Market Map is a platform that aids users to locate farmers markets with fresh goods in their area. This platform is aimed to help city dwellers get out of their apartments, support local farmers, and eat farm-fresh produce. Market Map shows users where markets can be found, at what time of year they're open, hours, special features, reviews, and more.
More individuals are moving into cities and dense urban spaces looking for opportunities. However, living in a city often comes with expenses. One problem I've found is that locating fresh, locally sourced produce in cities can be challenging. Shopping local farmers markets seem to be the best bet for individuals looking for in-season produce, but how can someone find these farmers markets? Finding and curating up-to-date information on each market location is a challenge due to vendors constantly changing their availability. Also, some smaller markets have closed in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic or are running limited hours during the off-season.
This project plans to cast a large net but primarily targets people living in cities and urban spaces to help them gain access to fresh goods. I’ve also directed the marketing towards local shopping advocates, fresh food seekers, organic food shoppers, vegetarians/vegans/strict dieters, customers seeking food education, and eco-conscious individuals.
I started my research by creating a mind map centered around farmers markets and began to brainstorm how they impact communities. I began to think about all the different ways markets benefit people, from providing people in urban spaces with fresh goods to directly supporting small farmers and businesses, while indirectly helping reduce fuel and gas emissions by shopping locally.
This mind map helped dawn the notion that most Americans probably do not know where their food is coming from, who grew it, or how it was grown.
of consumers know “nothing” or “very little” about farming or ranching according to a study conducted by the American Farm Bureau
of Americans say they never or rarely seek information about where their food was grown or how it was produced according to a 1,000 American participant study by Alliance for Science
Attending local farmers markets gives people a chance to interact with the others who are at the source and sometimes get a chance to learn a thing or two. According to the Farmer Markets Coalition
2015 survey, 4 out of 5
farmers discuss farming practices with customers and how they interact with the natural environment. Farmers markets serve as invaluable educational sites for people of all ages and are a rare bridge between urban and rural communities.
Interacting directly with those who grow and produce the goods that people buy also provides the largest sum of money to be put back into the farmers pockets. The Farmers Markets Coalition
states that “Farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents of every food dollar that consumers spend at traditional food outlets. At a farmers market, 100%
of your food dollar goes to your local farmer”. Farmers Markets help bridge the gap and reconnect people to their food communities.
Now that the need was explicitly defined, I began looking for relevant information in terms of competition. I started by researching where I could find farmers markets near me in Philadelphia on OpenMaps
. While this is a great resource, it was lacking images of the markets as well as community members' reviews. This led me to analyze my other competitor, Yelp
. While Yelp is a great source for reviewing businesses, I found it to be overwhelming with both too much irrelevant information, as well as not enough information about the markets themselves. The Yelp reviews of farmers markets are underwhelming and I was left wanting to know more about the markets and vendors. I had also found that some of the information was not up to date and misleading. This is the gap that Market Map aims to fill.
After reviewing my competition I was left with a few key takeaways:
- My users will need a map to visually see where the markets are located
- Community members want to know what their neighbors' reviews are of each market
- Implementing multiple methods to find markets will improve the accessibility of the platform - these methods include searching by keyword(s), exploring by map, or browsing by categories.
With these takeaways in mind, I began designing the product.
I learned a great deal while creating the first draft, specifically, I was able to find which key elements were missing. After presenting and testing in class, I began to note what was and was not working and where changes were needed.
After reviewing my first round of visual screen design I knew what to do.
- Exploring the map is helpful and users like how a preview of the map also lives within each market description
- Users wanted to see more information on the market, and want to be able to access reviews on what others have to say
- Correct and consistent use of color in text, strokes, and icons
With my update needs in mind, I began redesigning Market Map. I knew I wanted to keep the beet icon to show where markets could be found and to use the icon colors just a bit more sparingly. During this process, I learned when to use color to highlight important information and buttons, while at the same time accounting for accessibility.
At this stage, I added a hamburger bar for users to easily navigate to the initial pages - home, search, and signup/login. One of the changes that I implemented based on user feedback is the placement of the market's address. When a user opens the preview page of a farmers market, the address should be just below the name of the market. I relocated the “see hours” functionality and replaced it with a display of the overall rating (0-5 stars) of the market. This decision was informed by competitive research, testing, and showing the most important information to the users first.
I updated the market detail page to engage my users more while still showing them the same important information in a more user-friendly way. One way I did this was by only showing the user the time the market is open on that current day, and how many hours they have left until it closes. This decision also reduces bloat in the interface, while not removing the functionality itself. Users can still view all of the market's hours by tapping the “More Hours” button highlighted in pink. By making this change, users are not bothered with information that is not necessary.
I also added more customer-provided images and reviews to the market detail page. I implemented the functionality to add photos, reviews, update market information, as well as the ability to “favorite” a market.
My revisions reinforced the importance of when and where to use color, how to use the space and stack information hierarchy, and ensure the user can seamlessly navigate and find the information they need.
Creating this application on mobile platforms was my first step since it would provide the greatest value to my target market - a majority of users would be using Market Map while out and about in the city. While mobile was the most important to design, I didn’t want to leave out desktop users. Viewing this platform on multiple devices and screen types would allow users to explore markets in different ways. For example, on desktop when exploring the map, users can also view the market’s preview card at the same time. Optimizing screen real estate was one of the biggest drivers between designing for mobile and desktop.
The goal of my call to action was to increase awareness of the usefulness of this product. I created an advertisement campaign to live in frequented public spaces such as bus stops. The poster features a map of the city with beet pinpoints showing where markets can be found. At the bottom of the screen, people would find a QR code that they could scan to be directed to the mobile platform. Users can easily walk up to the map and view market locations, as well as scan the QR code.
This project taught me the importance of user-centered design. I got to learn and explore responsive screens, and how each one can be beneficial. I learned how to make better-informed decisions to make the design more digestible and easy to understand when lots of information and images are present.
I had a much shorter timeline than I was used to which forced me to work at a quicker pace. This changed my workflow and I prioritized making small changes that cause big improvements.