Indoor Plants

Mobile App Design
My role:
UX/UI

User research,
Interviews

Persona development,
User journey map

Information architecture,
User flow,

Sketching,
Wireframing,
Prototyping

UI design

Usability testing

Overview

I designed Indoor Plants to ease those people who need some help to take care of their indoor plants. The app, indeed, helps the users to recognize, manage, and maintain their plants.

— The problems

  1. Have you ever received an unknown plant? If the answer is “yes”, you probably asked somebody for its name, or you looked for it on the web. Doesn’t it bother you when you can’t find the answer?
  2. Some people like having plants in their houses, but they are not able to take care of them. Others don’t have enough time to remember when to water them.

— The solutions

  1. What if there were an app that helps the people to find their indoor plant names quickly and efficiently?
  2. What if that app reminded them how many times a week they have to water the plants?

Design Process

The primary goal of this project was to truly understand the users who don’t have a green thumb. I wanted to find a set of solutions tailored to their specific needs. To do that efficiently, I applied a dynamic method that involves five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

Empathize with the users

I started the project doing some user research. I believe that understanding user feelings and thoughts is essential to develop a human-centered design. When I began working on the Indoor Plants app, I wanted to define the difficulties the people have when they fail to take care of their plants. 
— Interviews and probes
  • User interviews helped me to define what people do when they are in trouble with their plants. I asked them how they look for information and how they usually manage a suffering plant.
  • While interviews let me know about users’ thoughts and assumptions, a probe enabled me to clarify what they do when they face a problem. Since I am not able to take care of plants, I decided that I would be one of the testers. I asked my husband to get me a plant without giving me any information about it. So, I tried to find some data in complete autonomy, and I attempted to remember to water it.

Define the problem

Once I gathered some of the users’ difficulties, I began to synthesize the problem. First of all, I studied the data to define the project goal better.
— Personas development
  • I created an affinity diagram that helped me to identify and analyze the major themes in my data.
  • I designed the primary persona of a potential client.

Ideate solutions

I drew an empathy map to outline the users’ actions and thoughts. This kind of tool is excellent when you have to define the problem key points better.

— Points of view and new ideas
  • Studying the data, I defined some of the user’s leading needs:
    1. Understanding what kind of plant it is.
    2. Knowing if the plant is simple to handle.
    3. Getting information on watering and plant position.
    4. Knowing when she has to use antiparasitic and fertilizer.
    5. A recall that helps her to water the plant.
  • Here is the resulting consideration (POV Madlibs):
    An absentminded person needs to get information on how to properly handle a plant because she doesn’t have a green thumb.
— User Journey Map
  • I also defined a possible user journey to figure out how the fictional character may act to gain her needs.
— User flow
  • Once I analyzed the scenario, I outlined the user flow. This tool allowed me to imagine the ways the users might navigate through the app to achieve their goals. I used Figma to create the chart.

Prototype and Test

Then, I drew rough sketches to visualize ideas onto paper, and I created some prototypes using Balsamiq and Sketch.
— Paper sketches
  • The wireframing process enabled me to start defining the interface structure. I began challenging the project as well, looking for possible communication issues and trying to find a way to fix them.
— Low-fidelity prototypes
  • The low-fidelity prototypes allowed me to define better how the app would look. I also started to test the usability of the app to understand if it would be easy to use.
— Accessibility
  • I crafted a style guide to make the whole design consistent and unique. I also tested the color accessibility to be sure to provide a good user experience for all kinds of users.
— UI design and Test
  • I further defined the UI in Sketch. After I had tested the prototype I worked again on the design to improve its usability. For instance, I found that some icons would work better matched with a description label.
WHAT

Home / Plant description

WHY

I designed these pages to help users gain the following needs:

  1. getting information on the plant;
  2. knowing when she has to use antiparasitic and fertilizer;
  3. knowing if the plant is simple to handle.
HOW
  • Q) How might we let the user know the information on how to handle the plant? What if we provide some quick and easy to understand tips?
  • A)We may provide the user with the information she needs about watering, temperature, sun exposure, and humidity.
EXAMPLES
  1. Using simple icons to illustrate the user plant’s main features.
  2. Providing short and clear suggestions on how to take care of the plant.
WHAT

Camera / Search

WHY

Users’ need:

  1. understanding what kind of plant it is.
HOW
  • Q) How might we help the users to understand what kind of plant it is? What if we suggest to them to take a picture of the plant?
  • A) We may let the app find what type of plant it is. The users may use the camera or search options.
EXAMPLES
  1. The users can take a picture of the plant or select a photo from the gallery. The app can identify the plant and, then, propose the users some possible choices.
  2. They can also look for the plant using the search bar or a search filter pattern. A search by category is available as well.
WHAT

Calendar

WHY

The users need:

  1. a recall that suggests them to water the plant.
HOW
  • Q) How might we help them to remind watering the plant? What if we give them the possibility to add a calendar reminder
  • A) We may suggest to them how many times a week she has to look at the plant and water it.
  • Q) How might we remind them to water the plant? What if we define some gamification elements? 
  • A) We may send them a virtual reward when they remember to water the plant.
EXAMPLES
  1. Users get that they have to water a plant looking at the yellow button on the top of the main page and the calendar page.
  2. They can also customize the days and the hours during which they prefer to receive the advice.

LESSONS LEARNED

People need support to be more confident. When we bump into something that we don’t know, we need to find clear hints to understand how to manage it. When a person needs information about a plant he/she tends to ask for advice to a friend or to look for simple tips on the Internet (just to give an example).

For this reason, I designed Indoor Plants thinking of it as a sort of a “plant expert friend“.
A friend has a positive attitude and generally try to speak to you in a simple and clear way.
Also, a friend helps you when you need him/her.