User Research

Delta Farmers Institute

As a user researcher, I had the opportunity to work with the Delta Farmers Institute to conduct a design evaluation of their website. The Delta Farmers Institute (DFI) is an organization that works closely with Delta farmers, and their website provides information about water salinity, tides, and weather trends and forecasts that are crucial for farmers to make informed decisions about their crops. Our goal was to identify which aspects of the website were valuable to the current audience and to uncover opportunities for improvement to better support the Delta farmers.

The Client

The Delta Farmers Institute provides crucial services to Delta Farmers, such as acquiring provincial agriculture funds and managing their website. The website is an essential tool for farmers to access critical information, enabling them to make informed decisions about their crops. Water salinity levels are particularly important to farmers, as they directly affect crop survival rates, while tides and weather impact the movement of freshwater in the Fraser River.

The goal of the field study is to identify which aspects of the website were valuable to DFI's current audience which would also help uncover opportunities for improvement that can potentially better support the Delta farmers. The study aimed to also help DFI seek additional funding from the provincial government to enhance their services for the farmers.

Preliminary Research

After conducting early preliminary research using heuristic evaluation methods with our client, the client has revealed information that showed us how Delta farmers were not too familiar with technological products. 

We prepared a plan for the interview, listing the necessary questions to ask each participant to obtain the information we needed. We traveled to Delta for our field research and obtained consent forms from each participant before starting the interviews. We conducted informal interviews with farmers about their farming procedures and watched how they used the website to check for salinity and water levels. We asked follow-up questions to get more specific thoughts on the website, while preparing comprehensive interview questions to inform further analysis from our heuristic evaluation as we prepare to map out our next steps of the study.

Study Methods

We used a pre-questionnaire to gather general user demographic information and insight into their basic knowledge of technology and website use. We conducted a heuristic evaluation and an interview-based field study to understand our participants' daily needs and how they envisioned the DFI website to function. These methods were chosen to capture a thorough understanding of the users' needs and the website's usability.

Our evaluation aimed to uncover insights to enhance website usability before conducting a field study. We later conducted an interview-based study with rural farmers in the Delta district to understand their farming practices, use of the DFI website, and gather insights to inform the design of future systems that support farmers in making crucial decisions.

Analyzing the Data

The field study categorized farmer responses into three categories: positive, neutral, and negative. The positive feedback highlighted the website's use of colors and visualizations, which were easy for the farmers to understand. The website also provided most of the necessary information, including schematic diagrams that helped farmers process the data in the field as well as water visualization indicators which were also helpful and easy to understand.

Despite these positive responses, the farmers have recommended several improvements to the platform. Neutral feedback suggested that the information layout could be improved for greater efficiency.


Throughout our research on the usage of farmers who track water irrigation levels at a frequent basis, we have determined that the Delta Farmers Institute's website provides a significant amount of information that is relevant to the work of the farmers, particularly in tracking water irrigation levels. The conducted study allowed us to analyze how farmers extract information of graphs, charts, and indicators from the website that help them with outdoor field work.

However, the farmers have shown how many of these useful tools were located in less convenient parts of the website. To mitigate this issue, we suggested various methods to improve the design and layout of the website to enhance the farmer's user experience. Some of the recommended design elements include real-time notification alerts, predictions and historical analysis, and user customizations to improve the ways farmers access these tools on their phone.

The Solution

Our study led us to propose modifications to convert the Delta Farmers Institute's website into a mobile application. Customization, real-time notifications, improved mapping, and readable historical data are essential features that can help farmers access critical information more efficiently. The customization feature helps users get unique information, and real-time notifications ensure that farmers don't miss key information. The improved map function allows for easy access to location data, and the readable historical data helps farmers find patterns and predict trends.


Real-time notifications to alert farmers when salinity
is ideal.


Customized dashboard to help farmers track their most important locations. 


A filtering system to help users narrow down to specific locations.


Provide users with historical data of salinity levels from various locations.


A map interface that displays locations and additional information from water flow activities.