Bloombuddy

A plant assistance app that allows users to take care of their plants and track their collection progress.

Role

UI/UX Designer
UX Researcher
Brand Designer

Timeline

June 2023 - July 2023

Team

Zalli Garcia
Danial Salleh
Sussie Man

Tools

Figma
Miro

The problem

People often don't know how to care for plants.

In the gardening world, many people who love plants face a common problem. People who want to create beautiful gardens have trouble finding help and the right plants, especially if they're new to gardening. Many begin with enthusiasm because they love plants, but changes in their life can make taking care of plants hard.

The solution

BloomBuddy is designed to pave a smoother path into the world of plant care and to keep enthusiasts engaged as they traverse it.

BloomBuddy will do the following:

  1. Ensuring Beginner Support: We aim to provide newcomers with user-friendly tools to confidently start their plant care journey.

  2. Creating a Lasting Joyful Bond: We're driven to develop a solution that simplifies gardening for beginners and ensures a lasting and joyful relationship with plants.

The Product
  1. Customize your plant journey

Register and complete a concise onboarding questionnaire for a personalized experience tailored to your lifestyle.

  1. Expand your collection

Embark on your plant journey by tending to plants that fit your lifestyle and can be a great addition to your collection.

  1. Complete Tasks

The app shows you how to care for the plants you've picked through a task a list. You know exactly what you have to do to make sure your plant thrives.

Designers, assemble!

Navigating ambiguity

Joining a new team often comes with its challenges, and in my case, it was the lack of a clear focus amidst diverse experiences and skill levels. To address this, I brought my ideation process to the forefront, setting concrete goals to guide the team:

  1. Establishing a Documentation System: I implemented a system to keep track of meeting notes, ideas, discussion points, and feedback. This approach aimed to streamline our communication and ensure that no valuable insight was lost.

  2. Defining Project Parameters and Logistics: By setting clear project boundaries and logistics, I sought to manage our time efficiently and uphold accountability. This step was crucial in aligning our diverse skill sets towards a common goal.

  3. Identifying a Significant Problem: We delved into various app and website concepts to pinpoint a substantial problem. This process was not just about ideation but about finding a meaningful challenge to address.

  4. Focusing on One Impactful Idea: The goal was to move beyond creating projects solely for portfolio purposes. Instead, we focused on developing one impactful idea that could address real-world challenges, thereby adding substantial value to our work.

Through these strategies, I prioritized not only creating meaningful value in our projects but also steering the team away from purposeless efforts. This approach helped in transforming our initial ambiguity into a clear, focused direction.

I like using Google Docs for brainstorming, but it’s not fun to look at so I put everything on Miro in cute little stickies.
Research findings: part i

We don’t need to create an e-commerce application for the plant community.

After our brainstorming session, I remained uncertain about what exactly we were aiming to design but we were interested in creating an e-commerce application. I thought that conducting user research would be crucial in identifying issues with existing plant apps in the market.

Our research objective was to gain insights into the challenges faced by gardeners and individuals seeking plant-related information or struggling with plant care.

We started by interviewing and releasing a survey and received a 22 responses from individuals of all kinds of ages and backgrounds. We asked questions like: Do you feel that something is missing from your method of shopping for plants? How do you prefer to start planting? These are some of my high-level findings:

1.

Users want to start buying plants because of varying reasons such as aesthetics or to improve air quality in their home.

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"WHY NOT buy plants? <3 Green. Fun to look after. Soothing. Aesthetics and vibes."

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"The look/aesthetic of the plant; the care instructions; and if they'll be able to thrive in my current living space."

2.

Users don't have the right knowledge nor do they want to spend more time researching the best option for them when they go shopping.

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"I like how I can see if the plant is lacking nutrients but I don't like how the level of care for each plant is different."

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"I have a hard time gauging how easy or difficult a plant is to take care of. I also don’t want to buy a plant for a place it won’t thrive in."

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"I often have my phone up when I'm at the plant store because I need to research things like "is this safe to have with a cat?" I never know what soil or soil mixture to get."

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"I like the variety, but I need to go in with prior knowledge on what I can and can't buy in terms of my living situation (i.e. lighting) and current knowledge."

After discussing this data, it became clear to me that creating an e-commerce platform wouldn’t make sense because the problem is to not necessarily to simplify the shopping process or to address common shopping-related issues for users.

research findings: part ii

Initiating and maintaining care routines is difficult

After the initial round of research left us uncertain due to a lack of clear patterns, we proposed a second round of interviews to dive deeper into the specifics of plant shopping and care. This phase aimed at understanding user engagement with plant-related apps, including their preferences and concerns. If participants were unfamiliar with these apps, we introduced the concept to them, seeking to identify any challenges they faced in starting and maintaining plant care. This approach revealed a common aspiration to care for plants, alongside significant obstacles in initiating and maintaining this practice.

Drawing from Experience: Leveraging my background in managing complex projects, I've adopted strategies to simplify tasks by breaking them down into manageable components or introducing elements of enjoyment, such as gamification.

IDENTIFY & SYNTHESIZE
The deep-rooted insight is

many people don't have the knowledge of taking care of their plants and is often their hurdle for maintaining the plant collection they have always wanted to have.

How Might We

simplify plant care and provide the knowledge they need to upkeep their plants quickly and easily.

Ideation

Possible features

During the research phase, numerous ideas surfaced, yet the challenge lay in crafting an all-encompassing application. To address this, I proposed the creation of a priority matrix. This approach would anchor us to a singular idea or concept while permitting the addition of supplementary features. My foremost objective in this endeavor was to establish a feasible Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

To determine what to prioritize, I looked at which features were necessary for users to effectively care for their plants, without adding complex functions. The "Must-Haves" quadrant includes the app's essential functions for helping users with plant care. Features like AR integration and chatting with other plant enthusiasts, while useful, are not the main focus for the initial development phase; we can consider them for future updates.

First sketches

Organizing the information

My aim with these sketches was to figure out how to organize information within the application. I was deciding which links were featured in the navigation bar and what features were useful for the user. I found these screens important to figure out:

  1. The plant results screen (after onboarding)

  2. task list screen

  3. plant app locator (and how to get there)

  4. plant tips (and how to get there)

  5. plant diary

execution

Lessons from our first prototype

After settling on our design system very quickly, we started prototyping each screen for each task. I created the task list flow and screens. This process took us a little more than a week. Throughout the designing process, there were thoughts I had that could possibly be problems for us down the road:

  1. Inconsistent UI: The user interface lacked consistency and wasn't fully developed.

  2. Too Many Onboarding Screens: Our onboarding process had an excessive number of screens, leading to time inefficiencies.

  3. Unnecessary Features: Certain features, like the plant identifier and plant diary, seemed superfluous at this stage.

An overview of our first prototype. Each member was tasked with designing one feature. Designing the task list was particularly challenging because I wanted to try various styles.

Testing & Iteration

Usability Testing

Entering user testing, I recognized areas for improvement. Despite our tight deadline, user feedback was essential for progress. We conducted in-person usability tests with four users, focusing on navigation ease, user flow clarity, UI feedback, and identifying confusion areas.

Results

The tests revealed varied responses:

  • Navigation: Users found it straightforward, but some areas had logical flow issues.

  • UI Consistency: There was a noticeable lack of consistency in the app's UI design.

  • User Confusion: We observed several instances where users became confused while navigating the prototype.

These insights indicated the start of an exciting iteration process to refine and improve our app.

iterating for the second prototype

Simplicity is key.

Post-user testing, I recognized the need for significant design improvements. Here's a streamlined plan for the next version:

  1. Simplifying User Experience: Focus on a smoother journey, particularly at the start, by reducing screen count.

  2. Adjusting Resources: Temporarily make certain elements static as they're not immediately necessary.

  3. Streamlining Features: Remove extra features like the plant identifier for now, with plans to reintegrate them later.

  4. Enhancing Prototype and Flow: Work on expanding the prototype and improving user flow.

  5. Design Consistency: Aim for a more cohesive and visually appealing design.

  6. Clear User Guidance: Ensure users have clearer direction for intended actions, enhancing ease of use.

In essence, the goal was to harmonize innovative ideas with user feedback, crafting an intuitive and user-friendly app.

Here are our updated screens after multiple revisions. We managed to reduce the number of screens significantly, and I'll discuss these changes in detail below, beginning with the user interface.

Creating the UI design

Keeping it trendy.

We reached a consensus on the UI very quickly and because of that, our early prototypes were not as consistent. I wanted to discuss these two things with my team:

  1. What kind of design style do we want this app to have?

  2. How can we make this app interesting to use and also accessible?

In the end, we settled with a Neubrutalism style and I wanted a typography combination that was a good balance of simple and playful so I suggested IBM Plex Mono as the primary and Inter as the secondary. Our UI Kit was a working document throughout our prototyping.

I created a condensed style guide to showcase our concepts and colors.

Iterating the onboarding feature

Shortening the introductions

I aimed to help users through an onboarding process so the app could provide personalized resources and plant recommendations based on their preferences and lifestyles. This way, the app would handle the research work for users, creating a customized experience.

In the first prototype, we had too many screens and asked too many questions, which frustrated users. In the second prototype after usability testing, we streamlined the onboarding process and removed unnecessary questions.

In the initial version, we included these questions because we believed they were essential for helping users discover the most suitable plants for their care.

In the second iteration, we shifted the focus of the questions towards understanding user motivation and their level of plant expertise. We decided to remove questions about commitment level and maintenance, as we found that these aspects weren't as relevant for users in the long run.

Iterating the Task list feature

Creating a productivity tool

The most significant challenge I faced was in designing the task list. I began by creating wireframes that outlined how the list would look visually. In each task, I included buttons that would lead users to more detailed information about how to complete that specific task. My reasoning behind this approach was to ensure that users would continuously learn about plant care as they engaged with the tasks.

For the first prototype, I also designed a screen that displays all the plants the user has. I considered what the experience would be like if the user had multiple plants and numerous tasks to take care of.

After conducting usability testing, I realized that I needed to enhance the user flow to make it more intuitive and guide users more effectively to the actions I wanted them to take. This involved creating a dropdown task list for each plant, implementing a calendar and notification system to track completed and upcoming tasks, adding headers to indicate today's tasks and completed tasks, and using animations to automatically move completed tasks to the bottom of the list while placing incomplete tasks at the top.

  1. Wire frame: A simple to-do list for all tasks with secondary buttons leading the user to more information.

  2. First prototype: A new screen was added so the user can view task lists per plant.

  3. Second prototype: To provide users with clearer guidance, I introduced a calendar, a notification system, headers, and animations to the design.

Iterating the Add a plant feature

Streamlining collecting plants

Originally, the process of adding a plant was part of the task list. However, in the interest of streamlining the user experience, I chose to create a distinct flow for this task. To achieve this, I began by crafting a button within the collection section, enabling users to add plants. Upon selecting this button, users are directed to a screen featuring a search bar and a list of suggested plants tailored to their onboarding responses. The subsequent step involves users naming the plant, which then seamlessly incorporates it into their collection.

  1. Wire frame: In this initial frame, the user would add a plant starting in their task list.

  2. Final prototype: In the final version of the prototype, users can add a plant straight from the collection screen. Here, they can search for plants and gather more information about them. Once they choose a plant, they can give it a name, and it's then added to their collection.

A couple iterations later…

In the end, I have a prototype that is visually clean, with a flow that is more logical and straightforward, more simple to navigate, and overall more intuitive. I am grateful for a team who is open to try new things and to learn with each other. Try it for yourself!

Interactive Prototype
Reflections

Conclusion

In conclusion, I'm content with the outcome of our journey in creating BloomBuddy with my team because it was a significant learning experience. We developed an app that not only demonstrated our design abilities but also pushed us to challenge our personal processes.

📐 Measuring Success

Reflecting on my project goals, my aspiration for the app is to make a positive difference for plant enthusiasts by achieving the following:

  • Encourage both beginners and experienced plant parents to use the app more frequently.

  • Stimulate an increase in plant purchases.

  • Enhance plant care proficiency by reducing plant fatalities.

  • Gather feedback from plant caregivers indicating improvements in their plant collection journey.

👩🏻‍🏫 What did I learn from BloomBuddy?

1. The design process isn't a one-size-fits-all model. It's dynamic, and there will be phases that don't follow a perfect, linear path. Our research phase, for example, was initially filled with uncertainty, but that's a normal part of the process.

2. When facing challenges or if the project starts to feel overwhelming, having a structured process to fall back on or a clear focus on the core problem is crucial. It's easy to get sidetracked when there are numerous possibilities to explore.

3. Not every app needs to be a jack-of-all-trades. Sometimes, trying to solve too many problems at once can lead to an unfocused and less effective product. It's often more impactful to hone in on a single, well-defined problem.

4. In collaborative projects, it's essential to respect and trust each team member's approach. Working with individuals of varying skill levels can lead to disagreements and corrections, but these interactions can be highly educational and enrich the design process.

Say "Hello!"

joneiljescobar@gmail.com

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© 2024 Joneil Escobar

Say "Hello!"

joneiljescobar@gmail.com

© 2024 Joneil Escobar