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Tradespace Analysis

UX User Flows

At JPL, I worked as part of a design and science team to create a human-centered system of hydrological indicators driven by NASA’s satellite data. The intent is to make this information accessible through a user-friendly platform to help improve the water community’s decision-making process. Big data has fueled ways to understand our nation’s water use as it relates to agricultural application. However, when considering the stakeholders of this system, we found that time and efficiency is lost in the details of assessing water through data. 

Using my work on this project as inspiration, I 

created personas based on my knowledge of these users and assessed the UI/UX usability of popular existing publicly available hydrological data 

platforms against the requirements of resource managers and agricultural producers.

Credit: Indicator Screens used on the right

NASA's Grace FO

LCRA Hydronet

California Data Exchange

USDA drought monitor

Google Maps

CIMIS - California Irrigation Management System

User Persona

Mike, Water Manager

Mike is a local water resource manager in the Central Valley of California.  He is responsible for allocating surface water supply for his district to local growers. Mike needs to know how much water supply is available to allocate and how much water is needed by his growers for irrigating their fields.


Use Case

Mike's initial water allocation is announced for 

the upcoming year from the federally managed water project. Mike has cropping schedules from his growers in for the season, so he knows what is being planted (demand.)


It is amounting to a dry year. He is interested in 

comparing the current year to similar historical 

years to help him forecast potential precipitation.He also closely monitors stream-flow from the local watersheds and builds this into his models.


Mike looks at hydrological information on his computer in his district office.

Data Needs

Creates his own forecast models, using data from platforms publicly available through local, state and federal agencies.

Goal: To access specific hydrological data from a publicly managed water project
UI Requirements

Simplified Visuals

  • Massive amounts of data make it difficult to separate useful insights from the noise.

  • Data Visualization should be glanceable

Intuitive Navigation

  • Data is the product, make it easy and fast to access

User Persona

Dale, Pistachio Grower

Dale is a progressive farmer operating in the Central Valley of California.  He is in the business of growing crops. As a business person, he is most concerned with his bottom line. Using best practices in farming technology and advanced data sources, he is conservation minded and practices efficiency toward growing crops. 


Use Case

Dale is in the planting and irrigation phase of his growing season.  During this time he needs to understand how much water to apply to his field.


Dale monitors evapotranspiration and soil moisture closely.  He views spatial maps and quantitative data graph, looking for abnormalities, to understand where more or less water is needed on his field.


Dale looks at hydrological information on mobile platforms in his field, in order to "ground truth" data on the ground.

Data Needs

Uses a combination of agency-provided data, local news, and personal metering technology. Looks at rainfall forecasts  during the growing season (February to Mid-August).  

Needs high resolution data at the crop-level.

Goal: To access crop-level data for his field, from a publicly managed platform
UI Requirements

Simplified Visuals

  • Massive amounts of data make it difficult to separate useful insights from the noise.

  • Data Visualization should be glanceable


  • Real time, actionable data accessible on  phone. 

  • Data should work offline for poor reception areas

Task Flow Steps
  1. Identify the type of data/indicator he is looking to access

  2. Match the correct source for this data 

  3. Visit the home screen of the data platform

  4. Log-In (Optional)

  5. Navigate to desired dataset

  6. Make selections within the dataset, based on desired parameters

  7. Visualization Populates

  8. Experience information

  9. Capture information

  10. Outside of app: apply information to decision making workflow

User Flow Overview

What are the usability requirements of water managers and growers in using hydrological platforms?


User flow

UI Tradespace Analysis

How do existing hydrological platforms meet the usability requirements of Water Managers?

Lower River Colorado Authority


UI: Easy to get to the indicator from the platform without much navigation.

Parameters are easily filtered within data visualization. 


Visualization: Both spacial map + table.  A map is the first read that user can click around on, a corresponding side bar menu offers hard numbers with the option to pop out as a separate window.


Friction Point: Unable to capture data via downloadable format. 


California Data Exchange Center



Visualization: Data is structured into a table by site.  User must know the site of interest, in order to make selection of data.

UI Friction point:  Platform requires user to click parameters and data sets from menu navigation. Unable to capture data via downloadable format.  User must read through long text to access clickable links.

California Irrigation Management Information System


UI:  Platform allows easy navigation from site menu that can be accessed directly from each data visualization.


Visualization Friction point: Data is made available as a raw number report, separating values from context (without visualization).  User must know their site of interest, in order to make selection of data and must sift through raw data to identify/interpret values they deem abnormal.

US Bureau of Reclamation


Visualization: Tools are easy to use, visualizations are clear and easy to access from site menu.


UI Friction point: Map and query indicator tools are related to each other, but not linked in a sophisticated way.  Although user can use map to send sites to query tool to get data, user must navigate each tool separately, in different windows to get meaningful information.

USBR Userflows.png
Design Opportunities



  • Complex navigation

  • Static interactions

  • Multiple, unrelated interaction points



  • "Data overload"




  • Intuitive UI

  • Dynamic interactions

  • Linked interactions points



  • Hierarchy/organization of information 

  • Contextualization of information 

Design Ideas

The following explore ways the UI can be designed in a more user-driven way.

Landing Page Wireframe


Landing page remembers the user's location as a precursor to the indicator product.

Indicator Page Wireframe

Indicator Page High Fidelity


Actionable data: Prevent "data overload " by showing when something is wrong.

Indicator page is organized so user can easily navigate to each indicator using the dashboard.

Better, simpler hierarchy of information makes information “more discoverable.”

Landing Page High Fidelity

Indicator Page High Fidelity

Indicator Page High Fidelity

Visualize data in multiple ways (graph + map) to contextual data, not just raw data.


Users need to be out in the field, indicator UI needs to be mobile-friendly

Responsive Web



Not having to interact with multiple independently-acting tools to access 

information, but independent tools that work together as a dynamic system

Dynamic Web Tools

Go to JPL Research

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