watch your head! this project is under construction :-)
Product Design, Research,
Design System, Prototyping
The idea derived from Liqi’s research on pollinator gardening and the struggles of gardeners in adopting the practice into mainstream. Pollinators are essential for food production and creating our natural landscapes. I found the idea refreshing to use design & technology to inspire for more biodiversity within Toronto.
Anecdotally, we knew of the challenges that people have as beginner gardeners. The overwhelming feeling of learning something new and the struggle of keeping houseplants alive. Thus, we wanted to find a way to introduce the practice to more people to create more green spaces for pollinators.
A mobile app that connected beginner gardeners to seed resources, mentorship, and local events.
Upon our onboarding, users are can discover their hardiness zone to receive personalized and localized guidance.
Provides blueprints that allows users to visualize and test potential garden configurations with localized plant recommendations.
Connect users to the plants they need through seed trades/giveaways, easily introducing them to the gardening community within the city.
With access to a broad database, users have access to information such as specific planting instructions/conditions to enable their knowledge of pollinator gardening.
Connect users to nearby events or volunteer opportunities in public gardens (pollinator-specific or otherwise) and encourage real-life mentorship.
We followed the Double Diamond model to guide our design process, alternating between diverging and converging thoughts as we moved through the 4 stages.
We analyzed strengths and weaknesses from top 4 contenders in the market.
The primary reason for lack of adoption in many of these apps were that none of them offered personalized guidance beyond the overwhelming amount of textual information. The learning was completely based on reading vast paragraphs and had little companionship to teach them through practice, leaving the gardeners to decipher on their own as to what is relevant information and what's not.
From our desk research, we were able to identify two distinct user groups and their respective needs on the spectrum of gardening experience.
Aspiring gardeners and gardeners who do not currently engage in pollinator-friendly practices
Experienced gardeners who engage in pollinator-friendly practices
To address needs from both ends of the spectrum, we developed 2 separate surveys and promoted them through various channels (e.g. emails of PollinateTO grant recipients, Facebook groups, student discords). In total, we received 99 anonymous responses.
The results from the survey were grouped by theme which helped to identify the reoccurring impediments to people’s gardening journey.
Sorting through the results from our survey, we realized we lacked a strong narrative that could tie all the themes together. We had quantifiable obstacles to starting a garden but we didn’t understand the deeper why behind our user's actions.
Once we identified the gaps in our research from our affinity map, we sought to answer them through 1:1 talks with select respondents of our surveys. In total, we interviewed 5 people (2 beginners and 3 experts).
A reoccurring theme that came up was being introduced to gardening by family members or mentor-figures. This led us to assume that people are more likely to develop an interest and commitment to gardening if they’ve been exposed to an expert and learn through oral tradition.
Gardeners recalled that through participating in seed-trading, sharing of knowledge, diagnosing problems from expert within the community (most commonly via Facebook groups), they were able to quickly progress in their own learning.
As gardeners move from beginner to experienced, they start to take on a mentorship role to support new beginners. Expert gardeners reported willingness and joy in being able to share the lessons they've earned to beginner gardeners to reciprocate back into the community.
From our insights, we realized that the normal progression from beginner to expert gardener relies on knowledge built over time and self-studying. But what if there was a way to build rapport and mentorship from day 1 by highlighting the resources available across the community?
"How might we connect beginner gardeners with resources & mentorship to overcome the learning curve with starting a pollinator garden?"
In order to clarify the needs and pain points of our users, we used personas to represent individuals from both user groups.
While our primary group was the beginner group, it was important to account for the needs of the expert gardeners (group B) as they evolve with more experience.
A journey map was used to empathize the steps our users take to start their garden in order to identify opportunities where our solution can support their process.
From our journey map, we were able to come up with the following requirements:
Garden Planner (& ability to save different configurations)
Plant care reminders
Accounting for delivery time, a priority matrix was used to highlight what was the most essential. This helped us evaluate what was required for the minimum viable product against features that could be implemented for the future.
Finally, we created user flows to string the entire experience together.
Through the use of lo-fi wireframes, various options were tested and iterated upon to ensure an intuitive, readable, and seamless user experience.
We created the style guide to emanate the warmth of a mentor, gently guiding users along their gardening journey. The app carries a comforting and accommodating tone of voice, providing an educational and helpful experience for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.
Extending the style guide, I created a versatile family of scalable and interactive components that maintain visual coherence and enhance readability on mobile devices.
Below are some selected high-fidelity mocks utilizing the design system, emphasizing interactive hierarchy and a seamless flow across the experience.
This is the first time I worked intensively with another designer for a passion project. As Liqi and I have complementary skills to each other, we collaborated seamlessly to generate and develop ideas.
The journey didn't always consist of sunshine. We ran into tricky situations regularly in our design process. To counter this, we asked challenging questions towards each other’s designs and assumptions. We openly communicated our thoughts and struggles to unblock each other without judgement. In the end, we were able to weave our ideas harmoniously together to ensure proper integration of all the flows within our common system.
To develop this project further, we are exploring usability testing with target users to ensure the experience is coherent and usable to more people.