“User journeys” optimizes the development process of the Farmbook

At the EUREKA consortium meeting in August 2020, Laurens Van der Cruyssen presented a technique called “User journeys” - a tool that ensures that you have considered everything to optimize the user-experience.

Laurens Van der Cruyssen is a Social psychologist and employed at Leapforward, who is one of the partners in EUREKA. He has a PhD in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

At the EUREKA consortium meeting in August 2020, Laurens presented a technique called “User journeys”. A user journey is the experiences a person has when interacting with something – in the context of EURKEA “The Farmbook” (web-portal) that is being developed. The technique is used to map the overall user experience and set of actions that one can take in for instance using a new database/web-portal. Laurens explains that a “User journey” maps a high level of details on exactly what steps different users take to complete a specific task within a system to optimize the user-experience: “It is a tool you use to simplify a given situation - typically software - by mapping all stakeholders and analyse their User journey in order to identify opportunities and problems. It is a way to structure a problematic situation – it allows you to have a better view of a very complex system, for instance if you have to design something for the population of an entire country. You cannot make journeys for every single user of such a system, but there are certain profiles, that you need to take into account – for instance people who are blind or handicapped, an elderly person (who cannot use the internet very well), younger persons (who are super internet users, but does not understand the concept of social security, because they've never had to use it themselves) etc. If you take multiple journeys, then you can start identifying a system, build the web-site and then test it. The User journey is a tool that secures that you have considered everything to optimize the user-experience”.

An example: “Desi” from Bulgaria

At the consortium meeting the EUREKA partners got a little preview of a User journey, as Laurens presented the well-educated young farmer “Desislava” (Desi) from Bulgaria, who is a new entrant: “Her work with organic farming is very much reliant on all the knowledge she can get from the world outside through connections, networking, events etc. Mapping out her journey towards solving a problem, is helping us to identify the things that she really needs. For instance; she is very well educated, therefore she will not have any trouble handling academic language - but she does not have a network yet, so anything we can do to create a network for her through e.g. “a social media forum” on the Farmbook platform would be of great help to her. Further, as soon as she gets into this network, she is a great asset, because she immediately would figure out the power of the community”. This kind of knowledge is very important when building a new web-portal such as the Farmbook.

Combined studies

At the moment Laurens and his team are busy working on exploring 16 User journeys with 18 personas for the EUREKA-project. In order to determine the interesting profiles Laurens explains that they do a persona mapping exercise, where experts from the field gather as many examples of profiles as possible. Subsequently they ask them to select the most important ones: “This is one way to do it, another way is to send out a survey to map out the different profiles based on data. We've found that this is not always as representative and satisfying as we'd like, and that by using experts and end-users we generally have the most important profiles covered”.

The planned User journeys will be created through workshops with experts and end-users of the platform (such as farmers, foresters and advisors) – along with the analysis of 18 personas, the research will be combined with a wide end-user survey with more than 1500 respondents and 40 qualitative interviews with farmers. In order to validate these personas and User journeys, they will be presented during a series of validation workshops. After that the goal is to use them and adapt them when needed, because just like the world we live in, a User journey is constantly changing.

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