PLANTR

UX/UI Design / Research / Branding / Wireframing / Prototyping
2021

Background

I started this project inspired by the growing local online plant exchange community. As the community works in a very unstructured and chaotic way, I wanted to examine ways to turn it into a more personalized and seamless experience and set up users for a long-term success with their decisions. Through research, I discovered that the problem in the first place is poor plant selection due to spontaneous and uninformed shopping decisions.

Goals

Creating an end-to-end application that allows to get plant recommendations adapted to personal preferences and local conditions thus minimizing poor shopping decisions and plant deterioration.

Problem

Plant selection can be overwhelming and lead to poor choices that end up in plants deteriorating and wasted budget. As plants thrive in specific surroundings, part of making a good selection is making it fit within the personal space, preferences and conditions of the house. Part of the problem is the spontaneity factor when shopping for plants that adds to the poor decision-making.

My Impact

For this project I validated the need for the original product I had in mind and leveraged data from the research to create an end-to-end product as a solo designer.

Research

Goals

Below are the areas I’d like to explore during the user research.
I want to understand:

  • The patterns behind the plant purchasing process
  • What are the user’s motivations behind the specific purchases
  • The context in which the users seek for information on plant care
  • The user’s goals when searching for plant-related information

Methodologies

Secondary research on top products related to plant maintenance to determine the gap in the market.
In-depth user interviews with 6 Millennials plant enthusiast who started and want to grow their collection to validate the assumptions I had on the plant care and exchange habits.

Competitive Research

For this  part of the project I decided to explore top rated app care plants and compare key features and see what problems they address. I discovered that almost all of them provide basic care plant advice user can access after purchasing the plant, in most of cases after getting premium access.

No apps offer much of free content aimed at helping the users grow their plant collection, plant exchange community and getting advice during the purchase or research phase. As I’d like to set my users for the long-time success, I realized that can be achieved by designing a product, that addresses the problems that occur before the purchasing decision. Synthesized data from the user interviews only confirmed that assumption.

User Interviews

Research synopsis

I was surprised to learn that most of the users (even experienced plant owners) tend to make spontaneous decisions that are influenced easily by external factors, such as what they see on their social media feed, unplanned purchases at the supermarkets while doing their regular grocery shopping, or browsing for fun in free time without a better idea of what they’re looking for. This led me to discover that what would help the users to set them for the long-term success, would be to help them make informed decisions before the purchase.

Pivot!

The insights from the user interviews gave me confidence in the direction I need to go with this project and a need that can be addressed with a main product feature. It looks like the availability and accessibility of new plants or support in exchange isn't a problem (or could be addressed later), while the users can be helped now with minimizing poor decisions while shopping spontaneously.

Define

User Persona

After I compiled the outtakes from the research into the affinity map, I was able to create a persona that represents the main user group.

Use Scenario

After creating my persona, I decided to place her in a specific situation when she can use the product. The primary use case was inspired by synthesized research from the user interviews, competitive analysis showing the niche in the market, and a persona I could fully emphatize with.

The MVP allows to make informed decisions before purchasing a plant to set the user for the long-time success by matching a plant with their needs and requirements, and allowing the user to minimize spontaneous unfortunate purchases, thus saving the budget.

Ideation

Feature Prioritization

After realizing what solution would bring the most value for my users, I decided to take it a step further and brainstorm the ideas for the actual features. I want the app to be easy to use on the go, while shopping - it requires an easy interface, streamlined onboarding and access to the main feature. The research part provided me with enough info to determine which features will bring low vs. high value to the user.

Initial Task Flows

After having defined the features of the app, I created flows for the main tasks.

User Flow: Launch the app to see if the plant is a good match
This user flow assumes the user is using the app for the first time

Task: Check on the progress on the bird of paradise plant in your collection

Task: Add a plant you already own to your collection

Task: Set additional search filters

App Navigation

Based on the user flow, task flows and feature roadmap, I designed the simple app map that’s functional and easy to navigate.

Lo-fi Wireframes

The first version of lo-fi wireframes allowed me to run early usability tests and discover the priority revisions that need to be implemented ASAP. That decreased the number of iterations to the later versions with all effort being put into creating the hi-fi interface.
The version below includes iterations made mainly to the information architecture and microcopy such as:

  • Change the word “site” to “room” as “site” implies a big space to the users
  • Implement a plant adaptation progress tracker
  • Add a list of recommended plants in case of a mismatch

UI Kit

I created the UI kit that reflects PLANTR brand adjectives. As the name of the app is PLANTR, it helps the user fill their real planters.

Prototype & Test

Usability Testing

I tested the first version of the prototype with 5 users to determine the necessary revisions to make the overall experience more intuitive and pleasant. Here are some outtakes.

Main pain points that were discovered during the tests and addressed in the iteration:

  • Users had problems interpreting some of the prompts in the onboarding/filer stages
    Fix: add copy explaining what an air-purifier or pet friendly plant is
  • Users may have issues remembering the directions their windows face
    Fix: Added prompts with the sunlight times suggestions
  • Only one picture of a plant doesn’t give a full idea of what’s expected
    Fix: More pictures of each plant type in the match section and suggestions

Conclusion

While working on this project I learned to really trust the research and discovery process as I started working on it with a very different assumption and initial idea on how to solve the problem. In the end I needed to satisfy different user need, that wasn't in fact the chaotic plant exchange culture, but the decisions user make in the first place. I learned to not get too hung up on the solution and be flexible with the ways of solving the problem. It's great to have the general ideas and inspirations - the process of the idea evolution can take us much further. Creating a virtual marketplace (the original idea) can be developed down the road with more time and resources. I believe that minimizing poor shopping decisions in the end is fixing the problem at the core.