TerrAvion is an aerial imagery service for the agriculture industry. Planes fly over the fields, take images in multiple wavelengths and provide the imagery to the farmers.
An iOS iPad app has already been available. The goal was to translate the iOS app to the Android platform, specifically to Android tablets. The project timeframe was short due to the season based usage of the company services.
The first step was to analyze the existing iOS app. Helpful in the process were user behavior insights.
ORGANIZING THE UI AND REMOVING OBSTACLES FOR THE MOST COMMON TASK FLOWS, WERE THE MAIN GOALS.
Selecting different parts of the farm, divided into blocks, is one of the two primary actions in the app. The iOS version splits the indication of the selected block and the button to change the blocks into two separate UI elements (highlighted in green). The calendar is integrated similarly.
The Android version combines the block indication with the ability to change the block an the same place. The same solution has been implemented for the date selection. Removing unnecessary UI elements and making more room for the map to show the data provided.
Main action No.1: Using the Blocks
For a better data representation, farms are divided into blocks. Users with large farms have more than 100 blocks available.
On the iOS version, blocks were available on a list that needed to be improved. It took to much time and effort to change between blocks. The second challenge with the block list is the repetition of the share button. It clutters the UI. There’s also no clear indication of the ability to download blocks for offline viewing, a critical and often used functionality.
One of the discussed alternatives were checkboxes. To view a block the user had to tap the label. For sharing or downloading, the box needed to be used together with the appropriate option at the bottom of the list.
Besides a small target area, this alternative had two significant disadvantages. The checkbox had a high visual priority and grabbed the users' attention. It also diminished the affordance of tapping the block label to view it on the map
Instead of the checkboxes, the app uses action buttons. The user has to tap on a block and then make a selection to either view, share or download the block data.
One of the advantages of the proposed solution is consistency. To take any action, a block needs to be selected first, following by a button at the bottom of the list. The workflow for all three possible actions is the same. This approach has a disadvantage. To select a block and view it on the map, the user had to make two taps instead of one.
TO FIND A FASTER WAY TO SELECT BLOCKS, THE FOCUS TURNED TO THE MAP.
Users know their farms very well and also know exactly where to move the map to view a particular area. But it was hard to see which block covered which part of the farm.
Since users rely on the map to view the imagery, a solution has been proposed to show the labels of each block on the map. It allows the user to browse through the blocks without the need to open up the block list
The tap and hold action opens up a contextual menu for the block. The actions to share and download are available.
MAIN ACTION NO. 2: USING THE CALENDAR
The calendar plays an important role. It allows the user to spot trends based on the data provided on different days.
Different variations have been tested with sketches and wireframes. Every alternative affected other UI elements and the relationships between them.
One of the reasons to use the app is to spot trends. A solution was proposed to allow the user to change the dates by swiping with the finger horizontally on the screen. The user taps on the slider to launch it and then swipes left or right.
The slider also works with a tap and the swipe following directly after. But the option to launch the slider just by a single tap first remained. It's easier for new users to experiment with the feature as tapping on a UI element is one of the first actions new users make.
Due to the development schedule, the slider didn’t make it to the first version of the Android app.
The calendar has been placed at the bottom allowing the user to change between the recent days and have a clear view of the changes on the map. To make the calendar more useful only the dates are displayed when new imagery is available. Flights don’t take place daily. The plane icon indicates scheduled flights in the future.
IMPROVING THE DETAILS OF THE MOST FREQUENT TASK FLOWS
Changing the wavelengths when switching blocks is a repetitive task that can be automated. A solution has been proposed to remember the previous selections for each block. It makes it easier for a user to view the right information either for a specific block or a timeframe of the season.
The iOS version has interactive elements in various colors and sizes. It’s difficult to differentiate the interactive elements in the app from the static ones.
The Android version uses text capitalization and icons to communicate interactivity. Every selected element also has a standardized green highlight.
The app UI is accessible to users with color blindness.
The app prompts the user to log in before showing any content as it's focused on existing TerrAvion clients.