Simplifying Plant Care for New and
Type of Project: Iterative Design and Prototyping
With the Evergreen app and smart pot system, plant owners can manage multiple plants, monitor real-time metrics for optimal plant health, schedule care reminders, and receive personalized recommendations vetted by experts. Wherever you are on your plant journey, the Evergreen app and smart pot system takes the guesswork out of plant care.
The Evergreen app and smart pot system was conceptualized and designed by Dana Ardell, Paige Day, and Rolando Ramirez while taking the Prototyping and Implementation course offered as part of DePaul’s Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction program during the 2020-21 Spring quarter.
Plant care has grown in popularity due to the pandemic. Our team collaboratively designed and developed prototypes for a plant care app and smart pot system to meet the needs of both new and experienced plant owners.
Our application provides users with an easy way to manage plant care, regardless of experience level or plant collection size. While competitor apps focus on umbrella care guidelines for plant species, Evergreen analyzes plant-specific data gathered via our accompanying Evergreen pot, adding precision to our plant care recommendations and alerts. The Evergreen pot is a specialized smart pot that collects real-time data for each plant, including moisture level, soil pH, and sunlight. While competitor apps function much like notes applications with plant themes, Evergreen presents a modern way to organize, schedule, and manage plant care based on real data.
One of three UX designers who sketched ideas, collaboratively designed and developed prototypes, and designed branding for a new plant care app for a graduate-level prototyping course.
Our first Evergreen prototype, which was later used for usability testing, was designed as a preliminary way to showcase the key features our application should offer: add individual plants to collections, and manage plant care after onboarding. Much of the feedback we received from our usability testing centered around making actions and their results clearer to users. Although users agreed that the steps needed to complete tasks were easy to identify, they also agreed that this was due to our application’s limited options, rather than the intuitiveness of our design and language.
To address this feedback, our team made sure our next prototype provided clear confirmation to users upon task or workflow completion. We also reviewed button labels for clarity. Our team tried to avoid introducing confusion to users by limiting options within the app, however, during usability testing, our users indicated that they wanted more options to give them a greater sense of control over their experience. For example, one user suggested an option to input a new plant’s species manually instead of using our automated camera option. We added this feature to allow users greater flexibility in task completion.
We constructed our test plan by first identifying which tasks our users should complete during usability testing: (1) on-boarding new plants, (2) navigating to individual plant metrics, (3) scheduling reminders, and (4) contacting plant experts for help. Once we identified the required tasks, we created a test script for team members to follow during user testing. When the test script was finalized, we recruited users who fit within our target audience, then we executed usability testing. Each team member led two usability tests, divided into four tasks per user. We shared the results of our usability tests with our teammates and consolidated user feedback to guide implementation of changes to our prototype.
Design charrette, high fidelity prototyping, iterative design, low fidelity prototyping, mid-fidelity prototyping, usability testing
Axure, Figma, Pencil/pen and sketchpad
We learned how to work simultaneously on team files within Axure, which allowed us to easily collaborate throughout all phases of the design process. Most importantly, we learned the value of usability testing. Receiving unbiased feedback from users taught us how easy it can be for designers to overlook small details within their own designs, which become apparent only during usability testing. Finally, we learned that it is incredibly difficult to create an intuitive design, especially one that makes users excited to use a product. No one should feel ownership over a particular idea and all ideas should be viewed through the lens of the user to determine inclusion or exclusion. As much as good design is an art, it is also a science. Good design requires a whole team of people with different views, opinions, and experiences come together and forget their own egos and personal agendas to create the best experience possible for the user.
Ideally, our latest prototype would go through additional usability testing before iterating on the design again, however the usability testing we were able to complete over the course of this project gave us the opportunity to empathize with our users and understand how our application could be improved to fulfill users’ needs to a greater extent.