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Nectar

Enabling commercial beekeepers to extract critical insights about their bee colonies

Introduction

Nectar is a Montreal-based startup that’s committed to protecting bees, one of Earth’s most important organisms.

They came to us at a critical time during a transition of their design leadership. They needed help both with their software as well as with their design processes.

We worked on a number of projects across their platforms that would help both the commercial beekeepers manage their hives more efficiently while giving the workers the tools they need to report problems safely on their phones. BeeTrack is an application that’s installed on low powered Android phones and intended to be used while the workers are dressed in protective beekeeping gear. The managers have a portal where they are able to keep track of colonies and intervene in case of suffering hives that need treatment.

Nectar conducts their R&D in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture and several provincial governments in Canada.

Research + Strategy

We collaborated closely with beekeeping experts and studied the existing manual systems commercial beekeepers use.

By getting copies of the QR codes used on the hives, we were able to roleplay in a variety of contexts to get a sense of the challenges the workers experience. From this research we gathered the insights necessary to start going through rapid iterations with the Nectar team.

Together with engineering we delivered solutions that would respect the technical constraints unique to the QR code system and detailed backend implementations for the manager’s portal. This unlocked a key insight that sparked our redesign: provide Ground News users with more context and overviews as well as information about their social networks, to put the news in perspective. We streamlined the existing pages to highlight the most pertinent information and developed unique tools for social media and web browsers so that Ground News was less of a destination and more of an omnipresent news companion.

Design

Our proposed solutions were all deliberately minimalist, but provided critical increases in efficiency for the worker that reduced the amount of time on their phones in the field. For the manager’s portal we introduced a flexible new approach to designing tables in order to unify what the different dashboards are communicating, without disrupting the beekeeper’s existing workflows.

In addition to the evolution of the designs, Nectar was looking for a more collaborative approach to their work so we helped migrate their entire design system of over 200 components over to Figma. We consolidated all the files, and created a shared design system structure to help the company’s growing design team.

Impact

Nectar now employs a full design team that is leveraging our design system to continue to support beekeepers. We helped the team transition onto our work, and supported them as they launched our proposed solutions to their various apps and platforms.

Ground News

Reviving balanced conversations around the news by exposing political bias to news readers.

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