B2C Mobile app for plant lovers to make plant care easy and effortlessly enjoyable
For plant lovers, caring for houseplants is more than just a hobby - it’s a powerful act of self-care. However, it can become a labor-intensive and stressful undertaking, especially when dealing with a large number of plants.
I am passionate about exploring ways to make houseplant care less daunting and more effortlessly delightful.
Caring for a collection of houseplants can be very fulfilling, and at times it can become stressful and time-consuming. We all go through moments of stress and anxiety at some point in our lives, and when our mental health suffers, so do our plants. My goal is to guide plant people to continue to love and care for their plants, regardless of life's ongoing challenges. By presenting strategic and practical solutions, I strive to ensure that caring for plants remains a pleasure rather than a chore, freeing us to prioritize our mental health.
The mobile application Plant Room intends to address the issues plant lovers go through in their plant care journey.
Users can set personalized reminders to ensure their beloved houseplants receive the attention they need when they need it
With the ability to create a digital catalog of their houseplants, users can conveniently track plant growth and manage individual needs. This tool provides effortless access to specific plant information and care recommendations, ensuring appropriate plant care is right at their fingertips
Users can also connect and engage with a community of fellow plant enthusiasts and gain access to a wealth of plant care knowledge
UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer
Plant care stress or burnout is a common topic in the plant care community. The plant hobby can certainly bring numerous mental health benefits, such as cultivating mindfulness and patience and establishing a grounding connection to nature. However, it's important to recognize that even this wholesome hobby can occasionally become overwhelming. This is a great reminder that balance is essential - even in good things.
Caring for plants can be as rigorous or as simple as we perceive it to be
Watching your plants thrive is a rewarding experience, yet the stress and frustration of failing to keep a particular species healthy and thriving can be equally impactful. To become successful plant parents, we have to balance this spectrum of experiences
We all experience stress - plant care demands can intensify stress and anxiety, especially when juggling life’s demands leads to forgetting plant care steps, like watering or fertilizing. The challenge lies in leveraging the benefits of plant care without letting it become another source of worry
Following preliminary research, I established a screener survey to identify five ideal interview candidates. Each participant was a passionate plant parent with at least six months of experience in houseplant care, possessing a genuine interest in promoting the well-being of their plants.
I then interviewed five participants from the screener process and gained invaluable insight. This part of my research served as a deep well of real-world data that allowed me to distill the information gained into affinity groups, empathy maps, and persona models - Helping me translate individual narratives into tangible, actionable ideas.
Key Interview Insights
A considerable number of respondents were excited about the possibility of a digital platform for cataloging their plants, much like a plant diary. Many had attempted to create one independently but found it to be too cumbersome and time-consuming
Participants viewed plant care as a type of therapy where you nurture other living beings, not all that different from taking care of a pet. They emphasized that plants, too, need love and attention
There was a notable correlation between the investment in a plant and the stress associated with its survival. Opting for less expensive plants was a common strategy to alleviate this
While they agreed that there's a correlation between stress and plant neglect, the overall sentiment conveyed was that caring for plants positively impacts mental well-being
Through my interactions, I successfully pinpointed six main insights to generate my affinity maps, that encapsulate the core learnings from my findings:
User’s Plant knowledge - types of information users commonly search for online related to plant care
“Why we love plants” - underlying motivations that drive users to care for plants, which helped shape solutions for the problem I aimed to address
User’s Challenges with plant care - areas users wished to improve or acquire more knowledge about in plant care
Identifying gaps in the houseplant community - what kind of experiences users have when interacting with fellow plant lovers online and their thoughts on connecting with other fellow plant people
Plants and Mental Health - to understand user perspectives on the symbiotic relationship between plant care and mental well-being
Plant App Experience and Ideas -to help make more informed decisions about unique features that could set a new plant app apart from its competitors
Creating affinity maps helped me further understand my user's pain points, and their goals when it comes to plants, as well as their thoughts and feelings on plant care. Moving forward, I identified two distinct user categories within the plant care community for my empathy maps: the meticulous “Plant Nerds”, and the more laid-back “Low-Maintenance Plant Peeps”.
I created two personas based on the user categories identified in my empathy maps. By stepping into my user’s shoes, I was able to have a deeper understanding of my user's needs, helping align my intentions for my design with their specific plant care objectives and aspirations, ultimately facilitating my goal to create a product that is truly tailored to a plant lover’s needs.
The research process has been valuable in keeping me focused and reinforcing the importance of what matters most: the user and their needs. It is exciting to be at the turning point of problem-solving and innovation. Research has fuelled my commitment to making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Even if it’s just a plant app.
Through my research process, I was able to dive into the user's pain points and drafted a series of "How Might We" statements, providing a focused starting point for the ideation process.
How Might We...
Help people feel more confident they’re taking good care of their houseplants?
Make it easier for plant people to connect with other fellow local plant lovers?
Help people create a record of their own plant collection digitally?
Help people track their plant care schedule?
Help people remember when to water and fertilize their houseplants?
Support people and their plants during stressful times?
It was finally time to start the ideation process, to brainstorm and sketch out a plethora of ideas. This broad ideation pool enabled me to handpick the most possible effective solutions to address the user’s problems.
Utilizing User Stories helped me select and prioritize the most important features of my application according to the user's needs. It helped me think of creative ways to enhance the utility and benefit of the application for the users.
I created a Site Map that allowed me to visually organize the structure of my plant app. My focus was on prioritizing essential content, aiming to start building my app from a concise place and doing my best to ensure a seamless and logical user experience from the beginning.
This phase of the journey allowed me to map out the necessary steps a user would need to undertake to utilize the three core features of the app: adding a new plant, joining a local plant group, and setting a watering reminder. This understanding formed the foundation for my initial sketches and facilitated the envisioning of the potential interface design.
Choosing to go with pen and paper for my initial rough sketches allowed me to feel more loose and creative, letting me express my ideas freely and quickly down onto the paper, more so than the precision of using a digital medium. Though these sketches were far from perfect, they provided me with a glimpse into the potential of my concepts and enabled a rapid evaluation process. This allowed me to discard those ideas that seemed promising in thought but fell short upon visual realization.
I used Figma to transition from rough hand-drawn sketches to low-fidelity wireframes. Since at this point there’s no color involved, I tried to aim for simplicity as much as possible, as I mapped out the main functionality of the app, keeping the Laws of UX in mind, to help guide my interface decisions.
Brand Platform + Mood Board
Creating a mood board helped me brainstorm with a kaleidoscope of colors and styles. I played with the idea that just because it’s a plant app, does it have to be green? I am intrigued by imagery that mixes styles of photography with illustration, and hand-drawn elements. These hybrid forms of visual expression help create an authentic, fun, and joyful UI experience, which I want to bring into Plant Room.
Creating a Style Guide helped me stay consistent and focused to effectively communicate my ideas. I wanted the colors to stay somewhat simple and to spark joy and fun. I came to terms with the green, because I loved the way it contrasted with bright orange and light purple. In terms of typography, I chose a more fun font for the headers and something clean and simple for bodies of text for readability.
High Fidelity Screens
After many iterations, I finally got to design my hi-fi screens. My main goal here was to create an interface bubbling with fun and joy while keeping the functionality simple and easy to use.
While maintaining the core elements from my wireframes, I refined visual aspects, such as corner radius and color applications
My design featured an innovative button that visually "presses" upon interaction, enhancing user engagement with a playful twist
Although I introduced unconventional shapes, particularly in reminder cards, to visually elevate the application, I retained familiar functionalities—such as the reminder setting screen and community pages—mirroring native reminder and social media apps to preserve user-friendly familiarity amidst the innovative design
The prototyping process allowed me to interact with the app, by simulating real user experience, allowing me to fully understand the interface’s functionality and make changes on what needed to be improved.
Usability testing helped me shine a light on any potential issues in the user’s journey through the design, mitigating the risks of frustration and confusion. I selected five participants and usability testing was conducted either in person or via Zoom. By observing how users navigate, I gained invaluable insights that helped me revisit and improve the user experience, ensuring a more pleasant and seamless interaction with the app.
Will users easily be able to understand and complete tasks?
Will there be frustrations or confusion in trying to add a new plant to the Collections?
Will users agree with my ideas and intentions for the app’s visual design, of joy, fun, simplicity, and delight?
Are the wordings used in the Navigation bar elements clear and intuitive?
Add a new plant to the app
Set a water reminder
Join a local plant group
Overall, all of the users tested found Plant Room easy to use and found that the app’s visuals were pleasing and fitting to the nature theme. Testing allowed me to identify a few issues to address.
By incorporating feedback received from user testing, I updated and redesigned my screens to arrive at my final optimized UI design.
The dropdown button on the Plant ID screen was confusing and interrupted the completion of the flow.
Most users found the way to ‘add plant info’ option was presented didn’t make sense, and it was distracting while trying to complete the task
Solution: Delete the ‘add plant info option from the Plant ID screen. The main goal of the flow is to add a new plant, so by letting the user save the plant to the app first, they complete the flow. After that, they have the option to add their own plant’s information on the next screen, if they desire to do so.
Users desired to see confirmation that they had joined a group.
All of the 5 users were able to complete the flow, but were also unsure if they had completed it - had to scroll down the screen a few times feeling like they missed something
Even though they clicked on the ‘join’ button before seeing the group profile, users needed more reassurance that they completed the task
Solution: Add a badge under the group name that says ‘joined’ to clear out any confusion.
Users want a search function when adding a new plant to the app.
Users appreciated the immediate camera access for plant picture capture within the app
However, the majority also voiced their wish for a plant search option
One user proposed a search function for creating a wishlist collection, as you might not yet have the plant and, consequently, lack a photo of it
Solution: Incorporate a search feature in the 'add new plant' screen.
This project helped me grow in appreciation for the research process, which proved invaluable in ensuring a user-centered approach to designing the application. It allowed me to step outside my preconceptions and perceptions, and let the initial phases of research and focus drive the vision for the final product. It also served as a reminder that in design, the term "final" is often not an endpoint, as design inherently invites continuous iteration and enhancement. Impermanence is the only constant.
A particular highlight during this project was the branding aspect—exploring color palettes, curating visuals, and crafting a style guide. My passion for visual design found its true expression in reimagining the screens, brainstorming fresh ways to present information, and striving to simplify the user interface without compromising its fun and engaging appeal.
Overall, this journey has reignited my passion for UX and UI design while also nurturing my inherent love for plants. It has been a powerful reminder that at its core, design is a symbiosis between form and function, aesthetics and utility.