UX researchAg tech startup data improves crop production

  • Customers embrace reports; enabling decision-making for field inputs.
  • C-suite endorses archetypes for use by the entire company.
  • Research results and recommendations included in the product roadmap.
Problem definition
  • UX consultant engaged to perform user research to inform product strategy work led by a fellow consultant/product strategist for a start-up company in its transition to becoming a product-led organization (to generate value versus just output).
    • Each stakeholder knew only part of the many agriculture roles, sub-sectors and cycles; and opinions varied on which to focus.
  • Work generated second engagement for an agile team consisting of fellow consultants and employees. 
    • Was UX lead for the agile team to determine the right things to work on and how. 
    • Performed UX research for additional areas of interest to the Product Director.
    • Multiple teams were working on functionality for different apps that could mistakenly result in unrelated and inconsistent report generation, a critical customer deliverable.

Research-informed product strategy

  • Performed various types of user research.
    • Facilitated working sessions with leaders and performed stakeholder and user interviews to document & disseminated knowledge about the agriculture industry, market segments and roles.
    • Interviewed agronomists to learn how and when reports are generated, including what types of analyses are performed, to prioritize which report functionality to deliver first.
    • Performed moderated card sorts during interviews with clients and members of key internal departments that use the company's various apps to inform
      • User and data hierarchy and access needs
      • Task, client and staff management
      • Content for the web app home screen
    • Performed usability testing on a prototype for an app that agronomists, seed dealers, and precision specialists could use to collect field's edge data.
  • Created in-depth archetypes (personas by role) for relevant roles in the following agriculture market segments:
    • Row crops
    • Permanent crops
    • Product verification & validation
    • Consumer packaged goods

Note: Content has been omitted or replaced with placeholder text to hide proprietary information.

Four slides overlapped including a 5-colored title slide that says user profiles; a single persona with lots of detail under various subtitles such as motivators, tasks performed and role titles; a page titled users by (agricultural) market segment; and a slide titled row crop user hierarchy displaying an organization chart.
  • Created UX strategy and information architecture for interface and output of multiple types of reports generated by web, and in-field data collection apps.
    • Each individual report combines to a comprehensive season's end report and allows for consolidated reporting of single or multiple fields.
    • Reporting enables decision-making on immediate and future field inputs based on the whether the cost is worth the value returned.
    • Proactively met with people across the company working on functionality that could generate reports to document report needs and make sure the final report design (being created by only one of the teams) would accommodate all data and analysis needs.
    • As report subject matter expert, directed two UI designers in creation of both report and report editing UI.
    • Collaborated with developers to resolve the unique needs of generating printable images in a pdf from the sources for screen images (to have enough resolution).
6 pages side by side representing a multi-field end-of-season report templates.
  • Brought together various individuals responsible for front-end design to facilitate decisions that would result in consistent UI elements across multiple apps.
6 pages side by side representing a multi-field end-of-season report templates.
  • Created a research repository for all research results and performed cross-study research that generated actionable insights and recommendations.
  • Flew two drones!

Key findings

  • There is great opportunity for technology to provide value in Agriculture and therefore the environment.
  • Growers need to know when to look where in their fields, including being alerted to possible problems before damage is visible.
  • Taking remedial action is not a given. The current cost of an input must be weighted against the resulting change in yield and projected price.


  1. Meet user expectations regarding order and method of data entry.
  2. Surface information to aid decision-making.
  3. Leverage and disseminate the expertise of employee.


melanie at melanieclarke dot com