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

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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

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.

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?

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

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IDEATION

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PROBLEMS

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

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 

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

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

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

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

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

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INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

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INTERACTION DESIGN

TASK

Add a plant to your garden and generate care tasks and reminder for the same

USER FLOW

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Wireframes

WIREFRAMING

Whimsical was used for creating low fidelity wireframes for the task at hand.  All the wireframes can be viewed here:

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VISUAL DESIGN

Just as mother takes care of her children and nurtures them, the Garden Mum takes care of the plants. The Garden Mum is also a common name for the flowering plant Chrysanthemum. When I thought of this name, I found it very meaningful and suitable for the context and very unique when compared to other apps in the market. 

The visual design is based on the colors and patterns of Chrysanthemum.  

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HIGH FIDELITY DESIGN

AN INVITING BEGINNING OF THE EXPERIENCE WITH LISTING OUT THE MAIN DATA SOURCES

WELCOME to a vibrant and inviting landing page.

LAUNCH SCREEN

As per the the Apple design guidelines there is a launch screen. A launch screen appears instantly when your app starts up and is quickly replaced with the app's first screen, giving the impression that your app is fast and responsive.

SOURCES OF DATA AND INFORMATION
The users are presented with the main sources of data projecting the richness and the authenticity of the information that this application can provide.

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ONBOARDING

The on-boarding screens walk the user through the features the application has to offer. There is also an option to skip or opt out of this flow at any given time. Thus, the user is not forced to go through the on-boarding screens. The same information is available through the help section of the application.  

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MY GARDEN

Plants can be added to your garden by either taking a picture and auto identification or through searching through the encyclopedia. 

Once the plant is added to the garden, the app walks the user through auto generation of tasks and reminders.

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IDENTIFICATION RESULTS WITH DETAILED INFORMATION

Each identification result has helpful information like the picture gallery, basic information as well as a detailed planting guide. The source of the information is provided. 

If the user decides that none of the results match the plant, she has an option to submit a photo to the Mum team to take a look at it offline and help in identification. Also, the user can try to look for the plant by browsing the encyclopedia. 

OBTAIN CUSTOM INFORMATION FROM THE USER TO DEVELOP A PERSONALIZED PLANT CARE PLAN

As a first step of creating the care tasks and routine for the plant, the user is asked a set of questions that will help in generating a personalized care routine for the plant.

The user can choose to bypass this step and not provide any additional information. In that case the care tasks will be generated as per the general information about the plant. 

 

The user can go back and add those details any time in future which will lead to an auto update of the tasks. 

 

This functionality is clearly communicated to the user and nothing has been left to user guesswork. 

PLANT CARE TASKS AND REMINDERS

Plant Care Tasks and Reminders are auto generated by the application.

TASK DETAILS

Each task has details pertaining to the specific conditions the plant is being grown into as provided by the user. 

TASK SCHEDULE

The user can go ahead and change the frequency of the care task. The visual design of the date picker, time picker and frequency follows the latest design guidelines provided by iOS. 

 

PRODUCT PROTOTYPE

FUTURE FEATURES

FEATURES DISCOVERED AS A PART OF USABILITY TESTING

Multiple Users Scenario - multiple users taking care of the same garden

Information Sharing

Information Sync

Integrations of the reminders with the phone calendar

Growth and health tracker: Take pictures of the same plant periodically to track is growth and provide guidance

FEATURES ALREADY DISCOVERED THROUGH THIS PHASE'S RESEARCH

Plant Illness Diagnosis and Solutions

Plant Encyclopedia with Search Functionality