GroJo

A plant watering app

GroJo is an app I created to help urban dwellers with houseplants. The intention is to assist plant owners with watering and feeding schedules to alleviate the stress of winging it.

Watering Plants
Figure 1. Person watering houseplants.

PROBLEM:

I started to notice a lot of people in my community have a lot of houseplants but don't have the confidence and know-how to take care of them. They struggle with underwatering, overwatering and knowing when and how much to fertilize different plants. They often kill their plants and feel stressed about it.

GOAL:

My goal for this project was to create a platform to help alleviate the stress of not knowing when and how much to water houseplants. Studies have shown that houseplants improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress levels, and boost your mood. I wanted to address the shame and guilt I was hearing when talking to people about their plants, to clear the way for all the benefits of plants.

PROCESS:

For this project, I followed the 5 Planes of UX methodology. I determined this was the best course of action to help me focus on my goal as well as align my activities to address the user experience consistently.

01 STRATEGY:
Defining user needs and business objectives

As an avid houseplant owner, something I hear often is people worry about keeping their houseplants healthy and alive. I was hearing a lot of people talk about the shame that they have around how many plants they've killed, so they don’t keep them anymore. There appeared to be a trend towards not understanding watering cycles.


I conducted User Interviews and Research to determine what current plant watering structure exists.


The first step was to determine if there was an actual issue with watering. Being on a tight timeline, I opted to do some guerilla user research. I had casual conversations with people about their plant ownership and how confident they were that they were taking proper care of their plants. These conversations happened in the workplace, at parties and cafes. Once I ascertained that there was a significant enough issue, I conducted more formal user research, by way of survey, User Interview, and research in plant forums. While I was going through the research I discovered that a lot of people have a lot of plants and they want to be able to take care of them, but they're not sure where to find the information on how to take care of them. They couldn’t recall the last time they watered their plants, or how to know when the plants needed water. A lot of them were killing their plants and they thought that they were, because they were overwatering because that was a better alternative than under-watering.


Persona
Figure 2. Persona.

02 SCOPE:
Defining functional and content requirements

Comparative/Field analysis. While all of the apps I looked at had the scheduling function, it did not offer a schedule suggestion. This will still leave the user confused and second-guessing if they have the correct watering schedule. For this app to serve its purpose of reducing cognitive load and alleviate stress, there would need to be more intuitive features built-in.

I looked at two apps that had the functional requirements I was looking for, Plant Identification capabilities and Watering Schedules with notifications. Waterbot had the scheduling down nicely, I also appreciated the simplicity of it, albeit some of its usability was lost to this simplicity. For the plant identification aspect, I looked at Picture This, an app that using your camera to identify plants, it was pretty accurate during my testing.

03 STRUCTURE:
Interaction Design and Information Architecture

Creating a sitemap helped me organize information and determine which features would be an asset to create the journey intended for the user.


Aligning with my persona and goals, I determined the features to be included needed to be:

  1. Plant Identification via photo upload or searching easy to search list
  2. Watering and fertilizing suggestions based on species
  3. Scheduling capabilities based off app suggestions with the capacity to override and enter dates manually
  4. Connection to main calendars available

Persona
Figure 3. Site Map.
04 SKELETON:
Defining the visual form

I created Wireframes to organize and simplify my content and determine if there were any redundancies.


WireFrames
Figure 4. Wire Frames.
05 SURFACE:
Defining the visual style

I created more robust wireframes to start visualinzing where items needed to be.


Input Wireframes
Figure 5. Wireframes of Input screens.

Future Considerations

Create a more robust scheduling system: connect the Floral Feed and the Image Upload features into the scheduling flow. This will allow the User to move w/more ease as well as lessen the amount of steps needed to set up a schedule.
Integrate a Helpful Hints resource: GroJoe’rs can search for tips and tricks for their specific plants, ideally there will be community moderators to to communicate directly with. This will ensure the User can get access to as much information as possible w/out leaving the app.
More extensive testing of scheduling: this project had a short time line, which left little time for a deeper dive into the scheduling system. User testing to determine how much more extensive the Scheduling is useful, ie having a Text to Phone feature, if photo integration would be useful.

Date 2017
Type Mobile apps, Prototyping design