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Rice Herbicide Disruptive Solution (RHDS)

overview

A digital platform for managing, selling, and implementing a new sustainable rice herbicide program for Bayer Japan, a leader in pharmaceuticals, bio-technology, and agriculture science. This disruptive new method would allow farmers to create highly customized herbicide mixtures to optimize rice farming.

the challenge

Design a model and MVP for transitioning pen and paper workflows to web/application based, while enabling the behaviors to support the rollout and adoption of a new customizable herbicide solution.

the outcome

A tablet based web application that enables sales teams to seamlessly onboard and assess a farmer’s needs, generate customized recommendations, and support the sales process via social proof.

role & contribution

• Business and Service Designer, Strategist
• Technical Product Manager
• Workshop Designer

# Finding the Opportunity
I was asked by design firm AQ to help guide this project from concept creation through to development as a business and service designer, then to lead as a technical product manager overseeing UI/UX design and development teams.

As the lead service designer and strategist on the team, it was my task to help define the vision and opportunity area for Bayer’s new digital platform for custom herbicide solutions. I approached this problem by planning a week-long design sprint with our client; working through mapping the herbicide industry landscape and deep diving into personas and user needs through interviews with on the ground sales teams. By mapping the opportunity space and distilling user insights, I was able to help Bayer identify a unique area of opportunity and develop a future vision and roadmap for an integrated digital sales channel.

With the direction secured, It was my responsibility to lead the creation of an MVP to test and validate the opportunity. In this capacity I was in charge of creating user flows and technical specifications of the product, working closely with UX/UI designers to take wireframe sketches into tangible prototypes, and working with development teams to plan the information architecture, database structure, and application infrastructure.

We developed and tested figma prototype with farmers and successfully launched an MVP to live users for the 2022 rice growing season. We have gathered feedback from the MVP and are now preparing for a wider 2023 release.

# MVP Design and Touchpoints
Before we could even attempt a digital marketplace, we knew we had to gradually shift user behavior from a traditional pen and paper, to one where farmers were comfortable using digital tools as their primary interface.

To do this, we decided that digitally transforming the current sales and onboarding process would be the most seamless way to get both farmers, and sales teams to adopt new digital-first behaviors. We didn’t want to change the current process, but demonstrate how much easier and powerful it could be with digital tools by alleviating existing pain points, such as tracking and reporting of weeds, and showcasing innovative new possibilities, like tailored and customized herbicide prescriptions according to the specifics of each individual rice field.

I looked at our user journey and identified key interactions that would define our user experience, and worked to make sure these moments delivered a ‘wow’ — that feeling when ‘something just works’ and better than expected, both on a functional and emotional level.

One of these moments that I designed was a method for asynchronous account creation. Allowing sales teams to onboard farmers without interrupting the flow during a face-to-face conversation. Another was a micro-interaction, delaying the display of the customized results screen with ‘analyzing’ screen. In user-testing, the customized herbicide recommendations were generated too fast, making one of our core technological innovations feel cheap rather than significant. I added emotionally affective success states at the end of the onboarding flow to help emphasize the closing of a deal, and facilitate the closing of the sales discussion. I also helped to overhaul the visual design of the application, to help our experience feel more inline with a contemporary web application, than an engineering-first b2b tool.

# Surprising Insights
We learned from early user testing that, as expected, cost and effort were key deciding factors for farmers. What was unexpected however, was that commercial rice farmers were very open to new and innovative solutions. We found that farmers love to boast about having the newest and greatest solutions, and most surprisingly, that they are avid social media users and consumers. Farmers regularly update each other with either local or friend groups, and many follow farming influencers on YouTube.

With these insights, I pushed the team to ask additional questions. If farming products have a social aspect to them, how then, might we make this experience better with friends? Where could we add a viral loop? Could we outperform the competition by not just meeting farmers functional needs, but their qualitative and social ones?

This exploration led directly to two features, the ability for farmers to share their custom herbicide prescriptions with friends, via a share link, or print out, and the ability for farmers to add friends to the platform, allowing them to monitor and follow along the farmer’s rice growing journey.

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