Where We’re at with Human Centered Design for the FBS App

Benefiting from human-centered design the Ghanaian start-up Agro Innova is currently developing an app for small-scale farmers trained on Farmer Business School (FBS)

The FBS approach was developed by the Sustainable Smallholder Agri-Business Programme. The FBS innova app will be used as a digital follow-up tool and aims to encourage farmers to apply newly gained business skills such as record keeping and farm management in their everyday work life to become agri-preneurs in practice.

To best customize the app to suit the needs of future users, Agro Innova had the opportunity to participate in a two-day workshop on the so-called human-centered design last year. Besides Agro Innova, stakeholders from a diverse set of organisation took part, i.e. staff of the Ghana Cocoa Board, the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture and from various GIZ projects. They contributed to the human-centered design process by sharing their different insights and perspectives for Agro Innova’s strategy.

What is human-centered design?

Human-centered design stands for a particular creative problem-solving approach. It was created to address certain deficits in digital tools which stem from the fact that they were developed for particular users without having consulted with them during creation. The approach helps to generate innovative ideas by focusing on future app users, in this case smallholder farmers. For best results, it is necessary to fully understand the target group’s situation from the outset and then design a product that fits their perspectives. The process is structured in three different phases: inspiration, ideation and implementation.

The inspiration phase looks at methods to learn about the context in which a product is created, its intended users and their needs. During the ideation phase, the insights are converted into ideas for design, testing, evaluation and improvement. Lastly, the implementation phase is the final realization of the ideas. These innovative, user-oriented and data-driven ideas contribute to solving challenges of the target group and can thus be a driver for transformative change and improvement of farmers’ livelihoods.

What happened during the workshop?

On day one of the workshop, the two trainers from DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration gave the participants an introduction to human-centered design principles and familiarized them with the respective tools. Human-centered design stands for a particular creative problem-solving approach (see ideo.org for more details).

On the second day, it was up to the participants to develop a concrete idea of how they can make use of the approach in the designing process of the FBS mobile application. In teamwork, each of the three working groups selected methods they considered effective for the application design and visualized them using a human-centered design process map. Taking into account many details, the teams subsequently presented and defended their results in front of the group.

Next steps

Agro Innova will make use of the ideas generated in the workshop and pilot the FBS application beginning of 2019. At first, the mobile application will be created for the value chain of cocoa in Ghana, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire. Later it can be adapted to suit the needs of other value chains and country settings.

Join the upcoming webinar of Sustainable Smallholder Agri-Business on the human-centred design approach. We’ll invite you.


For more information, please contact: fbs-facility@giz.de