Plant Care for Novices

I designed a digital app for a startup team, establishing their UX and UI frameworks.
I designed a digital app for a
startup team, establishing their
UX and UI frameworks.
Sole Product Designer
2 Developers


Millennials are gardening now more than ever, and the majority are at an early stage of learning. Have you heard the phrase ‘plants are the new pets?’ This startup team wanted to explore whether there was an opportunity here for a digital app.

Launch a successful digital service that capitalizes on the large market of young, novice gardeners.
The initial scope for research was very broad. There was a low budget for user research, so I used some guerilla methods.

Initial Research + Analysis

Research Goals and Methods

I aimed to understand the values held by novice millennial gardeners. Further, I wanted to investigate the trajectory of their learning journeys, identifying key patterns and potential areas for improvement.


Literature Review

To narrow down what I needed to learn in primary research, I started by looking at research studies done on the values of millennial plant owners (for example, why do they get plants?)


Competitive Analysis

I evaluated two plant-care apps on the market in order to understand user needs, learn from best practices, and identify a unique value proposition within the competitive landscape.


User interviews

I interviewed 7 people between the ages of 23 and 37 about the plant care journeys they had recently began. I uncovered pain points they had experienced in their process.

Journey Map

I got an understanding of the most common steps in a user’s journey as well as their intentions and emotions along the way. This map helped me consolidate, visualize, and present this information.

Biggest Takeaways


Users value aesthetics and mental calm

The top reasons this user group keeps plants are because they seek a trendy home aesthetic and appreciate the calming mental effect that plants provide.


Guidance is most important at 2 major points

Users typically seek guidance (from online or in-person resources) twice in their journey: when they get a new plant and when/if the plant becomes unhealthy.


Trial and error is the user’s best option currently

Users often don’t know why their plants die. When a plant is unhealthy, users will cross-reference multiple resources and go through the process of trial and error. Many times, they'll still have to deal with the disappoint and confusion of a dead plant. :(

The Problem, Reframed

Novice home gardeners need centralized and trustworthy advice on caring for struggling plants in order to feel supported and less uncertain in their gardening journeys.

How might we provide guidance to new plant owners during times of uncertainty?


Feature Prioritization

I brainstormed high-level solution paths and assessed which to pursue based on the expected value to the user versus the complexity of implementation.

Water, soil, and light recommendations: User research revealed that the primary information they seek when getting a new plant includes watering requirements, light needs, and soil type. This existing and easily integratable data will contribute to our comprehensive end-to-end solution.

Diagnosis and care recommendations for unwell plants: All interviewees shared experiences of owning plants that became unwell or died and not knowing why. I learned that users are willing to share plant pictures, but understood that predicting issues and providing care recommendations is complex. Sourcing, cleaning, and modeling the required data will take time before it can be operationalized.


To foster exploration and divergent thinking, I wanted to get initial ideas onto the table.


User Flow

The user’s goal is to find out how they should care for their ailing plant. I mapped out the series of steps the user takes on our app to achieve the goal. I’ll be showing the design of part 2: diagnose a plant.

Low-Fidelity Wireframes and User Testing

I outlined the app's information architecture and visualized making relevant information available according to the flow of user goals. For example, the home screen provides an overview of each plant's status, with full details accessible by tapping on each card.

Overall, the low-fidelity wireframes tested well for navigation and reaching the diagnosis point, but 4/7 participants expressed confusion during the ‘add image’ moment. There was also concern over how new plants can be added, what “Diagnose” means exactly, and how plant status would be communicated.

Updated, Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

Continually learning about users mental models drove the additions and modifications I made as a I increased visual and content fidelity. For example, a search button was added below the existing plant list because I learned that it’s infrequently used after initial setup.

UI Mood Board

When using this app, our users should feel peaceful, creative, and curious about nature. Many of our users expressed that they garden because plants contribute to both trendy aesthetics and mental calm. Our product should be rooted in these values.

Style Guide

This app's open and playful visual language pushes beyond the conventions seen in the online nursery space. A pastel color palette was carefully used alongside earth tones to strike a balance between creative energy and awareness. Deep purple neutrally represents represents actions of all emotions. The typeface Poppins was chosen for its simplicity and legibility.

Dos & Don’ts, Examples


Plant Pages


Results + Next Steps

10 participants went through tasks of checking plant status and diagnosing a plant, including uploading pictures and entering text. 10/10 participants successfully completed both tasks and had positive sentiments about their overall experience with the app.

The next step would be to have users test this application across the span of a few weeks, keeping it on hand as they garden. While the results of virtual user testing were positive, data gathered in real-life, contextual conditions is essential to truly discern whether the product has the intended effect.

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