List App for Gramhal

Summary

Gramhal is a tech nonprofit on a mission to empower farmers with data to increase farm profitability. On conducting user feedback research for Gramhal’s crop quality inspection service, we found out that during crop sale, the power dynamic lays in the hands of a trader buying from the farmer because in a village, a small farmer is only connected to 1-3 traders but a trader has connections with 30-50 farmers in that village. This causes farmers to distress sell to the limited number of traders in their village who monopolise and bring down the prices.

To solve this problem Gramhal created a hyperlocal information and networking platform – where farmers could request quality inspection of their crops at their doorstep, list their produce on the platform and receive competitive pricing from a pool of buyers.

Key aspects

UI / UX for List App
Branding
Qualitative Research
Marketing Visuals
Product Showcase Website

Role

Sr. Designer and Researcher

Collaborative efforts

Gramhal field team (Research)
Srikalyan Burra (App Development)

Timeline

Version 1 - February - April 2021
Version 2 - April - July 2021
Pivot - August - October 2021

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Key Deliverables

After gathering some quantitative data on the demand for such a platform using some  lean experiments, we came up with an idea of an android application – List App. I designed the user experience and interface from end to end, managed the product development cycles, and collaborated with the developer to conduct usability tests with the team.

Apart from the UI/UX, I also designed the logo and branding system for the list app, marketing visuals to be used pre and post app launch, product showcase website, and conducted a user feedback research on the app.

App Concept and Features

Screens designed and prototyped using Figma.

Design Process

Key Stakeholders to design for

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Farmers

Need connections with buyers who would offer competitive market pricing.

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Village Level Aggregators (VLA)*

Opportunity to connect with remote sellers and and large trading companies.

*VLA collect crops from multiple small holder farmers in remote villages and carry the produce to market place to sell further to traders

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Traders

Opportunity to save on transportation and time by accessing crop quality data of potential sellers.

Features prioritised for the MVP 

For the first iteration seven main flows were designed in a course of 20 days and developed in the next 2 months to include the most important features. This enabled the team to launch the product just in time for the crop harvest season. 

Key Flows:

1. Sign Up Flow (for all users)
2. List a Crop (for sellers)
3. Mandi Prices (for buyers and sellers)
4. Knowledge Tab (for all users)
5. Automated Search (for buyers)

6. Interested Buyer (for sellers)
7. Hamburger menu (for all users)

Product tutorials which give a glimpse into the developed app 

Listing a crop - A way for farmers and VLA to add details about their crop type, quantity, location of sale, and contact details so buyers can reach out to them if there was a match. 

The design also considers a use case where non-farmers can list for farmers to enable the product to reach the last mile farmer.

Crop Listing feature video for users. Voice over (Hindi) by Karishma Dotia.

Automated Search - a feature on the buyer (trader and VLA) interface of the app where they can set a search bot that would enable automated matches to their buying requirements.

Automated Search feature video for users. Voice over (Hindi) by Simeen Kaleem.

Interested Buyer - a feature for crop sellers to find potential buyers who might be interested in buying their crop.

Interested Buyer feature video for users. Voice over (Hindi) by Karishma Dotia.

Wireframes and Interface explorations

Before designing the final frames for each flow, several explorations of interfaces were done on paper as well as on figma screens with a focussed set of participants. This process ensured that the designs were simplified, easy to understand, and decluttered as much as possible before they went into production.

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Wireframe explorations for screens involved in the List Tab.

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Clickable figma prototypes for usability testing before app production

User Feedback post app launch

After the app was launched and running for 3 months (generally crop selling season is 3 months long), I lead an interview based user research study. I conducted it with the help of 5 other Gramhal team members leading different verticals from tech to marketing to obtain diverse lens in the data points.

Core focus group of this research were traders and VLA who happened to be the most number of users owing to their ability to afford android phones. We interviewed around 50 users.

I also conducted a small study with farmers and the field team that helped farmers with app installs which was helpful in giving insights to the marketing team for future strategies.

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Miro board with synthesis of research data points into insights.

 I facilitated a design thinking workshop with the entire Gramhal team based on these insights and we came up with new ideas which ultimately led to a new pivot in Gramhal's service offering

Some of the most important insights from research with the trader were as follows:

1. Traders loved the experience of the app because they were able to set a search bot in a few simple steps helping them gather more connections they have had in a crop season.

But at times, getting constant calls from VLA and farmers for basic questions interrupted their work.

To solve this problem, in the next iteration I added a "whiteboard" space for traders to add some important information they would like to pass along to their list of sellers so they could read before calling.

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List App Version 2 with "whiteboard" feature

2. With covid-19 variants still in rise, Traders saw the potential of List platform as a marketing and branding tool for themselves outside mandi system. 

With this insight Gramhal team launched a small pilot on using the platform for establishing credibility of traders outside of APMC mandi which were a lot of times shut because of lockdowns.

I helped with the design of a system for traders to build profiles on the app. 

3. VLA used the opportunity of list app to expand their buying potential into nearby villages they never considered before.

"यह तो बड़ा ही प्यारा ऐप है, आसान सा और सुंदर, अब घर बैठे ही हमारा काम हो जाता है।"

("This is such a sweet app, very simple and beautiful, now I can do my work from the comfort of my home")

- Sunil, a VLA on using the automated bot on List App to find connections

"इस सीज़न में अब तक मैंने ऐप से तीन बार बिक्री के लिए व्यापारियों से सम्पर्क कर लिया है, अच्छी सुविधा है"

("In this season, through the app I have connected thrice with multiple traders to sell my aggregated crops, it is a nice service")

- Paliwal Traders, a VLA on using the automated bot on List App to find connections

Pivot in the Model

Traders and VLA greatly benefitted from the launch of List App in Madhya Pradesh. More than 10,000 installs took place in 7 months of operation, with traders forming the majority active users, followed by VLA and then farmer. 

But Gramhal's target users - farmers - were somewhere left behind. App use was not a natural instinct to the farmers, especially ones beyond the age of 35. Most app installs with farmer profiles were that of young members (mostly teenagers) in the farming household who owned a smartphone for educational purposes owing to the pandemic. 

Thus, to bring the focus back to creating value for farmers Gramhal re-envisioned the platform into
a chatbot system that was delivered via Whatsapp.

In just 8 months after launch, the chatbot - Bolbhav - had a user base of 1 lakh users in Madhya Pradesh. 

I had the opportunity to lead the design of some of the key flows for the Whatsapp chatbot and conduct an ambitious impact study with 1000 users.
 

Read further on my work on Bolbhav and the impact study in my next case study.

Using immersive research to design and improve services
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Branding and Website Design for Shila and Style
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Increasing user engagement with mandi review system
Bolbhav (2).jpg