, has helped us to connect with our target consumers and fulfill their needs.
“Aap bahut sahi cheez kar rahe ho. Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon hame target nahi karte hai, aap bilkul sahi ja rahe ho.”
– Sharad, Bhori, Maharashtra
Farmers are eager to learn the benefits of using technology to move away from the traditional ways of doing agriculture. Testing our app in the field has validated our ideas and at the same time revealed certain new design considerations based on how our users understand the value of online agri-knowledge and purchase. We constantly use these learnings to develop compelling features on our app. A grounded design approach that best leverages the existing learning patterns of the users is what also helps us stay ahead in our endeavor.
While researching rural India, our insights told us that generating trust and credibility was important to innovate for our users and solve their problems. . We realized that we need to take care of their inhibitions and help them make informed decisions. Many of the current user interface trends and patterns are not applicable to these users. New models either have to be inculcated or observed from their real life experiences. For those who have not been online before, it is very important to gradually introduce technology to them, so that onboarding is easier and it paves the way to amplify the usage in no time.
Author: Muzayun Mukhtar, Head – User Experience at AgroStar