The Garden Mum

The Garden Mum is a plant identification and plant care iOS app.  She helps you come up with a plant care schedule and also reminds you to perform the care tasks for each plant so that your home garden is happy and healthy.

THE CHALLENGE

Design a mobile (iphone) application to provide accurate plant / weed identification along with automated detailed planting guide,  maintenance tasks and reminders for each plant. 

BACKGROUND

A garden, no matter how small it is, requires a lot of care and maintenance ​to keep the plants healthy and happy. Nurturing a plant is like nurturing a child: it needs time, attention, nutrition and healing when sick. A plant parent needs the right information at the right time, like plant identification, care tasks, problem diagnosis and solutions and a detailed planting guide. 

TIMELINE

4 weeks

This is a capstone project done to practice designing an iOS application

THE DESIGN PROCESS

Click on a box from the slider below in order to directly jump to that section. 

 

RESEARCH

MARKET RESEARCH

Market Research was done twice - before and after the user research.  I started with doing a general survey to understand the variety of planting apps available in the market, and the problems they solve. After the user research, I focussed on those gardening apps that were approaching and attempting to solve the problem of plant identification and care. I identified the strengths and weakness of the direct and indirect competitor products. 

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USER RESEARCH

GOAL

To understand my users in the role of a gardener and their activities and experiences in the field

GOAL

To understand and study the pain points and unmet needs of the users in their existing process of gardening

RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS

Avid gardeners who grow various flowering, non flowering, fruit bearing and vegetable crops in different seasons through out the year

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RESEARCH SYNTHESIS

MARKET RESEARCH

Good Design: Each plant identified result comes with a detailed plant information and care guide

Plant Identification feature should not be tightly coupled with adding the plant in your garden. The user has a choice of only identifying the plant and adding it to the garden if he wants

A super rich  and authentic data source for the plants is necessary

Stay away from the feature where data is sourced from the community

The plant care tasks and reminders are pretty basic in terms of experience in the apps I researched

USER RESEARCH

I interviewed 3 users who were avid and active gardeners. Persona Creation, Empathy Mapping and Storyboarding was done in order to empathize with them and understand their needs in depth. 

PERSONA

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SAMEER

I currently maintain an excel sheet with rows as the the plants and  the months as the columns and use color coding to differentiate each task that needs to be done for the plant.  I still forget many tasks as I do not have time to follow up!

ARCHETYPE

Passionate and organized gardener with a full time job and a family

PAIN POINTS

  1. Hunting for quality information amongst several sources 

  2. Timely identification of weeds and pests

  3. Identifying the problem with the plant and finding the solution for it

  4. Remembering the schedule for various tasks for maintaining the plant health: water, fertilize, prune etc.

MOTIVATIONS

  1. Stress relieving hobby

  2. Happiness from eating our own home grown food

  3. Understand the hard work that goes into producing your own food

  4. Engage children in the process of gardening

  5. Enjoy a happy and well kept garden

UNMET NEEDS

  1. Automated plant care schedule with regular alerts for each task

  2. Auto generated planting guide from pre-sowing to post-harvesting phase

  3. Easily and efficiently getting:

    • correct answers about what is wrong with the plant

    • variety of solutions to solve the problem with the plant

  4.  Sudden / Unpredictable weather changes: notifications + suggestions​

EMPATHY MAPPING

DOING

What does a typical day look like for Sameer?

Going to work for a full time job ~ 8 hours per day

Gardening

Reaching out to other gardening enthusiasts online with questions

Spending time with family

Making trips to the nursery to buy soil, fertilizer etc.

Checking on the plants to see if they are doing well and if need any maintenance task

Helping around the houses / doing household chores 

Researching online for questions pertaining to the plants

SEEING

What is Sameer's environment like?

Very busy with multi tasking between work, family and the garden

Occupied with searching for information online about his plants and the garden 

Occupied with manually double checking the schedule he has created to take care of his plants

THINKING AND FEELING

What are Sameer's hopes, dreams or fears?

What is important to him?

“My spreadsheets and notes are all half-baked products. I cannot follow them or keep them updated throughout the year”

“All this is too much to remember, I have to be on top of everything, every single time”

“It has suddenly become so chilly. Should I take the curry leaf plants inside?”

"Never miss the fertilizing, pruning, watering schedule"

HEARING

What is Sameer hearing from people around him that influence him or whose opinions does he value?

This is not a weed. Do not remove it. 

"The fruits are not diseased. They are sunburnt."

You've missed the sowing season.

“These are grubs. They are the June bugs’ larvae. They will completely destroy your produce”

“These are aphids. They will go away as the season changes. They are harmless. Just spray some vinegar and neem oil and they will fly away”

“The soil you have put even though cheaper is lacking many nutrients. You will have to fertilize it thoroughly”

You should have pruned it in the Spring

 

PROBLEMS DEFINITION

PROCESS

FIND THEMES

Cluster learnings into themes

GENERATE INSIGHTS

1 theme = 1 or N insights

PICK TOP 3-5 INSIGHTS

TRANSFORM INSIGHTS TO HMWs

PICK TOP 3 HMWs

FINDING THEMES

FINDING THE RIGHT INFORMATION

Looking for information online is time consuming

Combing through a lot of information in order to find quality information

I've to go hunting for information

I do not trust the information source of the planting apps out there

I get so many opinions when I reach out to the community

Finding good information is hard

Many times the community gives out amateurish information

I've to browse through so many videos

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION AND DIAGNOSIS

I need something that'll identify the weed and the pests before its too late

Not only identify but provide different methods to control it:

chemical, organic

I'm regularly faced with issues and questions like: 

Why is this plant not growing well?

Why are the leaves curling?

Why is the fruit size so small?

What are the brown spots on the fruits? 

Whats wrong with my plant? 

There are too many possibilities of what can be wrong: a disease, lack of nutrition, improper weather seasonal issue  etc. 

PLANT CARE SCHEDULE AND NOTIFICATIONS

Remembering the fertilizing schedule is a big problem

The fertilization schedule changes based on the typeof plant and fertilizer

You need to know when to prune and  how much to prune

Many times I miss the timing of the task

I need to be on top of every task

It will be very helpful to get notifications about each step of the process - e.g. prepare soil bed, get the seeds / plants, start planting etc. 

I currently maintain an excel sheet with rows as the the plants and  the months as the columns. I use color coding to differentiate each task that needs to be done for the plant

It'll be very helpful if a complete planting schedule gets generated and I get alerted every time a task needs to be done 

It is painful and error prone to manually keep checking the schedule

THEMES

Finding the right information

INSIGHTS

The source of the information must be of the highest quality and authentic e.g. botanical / agricultural institutions

Segregating different sources of information to create a single data source that serves as a universal set will prove to be beneficial.

The source of the information must be clearly conveyed to the user

The segregated information must be free of redundancy and duplication

It is important that adequate information is presented in a to-the-point manner

HMWs

How might we identify sources of information of the highest quality?

How might we segregate different information sources to form a universal set?

How might we convey the sources of information in a clear way?

How might we make the universal data free of duplicate information?

How might we present segregated information in a detailed yet to-the-point way?

Plant Health: Problem Identification and Diagnosis

Users struggle with correctly identifying the issue with their plant

Users find it difficult to identify pests and weeds on a timely basis

Users want know different solutions in order to solve the problem, especially organic solutions.

How might we help the users to easily and correctly identify the problem with their plant?

How might we help the users identify pests and weeds before it gets too late?

How might we provide the user with different solutions, especially organic to fix the problem with their plant?

Plant Care Schedule and Notifications

Users need hand holding and guidance regarding maintaining a schedule for the regular care tasks:

  • what tasks need to be done

  • when they need to be done

  • how much 

Plant care changes based on various factors like the type of soil, potted plant vs. plant in the ground, plant propagation method, type of fertilizer etc. 

Users need to be alerted in case of any unpredictable, irregular event e.g. weather changes

How might we alert the user in advance in case of irregular events?

How might we offer personalized plant care based on the very specific planting conditions ?

How might we provide guidance to the user regarding the regular plant care schedule that needs to be done to maintain healthy plants?

SELECTED PROBLEMS

How might we provide guidance to the user regarding the regular plant care schedule to maintain healthy plants?

How might we convey the sources of information in a clear way?

How might we offer personalized plant care based on the very specific planting conditions

IDEATION

PROBLEMS

How might we provide guidance to the user regarding the regular plant care schedule to maintain healthy plants?

How might we offer personalized plant care based on very specific planting conditions?

How might we convey the sources of information in a clear way?

IDEAS

For each plant, provide an automated and complete schedule of what tasks need to be done, when and in how much quantity

Reminders: Notifications / alerts that will remind the user to perform every task in a timely manner 

Provide a detailed planting guide that that guides the user and answers the FAQ from the pre-sowing to the post-harvesting stage 

Auto detect as much as possible e.g. soil, direction

Ask for additional information from the user that helps generate a personalized care routine 

List the main sources of data on the app's landing page

Project the richness and authenticity of the data  

Make a point about the segregation algorithm and the technology that powers this app

 

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

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INTERACTION DESIGN

TASK

Book a train ticket for a journey from the cities Bangalore (Bangalore City Junction station)  to Calcutta

APPROACH 

TASK FLOW 

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USER FLOW

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WIREFRAMING

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VISUAL DESIGN

The credit of this illustration goes to Chumbak - www.chumbak.com  I have used it and tweaked it as per the needs of my visual design.

India By Rail

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HIGH FIDELITY DESIGN

AN INVITING, INFORMATIVE AND CLEAR BEGINNING OF THE EXPERIENCE

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WELCOME to a vibrant, inviting and a clutter free landing page.
 

The users not overloaded with extraneous information, asked to select from several options upfront and asked many questions...

Information will be provided, questions will be asked - but progressively - ONLY when needed and ONLY what is needed

GUIDANCE AND HAND HOLDING WHEN CHOOSING THE SOURCE AND DESTINATION STATIONS

"New Delhi has 5 railway stations - What railway station should I choose?"

 "How do I spell Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna? - The spellings are tricky!"

"Why cannot I find Bangalore City Junction station on the list?"

 "Is Calcutta same is Kolkata?

Is Ahmedabad same as Karnavati?"

 "What are the main railway stations within Calcutta?"

India By Rail provides  popular stations, popular cities, regional and the global names of the cities and the  stations.

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MAP SHOWING THE LOCATION OF THE STATION

What will it be like if misspelling a certain station or a city will result in it being a completely different city? 

India By Rail provides the map functionality through which the user can see where exactly the station is located and in what part of the country. It also shows banks, ATMs, hospitals and food joints near the station.

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INTERACTIVE JOURNEY MAP AND INTERMEDIATE STATIONS FOR EACH TRAIN

A journey via Indian Railway can be as short as of 15 minutes or as long as of more than 2 days! Given that safety and certainty is the number one concern of the foreign tourists in an unknown land, seeing the route visually and knowing where you are going gives a lot of confidence and peace of mind to the travelers. The ratings for each train help towards the same goal.

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GUIDE TO UNDERSTAND THE TRAIN TYPES, TRAIN CLASSES, TICKET QUOTAS, RESERVATION CODES and MORE!

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The Indian Railways has several different train classes, ticket booking quotas, train types and reservation codes! 

This experience provides the user with all the required information and knowledge she would need, at the right time and in the right amount!

UPFRONT AVAILABILITY AND BOOKING INFORMATION

Ticket availability per train class, pricing as well as booking trend for the future dates is provided upfront to the users without requiring any registration. 

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PRODUCT PROTOTYPE

 

USABILITY TESTING

TASK

Find a train from Bangalore City Junction to Calcutta Railway station and book a ticket from the available train class and train quota.

TESTING GOALS

Are all the user pain points and unmet needs addressed by this design?

What new pain points and unmet needs are found during the testing?

Observe user’s overall experience of using the product with respect to features, interactions, content etc.

What did the users find
1. extraordinary

2. as expected

3. frustrating 

when using the product?

TESTING APPROACH

The users were asked to experience and complete the task on both the products:

  1. Existing IRCTC mobile website

  2. India By Rail

USERS

Catherine

Age: 70

Train booking experience:
In Europe, mainly France

She recently traveled in Spain via trains

Stephanie

Age: 37

Train booking experince:

In Germany

She has traveled the northern India in trains 

Jalpa

Age: 35

Train booking experince:

Several short train rides in India
Currently uses NY Subway everyday

TEST FINDINGS AFFINITY MAPPING

 

REFLECTIONS AND FUTURE FEATURES

REFLECTIONS

Search By State Functionality

I designed a 'Search By State' functionality after I studied the Amtrak website for booking trains in the United States. The purpose behind creating this design was to help the user select a source and destination station by first selecting a state instead of remembering  / typing their names. An interactive map was also designed such that it will change as the user selects the stations within the state. I designed both the wireframes and the high fidelity mockups only to realize during testing that the users found this solution confusing. I realized that I should have done a round of testing with the low fidelity prototypes and then gone ahead with the hifi versions. I also realized that what works for one country (in this case the USA) will not necessarily work for another country (India) and its users.

FUTURE FEATURES

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Foreign vs Local

Tourist Toggle

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Registration

Guest Checkout

One Time Password Alternative

Credit Card Scanner

Data
Persistence