Findability aspects in Family Farming digital information environments

Family Farming is attracting interests of multiples actors of society and comprises a set of several rural activities that are managed and operated by a family and predominantly dependent on family hand labor. In Brazil, this kind of activity has an important role in food production, representing 84% of all rural establishments.

Linked with the relevance of the subject, there is a growing interest that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) permeates these areas, amplifying access to information by farmers and bringing benefits to rural practices and increasing their competitive factor.

This interest is observed through actions promoted by institutions such as governments, NGOs, private institutions, and universities. Concomitantly, the Pro-Rectorate of University Extension from São Paulo State University has several outreach projects on this subject on its rolls and, among them, the extension project Digital Skills for Family Agriculture (CoDAF), with a purpose to provide alternatives to mitigate factors that difficult access to information by family farmers.

However, the use of ICT, associated with a low educational profile of Brazilians farmers, promotes not only concerns with aspects such as the access to content available on websites built for this kind of public but also raises questions like how information is available; and the way its users find the information contained therein.

To Morville (2005), this kind of ‘ease’ of a user to find information about something or someone in a particular environment is called findability. Vechiato and Vidotti (2014) proposed a findability evaluation model to information environments with recommendations that should be considered in the strategy, the development and the maintenance of these environments, to achieve a better level of findability of information by the public.

In this scenario, the objective of this work was to identify points of attention related to the findability of information on websites with a set of users that includes family farmers. The universe of this research was bordered on the structure and all content available through CoDAF website in December’14.

This paper carried out an exploratory analysis, identifying elements on the website and in their source code that enables to validate recommendations settled on findability evaluation model, towards to a better findability of information in CoDAF website. The exploratory analysis was divided into five steps, namely: i) storage of log of users’ activities, ii) navigation structure, iii) contents layout, iv) presentation of content on mobile devices and v) metadata. On all steps, the collected data from the website was used to observe all the findability recommendations, and then results were divided into ten categories.

The results determined that only four categories partially fulfilled findability recommendations. The conclusion results from a systematical observation strategy that concentrates five aspects that need to be considered in Family Farming websites: a) a generalization of the information contained in items on navigation structures; b) concerns about visual hierarchy navigation structures with sub-levels; c) minimizing a use of different structures in layouts content; d) aspects related to user’s participation improvement on information available; e) use of descriptive metadata.

Keywords: Information and Communications Technology. Information Findability. Family Farming. Information Science.

Authors

  1. Fernando de Assis Rodrigues
  2. Elaine Parra Affonso
  3. Fernando Luiz Vechiato
  4. Silvana Aparecida Borsetti Gregório Vidotti
  5. Ricardo César Gonçalves Sant’Ana

Full text available at

  1. 68th World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR)
  2. Research Gate
  3. Academia.edu

Presentation

Fernando de Assis Rodrigues, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., is a researcher at São Paulo State University (UNESP), Brazil.

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