Key Dates

                  12 February - Launch Event
                  11 June - Standard Deadline
                  20 August - Final Deadline
                  27 August - Judging
                  3 September - Winners Announced
                  20 October - Awards Presentation

                  Sheep Genetics Search Tool [DRAFT]

                  Image Credit : Tigerspike



                  Project Overview

                  The Sheep Genetics Search Tool is a responsive website designed for livestock farmers to view Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs); the central language used to estimate the genetic merit of sheep. The website leverages a database of 6.5 million animals, allowing users to make informed, data-led decisions regarding the genetic direction of their flocks.

                  Working with Tigerspike, a user-centred approach was adopted to define the tool’s user experience. Travelling across Australia, workshops, interviews and on-farm visits were conducted with breeders, producers and livestock consultants. The objective of the user research was to understand the context in which industry members used ASBV data to make on-farm decisions.

                  Feedback from industry members informed design concepts that were tested with industry members and Sheep Genetics staff. The concepts were refined over several iterations before the feature set and visual identity were prepared for the tool’s initial MVP release.

                  Delivered as an agile program, the website was launched in August 2020. The tool provides Australia's sheep industry with a professional, intuitive tool that helps users feel more confident understanding the benefits of ASBVs. The tool will be a valuable addition to livestock farmers and help maximise the growth and development of the Australian sheep industry which is worth $5 billion annually.

                  Project Commissioner

                  Sheep Genetics

                  Project Creator



                  Peta Bradley
                  Ermias Zerazion
                  Caris Jones
                  Gus Rose
                  Daniel Brown
                  Hamish Chandler
                  Clara Bradford
                  Matt Alishah
                  Sussan Deng
                  Carolyn Pearce
                  Morris Mendoza
                  Karim Jlil
                  Moha Alsouli
                  Mike Cripps
                  Zohreh Koolivand
                  Izabela Kardasz
                  Usha Ananthaswamy
                  Lachie Wallman
                  Alex Cifone
                  John O'Grady

                  Project Brief

                  The origin of the project was Sheep Genetics' decision to redesign the existing Search Tool. The existing tool was 12 years old and was increasingly becoming a barrier to drive increased adoption of ASBVs amongst industry members. The key objectives of the brief was improving the usability and performance of the website.

                  From a usability standpoint, the goal was to redesign the tool’s front-end interface so that it simplifies the process for industry members to access and interpret ASBV data. Providing users with increased flexibility and customisation was important to cater for the spectrum of experience levels across the three user groups: breeders, producers and livestock consultants.

                  From a performance standpoint, the goal was to improve the speed of the website. Search results were often slow to load, causing frustration amongst users. The speed was influenced by the age of the underlying technical components of the existing tool. Developing a new tool allows Sheep Genetics to leverage contemporary technologies to optimise performance.

                  Project Need

                  The catalyst for the project was the usability and performance limitations of the existing Search Tool. The existing tool played a crucial role driving adoption of ASBVs over the past decade, however it was increasingly becoming a risk for the Sheep Genetics business.

                  From a usability perspective, experienced users had become accustomed to the interactions and feature set, however for less experienced users, that were new to ASBVs, it was a steep learning curve to onboard and use the tool. This created overhead for the Sheep Genetics business to educate users on steps to get started and nuances of the tool’s interactions.

                  Developing a more intuitive tool will streamline the process to onboard new users. This is important, as Sheep Genetics can now spend more time on adoption initiatives for ASBVs. In turn, this will increase awareness and use of the new Search Tool, and more broadly contribute to Meat & Livestock Australia's* goal of increasing genetic gain and on-farm productivity.

                  Furthermore, the new tool was part of a broader digital transformation program that Sheep Genetics undertook throughout 2019/20. Running in parallel were two other projects that focused on moving the organisation's infrastructure to the Cloud and corporate website to a new CMS platform. This program is crucial to support the long-term future of their digital assets and provide a scalable environment that can continue to be enhanced to meet user needs.

                  *Sheep Genetics is business unit if MLA

                  User Experience

                  The user experience was informed by a comprehensive 5-month consulting engagement. A multidisciplinary team (UX, visual designers and tech) was appointed to work with Sheep Genetics and industry members. Embedding design early in the consulting process was important because a key requirement for the project was assessing additional options to visualise and interact with ASBV data in the front-end interface.

                  To date, ASBV data had been presented in a large, table format. Sheep Genetics acknowledged the table format could be confusing for new users. Furthermore, learning styles and comprehension levels varied amongst industry members. Therefore it was important to assess what alternate options could be included to support the conventional table format.

                  A heuristic review of the existing tool was conducted, as well as research of other genetic evaluation tools. We observed that data was often presented as a ‘wall of data’ that’s overwhelming to interpret. Furthermore, industry tools across had limited filtering and customisation features to assist users refine results specific to their farming operation.

                  Taking the above insights into consideration, as well as feedback from user research, the solution design for the new Search Tool was informed by the below pillars:

                  - Simplify the tools, language and descriptions;
                  - Build trust through a consistent design language;
                  - Provide improved onboarding and education content;
                  - Improved information display of ASBV data; and
                  - Cater for different experience levels

                  Project Marketing

                  Throughout the consulting and delivery phases, Sheep Genetics kept industry members updated on the project’s progress via email campaigns and industry events. Regular communication was crucial to the success of launching the new Search Tool. It was important to demonstrate that users' feedback contributed to the project. This built a sense of ownership and excitement as users could envisage the benefits the new Search Tool would deliver.

                  In preparation for the tool’s launch, educational material was prepared to guide users on the steps to transition to the new Search Tool and overview of the product's key features. Promotion of the tool will be further supported by industry media, online webinars and workshops during the initial months of the launch.

                  Project Privacy

                  This project was executed in line with the following organisational policies:

                  - Sheep Genetics Privacy Policy;
                  - Sheep Genetics Terms & Conditions; and
                  - Meat & Livestock Australia’s Cookies Policy.

                  Open to apps in all categories with updates and developments that truly enhance the user experience and take your app or service to another level.
                  More Details