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Redesign: Mobile data collection app for field teams

A geo-spatial data collection iPad application used by internal field teams while out on client farms.


Fall 2019-Spring 2020


Lead UX designer focusing on the workflow design, user research, and visual design


Indigo Ag, Inc.


I evaluated, re-designed, and tested an iPad app with users and released a version that showed improved performance.

Team members at Indigo used an iPad application out on farms to record data about specific points in a field, but after many reports of frustration impeding their work, wasting time, and in some cases, using additional apps where this one fell short, I was tasked with improving the experience of the app.

  • I conducted research to uncover the issues causing frustration and developed a roadmap of features and changes to address the problems.

  • I created designs and tested them with users in simulated use scenarios before handing the designs off to engineering teams to build.

  • As a product team, we developed an app release schedule that would have minimal risk to users and allow us to test and iterate on the app.

This app was initially designed by a contracted company, but I took over as an in-house designer working with a product manager and a team of 6 engineers.


What exactly is the problem?

I needed to first discover what the underlying issues were before I could determine what needed to be fixed. Being new to the product, I used various research methods to learn about the different aspects of the app which allowed me to go deeper than just hearing about the obvious problems.

Research outcomes

The issues discovered in my research fell into one of three categories: missing functionality, usability issues, and new feature requests.

Table of all the research findings organized by topic with severity indicated by number of times a finding was mentioned.

I worked with a PM to prioritize the design work based on how many users reported a topic as a problem, and started with solving the missing functionality and usability issues.

I consolidated the issues into these main topics:

  • Inefficient workflows took too many steps to enter information or navigate a task taking up a lot of user's daily task time.

  • Lack of variety in page layouts led to users getting disoriented with which page they were on.

  • iPad app that wasn't leveraging native IOS patterns, causing long loading times and making it inefficient for development teams.

  • Missing features such as: a GPS function to mark important locations and a delete button.


Inefficient workflows, wasted time

Fixing the the navigation structure was my top priority since it is the core structure of the application.

Upon further investigation, I could see how user’s time was being wasted with a linear navigation structure. Completing the average task required 3 steps, if the wrong list item was selected, it required the same amount of steps to go back and select the correct one. Users also lost context when navigating away from the list, so I updated the design to maintain the view of the list while navigating.

Previous app screens and arrows to show how the user had to step through each screen to navigate

The inefficient navigation was due to the content in the app being broken down into three separate lists, forcing the user to view and navigate one list per screen. I reimagined this content structure to be combined into a tree structure that the user could view and use to navigate the app.

Navigation Problem-Separate Lists Combin

Combined list into new tree-structure for easier navigation

Consolidated menu button

In addition to the lists being on separate pages, the main action buttons were different on each page as well. By combining the lists into one view, I could also combine the actions buttons into one menu.

Primary buttons on each page looked identical but had different actions

Added Feature - Consolidated Menu.png

New consolidated menu button


Updated page layouts and native patterns

By updating the page layouts to utilize the "master detail" iOS pattern, I was able to incorporate a native pattern that enabled my new navigation structure while showing important information more efficiently on the screen. This also allowed users to drill into more detailed views without navigating to a whole new page, saving on load time and keeping them oriented in the app.

Once the information architecture was determined, I iterated on the UI design.

Initial UI concept sketches

UI wireframe designs

Final visual designs


Added missing features

This new layout also created more space for new features to be added in the main interaction areas.

Navigation button added to provide driving directions


Fake it til’ you make it: simulated research scenarios

This app is intended to be used in a cornfield, but the users I had access too were inside a hotel conference center. To get the most out of this testing session, I set up a room with pictures at different stations to simulate scenarios they would typically encounter in the field. I also utilized the plants in the hotel so users could enter real data. Users went to each station and completed tasks that tested the updated navigation as well as the newly added features using the new version of the application.


Releasing version 2.0

Since this app was being released to active users, we needed to be strategic about how and when to roll out such big changes. We planned our release around the times of the year when the app would be least frequently used.

This allowed us to have a minimal risk to disrupting user work. It also allowed time to train users on new features and gather feedback to continue to improve the product.

Impacts seen after releasing the updated version

  • The use efficiency of this app improved by about 30%, which we measured by timing the common tasks users performed. 

  • We saw better data quality recorded in the app since users had more time to enter data and could easily go back to make edits to recorded data.

  • Overall, users were happier and the reports of frustrations decreased while the requests for new, advanced features increased.

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