Green Thumb

Product Design

Green Thumb is designed to assist users in maintaining the health and happiness of their plants. It offers detailed care instructions, scheduled reminders, and informational resources. This project was done as a design exercise to explore user-centered design principles and practical solutions for everyday challenges faced by plant enthusiasts

User Problem

People often obtain plants expecting to reap rewards like cleaner air, improved mood, and fresh food. However, plant ownership is also challenging, as it requires regular maintenance under changing conditions. Troubleshooting issues and painstakingly crafting just the right care routines causes frustration and a lack of confidence in plant owners.

Design Process

I thought the design process for this project would go mostly linearly, like this:
A process diagram neatly showing the progression from empathize to define to ideate to prototype to test, with one iteration back from test to prototype
Instead, it ended up looking more like this:
A messy process diagram showing all kinds of iterations back and forth between steps like empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and reflect
So what turned the straight path into a rollercoaster?

1. High Complexity
At the outset, Green Thumb was my most complex project yet due to diverse user needs. Initial user research involved creating affinity diagrams, user journeys, and flows, highlighting the need for clear information architecture and user-centric design.

2. Revisiting Green Thumb
Two years after completing the initial high-fidelity prototypes for Green Thumb, my improved design skills and fresh perspectives allowed me to identify and implement multiple improvements in user experience and visual design. For example, in my revisit, I implemented a distinct first-time user experience, increasing feature discoverability and user engagement.

I also improved visual contrast to boost accessibility and interaction. 
3. Overcoming Perfectionism
While working on Green Thumb, it was tempting to work and rework designs ad infinitum. The first phase of the project was hindered by my perfectionism, leading to prolonged prototype revisions without substantial user input.

Learning from this, I adopted a more iterative and collaborative approach while revisiting the project. By redefining KPI’s, setting structured deadlines, and engaging with regular feedback from users and other designers, I enhanced the product’s effectiveness and user satisfaction.

User Research

Research Summary
I combined my personal experience as a plant owner with a competitive analysis of existing apps to hypothesize user needs. I conducted interviews with six plant owners, asking about their routines, problems, and desired features.

From the interviews, I distilled five major pain points:
  • Care instructions: Unfamiliarity with plant care
  • Plant identification: Difficulty in identifying plants to give them proper care
  • Troubleshooting: Unsure why certain plants are struggling
  • Communication: A need to share care instructions with plant sitters
  • Safety: Unsure of plant toxicity for pets or children
Based on user research, I came up with two target users: 
  • Novice plant owners need straightforward care guides and identification help
  • Experienced plant owners require advanced features for managing large plant collections and sharing detailed care routines

User Flows

To better understand the complex interactions within Green Thumb, I created several user flow diagrams.
Plant Entry Page Options
Add Plant Flow

Usability Testing

I tested the viability of my proposed flows with low-fidelity prototypes. This lo-fi approach expedited the design process and kept users focused on functionality without being distracted by the aesthetics.

I asked users to complete a series of tasks while thinking out loud, followed by asking them about their thought process and challenges as they progressed.
Intuitive Searching
After conducting user testing, I decided to remove the option to browse plants by type since testers primarily used name or image searches. This change simplified the interface by reducing complexity and visual clutter. However, with more time, I would consider reintroducing the browsing feature to assist novice plant owners in navigating the app more easily. Reflecting on the initial user research, I realize it may have been skewed, as it only included experienced plant owners. In future iterations, I would extend the research to include participants who are less familiar with plants, to ensure the app is accessible and intuitive for all potential users.
Clear Confirmations
Testers were unsure when certain actions, like adding a plant to their collection, were completed. For greater clarity, I added confirmations for plant additions and reminder updates, which users  appreciated in the next round of testing.

Incorporating snackbar-style confirmations also provided an intuitive location for handling events outside the “happy” user journey, like offering an “undo” option or displaying warnings for unsuccessful tasks.
Plant Diagnostics
Initially, I designed a complex diagnostic tool using photos and detailed questionnaires, but user testing revealed it was overly cumbersome. In response, I integrated pest and disease information directly into plant profiles, simplifying navigation and improving user satisfaction.

Style Guide

To ensure visual consistency, I selected high-contrast colors, established clear typographical hierarchy, and designed meaningful iconography. The chosen colors and shapes reflect that the product is nature-themed, approachable, and simple to use.

Design Decisions

A Botanical Encyclopedia
Users can dig into the specific details of every plant to learn about proper care, toxicity to pets, and common issues.
Effortless Routines
Green Thumb suggests automatic routines and offers helpful tips for each kind of plant.

If I had more time, I would explore using a different UX element, such as a picker, instead of dropdowns for adding reminders.
Users can make routines precise for each plant, or apply routines across custom groups.
Users can customize plant entries with unique names and uploaded images. They can also keep track of plant progress through notes and photos.
A Place to Grow
The Learn page offers resources for users looking for more general advice on plant care. These articles are intended to help users get started and pique their curiosity about all plants have to offer.


What I Learned
  • Enhanced Design Skills: Revisiting Green Thumb with added experience allowed me to significantly improve the UX and UI, highlighting the importance of continual learning and keeping a growth mindset.
  • Value of User Feedback: User feedback was key for refining designs. Not only did a user-centered approach benefit users, it also guided me toward more confident design decisions.
  • Technical Proficiency: I streamlined my workflow with mastery of Figma’s auto-layout and components, allowing me to allocate more time to solving design problems.
Next Steps
Since this project was free from many constraints done as a design exercise, I am curious how my process might change if I were creating this kind of product for a client. Additionally, I'd want to know what I can do differently in the future if I were working with a team, especially in regards to accessibility and developer hand-off.
Common Cents
REAL Website