Our brief was to produce an industry leading application, providing an online hub to connect farmers with memberships based on their industry niche. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work building an app that is now the national knowledge and information network for Australian farmers.
The app had to create an accessible environment; encouraging farmers to share knowledge, experiences and best practice advice via discussion topics and threads which start from a farmer generated question, followed by responses and comments.
The farmer Exchange platform needed to interact seamlessly with the existing Farm Table site.
A searchable knowledge base via a simple to use interface was required.
The design had to be simplified to work within the app as it was going to be acessed on an iPad, tablet or smartphone. The design focused on the typography to make an abundant amount of information look aesthetically pleasing.
Images were limited to help the app appeal to cross commodity personnel, not just a particular niche or demographic. To avoid a mass of words and information overload, plenty of white space blocks contain the text. This helps the information to flow in a natural way that is readable for the eye.
Graphics such as the icons were repeated to create continuity of themes making separate topics and question categories easily identifiable. Icons were designed for simplicity and recognition.
Given that Farmer Exchange is an extension of FarmTable, the branding had to be independent yet have recognisable associations. It needed to continue the look of Farm Table with some autonomy in appearance. A special tone of blue that represents a blue summer sky, something a farmer sees a lot, was chosen to bind it to the logo of its parent site.
The branding had to be readable on any device and convey a simple contemporary design, respecting knowledge of the older generation and embrace innovation.
The development of core software involved components such as:
- A customer database
- Mail server
- Plugin framework to allow for future expansion of the app
- Installer for rapid installation of updates and new packages
- A monitor to notify admin when the system goes down
- A scheduler and a virtual private network
Farmer Exchange customises information for each user profile that reflects their interests and location. Content is managed by syncing databases via categories, tags, topics of discussion and questions asked by a user. Users can manage their login profiles and by indicating their interest areas, location and areas of expertise.
Grouping of members takes place and automatic content is generated and matched to a user or groups.
Peer to Peer Engagement
Registered logged in users can contribute to posts, threads, ask and answer questions. Industry experts are invited in to answer farmer questions or introduce items of discussion.
We incorporated a live chat window using Olark which can be operated remotely by one or more staff and full transcripts of conversations can be saved and printed for admin records. The chat window is on App pages, so problems can be solved, and questions can be answered in real time, improving farmer support. Group chats are also facilitated.
We have built in features, such as SMS alerts to members on threads and areas of interest.
Feedback & Support
Farmer Exchange is continuously developing and growing according to customer needs, so an avenue for feedback via a contact form can be submitted by a member. A reporting system for inappropriate content is available also.
An online support ticketing system is built in to categorise client contact or tech support issues, removing as much email as possible and providing transcripts of client contact as needed.