A crew member of Nothing is capturing the complex relationships between the different parts of the Agate portal on a whiteboard.

Usable and accessible: The Agate portal of the Federal Office for Agriculture

21.03.19

Together with the Federal Office for Agriculture, we revised the Agate agricultural portal, which is used by roughly 100 000 people. Our focus was on usability and accessibility.

The essentials in a nutshell

  • The highly-used Agate portal of the Federal Office for Agriculture was radically simplified in order to make it easier to use for both agricultural and government staff.
  • Nothing accompanied the project from context analysis to final implementation through research, design and frontend services.
  • In particular, we helped make the Agate portal accessible (WCAG level AA).

The project

Agate (“Agriculture, Animaux, Alimentaires”-gate) is the central portal of the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), serving as an entry point to various systems used to, for example, collect data for animal disease legislation. The portal is used by more than 100 000 people, reaching from farmers to horse owners to administrative staff at the federal and cantonal level. Working together with various stakeholders of the FOAG, we reduced the complexity of the portal. Our focus was on usability and accessibility in order to make the portal easier to use for both agricultural users as well as administrative staff.

A word from our client

Wiebke Egli from the Federal Office for Agriculture says about our collaboration:

Owing to the early involvement of and frequent testing with future users, we were able to significantly reduce the complexity of the portal and optimise various processes. The employees of Nothing AG started the project with open-ended stakeholder interviews. The different needs and requirements had to be balanced against many restrictions tied to federal regulations and processes. Thanks to the shared understanding gained during the course of the project and the good collaboration between all parties involved, the project was implemented very successfully (in terms of time, budget, and quality). The result speaks for itself and the work of Nothing AG.

Our work in detail

  1. We started with a context analysis. Based on analytics data and interviews, we identified different user groups, specified requirements of departments and together with our client, created a clear understanding of how the different facets of the portal are connected.

  2. Based on this research, we developed a design strategy that took into account the needs of the users as well as those of the different federal, cantonal and municipal departments involved. A key factor during the design work that followed was that our main contact at the FOAG was able to provide feedback directly in our design prototype.

  3. During the iterative design process, we validated our approach with different people who corresponded to the user groups we had identified. Once again, this process showed how important it is to involve real users in order to challenge assumptions and discover new aspects. For example, by only looking at analytics data, we could not have deduced that sometimes it’s not the actual farmers who access the portal, but rather their computer-savvy acquaintances.

  4. Finally, we implemented the design in close collaboration with ISCeco, the IT service provider of the Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. In particular, we coached ISCeco on accessibility and helped the project reach WCAG level AA. The accessibility of the portal is currently being reviewed by the foundation “Access for all”.

Do you have further questions about the project or our offering in general? Get in touch with Manuel Zehnder (meta@nothing.ch).