E-Commerce Care App for Plant Parents




Date of Project

Lead UI Designer, UX Designer
Figma, Miro, Google Survey, Whimsical, Trello
4 Weeks (80 Hours Total)
April 2021

Plant parenting can be hard

Have you ever been in a store and agonized over which plant you should take home? Which leafy friend would thrive in your environment, maybe? It can be very joyous to get the most beautiful plant to add to your collection, but then equally heartbreaking when it crumbles in your home.

For this project, I worked on a team of two to design a social e-commerce app for a plant shop that educates customers on how to care for their dream plants.

Adopt and care for your plants through our app

Plantlab is an online plant shop that ships nationally across the US. They sell plants, pots, saucers, soil, and more through social media and their website. It’s now time to design their app!

Plantlab is in need of an immersive app that caters to online and eventual in-person shopping, has a strong brand identity, and incorporates an AR/VR feature for user visualization.

5 or more plants

in a room leads to people feeling

healthier & happier

Major benefits to owning plants, boosting overall health

Through secondary market research and results from third party surveys, I found that most plant shops are investing in their online presence after discovering they don’t need their store to be open everyday in order to make profit.

Because of the major mental health benefits of being surrounded by plants, the gardening market has seen a increased spike in house plant sales. Studies have shown that plants can lead to a 44% decrease in anger and hostility, as well as a 37% decrease in tension and anxiety.

Competitors introduce AR/VR in apps, but has little impact

Much of our secondary reserach also suggested that prototyping and incorporating AR in an app was extremely difficult due to technology limitations and didn’t increase trust among users. Customers typically distrust stock images, which AR/VR features are dependent on.

"So, botany plants lately?"

5 Millenial/Gen Z plant enthusiasts were interviewed via Zoom about their plant shopping and care habits. Participants were located across the USA and had bought at least one plant within the last year. Using Miro, my team and I synthesized patterns down to four major pain points and habits.

Online shopping is trending, but millennials are still hesitant

My team and I conducted a short survey of 5 questions for Millennial and Gen Z plant owners across the USA. In less than 24 hours, 39 participants completed the survey, the majority being millenials.

Through Miro, we organized all survey answers to identify why Millennials in particular prefer to shop in stores.

Empathizing with plant owners

As a team we combined our findings from 1:1's and the survey to create a well-rounded empathy map. This exercise was very helpful for us to assess the bigger picture and overall patterns for plant owners!

Meet Caleb: The Plant Enthusiast

Caleb is an impulsive shopper, thinking about the emotional and aesthetic connection to a plant before considering plant commitments. His collection has gotten larger during the pandemic as a helpful tool to decrease his anxiety and depression. He finds in store shopping much more rewarding and fun.

What are Caleb's shopping habits?

Caleb falls in love with the aesthetics of a plant before considering its needs and chasing mostly that high feeling of instant gratification. The plant's care needs become an afterthought, which leads to disappointing experiences later.

Caleb needs to purchase plants that will do well in his space because he wants them to thrive.

How might we help Caleb find plants that work in his space?

Because of vague plant care information and impulsive shopping habits, owners don’t know how happy a plant will be in their space before purchasing it. My team and I began by brainstorming ideas through what if questions.

Can an AR feature solve this main problem?

Through Zoom, my team and I conducted multiple rounds of Crazy 8’s to quickly draft options on how the app might help users with in-store shopping habits and plant care responsibilities post-purchase.

Research guided us in a new direction

We did a separate set of Crazy 8’s for solving this through an AR feature, but concluded this was not the most effective route due to technology limitations and users distrusting stock images.

Because users were mostly shopping in-stores for the thrill of it but unsure of the committment aspect, educating shoppers on how to care for their plants before and after purchase took priority over an AR feature for online shopping.

Integrating care features into an e-commerce app

I divided navigation into four categories: Home, Shop, My Plants, and Account. Even though millennials are slow to adjust to online shopping, there's still a huge increase in online sales.

I created a tab called My Plants where users can create and maintain informational profiles of each of their plants. Profiles include names, images, and care facts about the plant's species with the intention of personifying the plant so owners feel more connected with their lively belongings.

My team and I created three task flows that every user needed to be able to complete in order to declare the app successful.

First, users need to be able to shop easily on the app. This task should be familiar and easy to accomplish.

Second, users need to understand and smoothly interact with the My Plants section of the app. We needed to test out how impactful and useful this actually was towards solving our problem.

Third, users need to log their plant care activity through a fun, interactive care tracker on the home screen. The intent behind this was to add a validating, playful experience to a routine task.

Fun and cheeky branding

Using Pinterest, my team and I collaborated on a mood board to get the creative juices flowing. To mirror the strong personalities plants often have, the app's vibe also needed to represent a strong, easily lovable character.

Final Style Tile

Appealing to our target audience by playing with fun pops of color and fonts that have character, our key words for our app are "Fun, Cheeky, and Whimsical". To establish branding consistency, we incorporated illustrative elements in the logo and for the animated care tracker.

Teamwork makes the screens work

As a team, we sketched out more variations of ideas manifested from the crazy 8’s exercise. As the Lead UI Designer, I then created multiple drafts of each screen, which were edited based on frequent feedback from my team.

Keeping the focus on plant care education, I designed the homepage to act as a care reminder for users. When opening the app, users immediately see the plants they need to water and can log their activity right away.

UI variations for the care tracker

For the My Plants section, I designed several variations of the UI that aims to enhance the educational foundation of healthy plant care.

Halfway through wireframes, I consulted with a plant shop owner who is also a designer to get feedback on which best solved our problem statement. After processing his feedback, my team and I concluded the far right UI best represented the educational aspect plant owners needed.

Making the app come to life

Building the prototype using Figma


View on Figma

"This is such a cute app! Where can I download it?"

I conducted 5 user tests with participants that matched the demographics of our primary research participants. My team and I synthesized notes from recordings into a Miro board, breaking our findings down by each task.

Overall, the testing was a success, with the exception of one major pain point. While all participants felt a strong positive reaction to the overall brand, personality, and ease of navigation, most participants did not know that the UI bar under the product page and plant profile was interactive, causing this part of the UI to fail.

Editing the plant care info bar

While users felt the plant care information helpful, most thought it was a static image and not an touch feature. To improve this, I edited the progress bar at the bottom to indicate more of an interactive element.

More testing will need to be done in order to determine the success of this edited design. Another option is to have an onboarding animation where the bar moves back and forth automatically when users download the app for the first time.

Here's what I learned:

While AR/VR is very popular right now, research shows that prototyping technology isn't up to speed with what AR/VR features would actually look like on a fully developed app; making it near to impossible to accurately test out its success beforehand. As the Lead UI Designer, this realization opened new pathways to combine familiar design with playful elements, which I believe is at the heart of innovation.

This was an incredible learning experience for working on a small design team. My biggest takeaway? Everyone synthesizes research differently, but we all get to the same findings.