During the research phase, I conducted a survey to understand the journey and struggles of an aspiring gardener. The results gave us a lot of insights about the holistic needs: how to prepare the soil, which crop to choose based on the season and climate, how to water the plant over time. I also researched about similar market place-like design patterns. This led me to rethink the Openfarm user journey with a Search page as a core milestone.
Aligned with the mental model of a Search page layout (search bar, multiple criteria) and through ideations with the team, we've felt the urge to provide a location and time-based Search that would answer the gardener's basic question:
To sustain peer-to-peer knowledge sharing on Openfarm, and limit the gardener's frustration when not finding a guide, I implemented virtuous loops by encouraging them to create an alert, create a guide or post a request.
Existing Crop page
New Search page
From the Search page, back to the Homepage, we needed to replicate and wrap up the core purpose of Openfarm into a minimalist yet straight to the point Search bar.
After implementing primary vs. secondary call-to-actions with distinctive colors, adding a compelling background image ( sunny tomatoes!) and an actionable footer, I revisited the multiple paths a visitor might want to take to reach their goals. For instance, as a seasoned gardener, I might want to jump straight ahead into creating a guide (taking the shortcut from the navbar) or look for a specific heirloom crop (through the search bar). As a beginner, I might want to browse for inspiration or pick the beginner guide (through the thumbnails).
This multiple-path approach being also metric-friendly ( Google Analytics!), it enables us to quickly get more knowledge about the most demanded topics and crops.
Priority to getting the job done rather than fixing bugs
The Openfarm team were digging in an unordered yet labeled list of Github issues. This approach was putting the focus on bugs rather than providing the big picture of how to get the job done for our targeted users. Implementing a backlog was definitely needed in our team journey, including mentions about discussion stages.
How to cut down my design deliverables into 5-min dev implementation?
An interesting issue towards OS contributions, as a Designer, was to keep in mind to cut down my work so that any Developers could implement it within 5 min of their time.
All types of discussion don't fit into Slack
Openfarm has been my first time ever experiencing remote, distributed and OS all in once. When I joined the team, it was important for me to identify which channels (Github issue, Github project, Slack, Trello, email, Google Drive, Figma...) worked for which purpose (UI questioning, reminder, general vs. detailed feedbacks, seeking adhesion...), in order to improve the overall efficiency of our every day interactions.
Involving my teammates through the entire design process
From the beginning of my collaboration with Openfarm, I wanted to make my design process more transparent and share it with the team and the OS contributors as soon as I got started. Figma has been great to: 1. Question along the way the lead engineer and the founder about past UI decisions 2. Share my Artboards through Github to shorten the implementation process and give access to the CSS and other layout attributes, together with any past discussions 3. Overall great to share my entire process: from design patterns research, sketches, low-fi to high-fi wireframes.
Side note: from July 2017, Figma is moving from a free to a paid business model, which will definitely impact the choice of using it in the future. As a free-ok alternative, I've been using the Craft plugin for Sketch.