Plant Care App Design

Lots of people are buying plants without knowing how to look after them. This application is designed to help people take care of their plants at a basic level by reminding the user when and how to care for their plants.

Problem

Taking care of plants can be hard when you don’t know how to look after them. People either forget to water them for weeks or overwater them. People bring new plants home with good intentions, but are inexperienced and lack knowledge on how to look after them.

Looking through the top results on Google when searching “houseplants”, there are a large number of links and searches titled “How to keep my plants alive?” or “Why has my plant died?”.

Research

I created a questionnaire to understand my users and common problems that they experience with their plants to help me understand what users would need in a plant care app.

The questionnaire asked the participants if they have any indoor plants and their age bracket, then continued to ask the participants who have plants why they own plants, how many they own, if they know the species of each plant they own, and more detailed questions about how the participants take care of their plants and any problems they have with them.

The participants who either don’t own plants or don’t but would like to were asked why they don’t own plants. After this, all participants were asked whether they would buy a plant if they didn’t know how to look after it and how big of a responsibility they think owning a plant is.

The final few questions are about the app itself and ask the participant how good they are with technology, if they would use a plant care app, and what features they would find useful in a plant care app.

Results

The questionnaire had a total of 120 responses, with 95 (79.2%) of these participants owning plants and the remaining 25 either don’t own plants (11.7%, 14 participants), or don’t but would like to (9.2%, 11 participants).

Out of the 95 participants who own plants, just over half of these were aged between 21-30 (51.6%, 49 participants), 26.3% (25 participants) were aged 11-20, 12.6% (12 participants) were aged 31-40, and there were 3.2% (3 participants) in each of the age brackets; 41-50, 51-60 and 61 and over.

Almost half of the participants who own plants (48.4%, 46 participants) own 10 plants or more, 23.2% (22 participants) own between 4 and 6 plants, 16.8% (16 participants) own between 7-9 plants and the final 11.6% (11 participants) own 1-3 plants.

Some of the reasons the participants own indoor plants;

-Makes my house prettier

-They are my hobby

-They are beneficial to my health and environment

-They were a gift

-I enjoy caring for them

-They make me happy

The results showed that only 31.6% (30 participants) said that they know the species of each plant they own.

When the participants were asked about looking after their plants, only 50.5% (48 participants) knew how often to water their plants, 44.2% (44 participants) knew how much light their plants need, and 18.9% (18 participants) knew what temperature their plants needed. 36.8% (35 participants) said they have a watering schedule, but 16 of these participants said they are rubbish at sticking to it. The other 57.9% (55 participants) said they only water their plants when they look like they need it. 80% (76 participants) said they either always or sometimes forget when they last watered their plants. 53.7% (51 participants) said they would benefit from being reminded every time their plants need watering, and 32.6 (31 participants) said they might benefit from this.

How the participants feel when one of the plants die;

-Sad

-Like a failure

-Frustrated

-Guilty

-Devastated

Out of the 25 participants who don’t own plants, 36% (9 participants) are aged 21-30, 24% (6 participants) are aged 11-20, 20% (5 participants) are aged 41-50, 12% (3 participants) are aged 51-60, and 4% (1 participant each) are aged 31-40 and 61 or over.

The most popular reason these participants don’t own plants is that they don’t know how to look after them (52%, 13 participants), followed by not having enough time and not having the right facilities (20%, 5 participants each). Other reasons include plants costing too much, that they have pets or children, or just that they don’t like plants.

When all the participants were asked whether they would buy a plant if they didn’t know how to look after it 39.2% (47 participants) said they would and 44.2% (53 participants) said they might.

The participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how big of a responsibility owning a plant is, with 5 being a big responsibility. 5% (6 participants) rated it as 5, 25% (30 participants) rated it as 4, 35% (42 participants) rated it as 3, 30.8% (37 participants) rated it as 2, and 4.2% (5 participants) rated it as a small responsibility with 1.

The questions regarding the plant care app first ask the participants how good they are with technology. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being really good, 88.4% (106 participants) rated themselves as 7 or higher.

44.2% (53 participants) of the participants said they would use a plant care app and 44.2% (53 participants) said they might. Features these participants said would be useful in a plant care app include; identifying a plant, watering reminder, set a custom watering time reminder, plant index, care needs, calendar with last watered, and adding multiple images of their plant.

Inspiration

In order to gain some inspiration for designing the plant-care app, I spent some time downloading and using some different apps to see which features would be worth considering in my own designs. In order to narrow down the amount of apps I would be examining, I set out several different criteria. These criteria included; being free to use, had user reviews, had watering reminders and finally the app must have a camera function to capture images of a plant. Some of the apps I identified as having all of the above mentioned features were; Potted, Plant Watering Reminder, Planta and Right Plants.

Potted Plant Watering Reminder Planta Right Plants

After identifying the apps I would be examining, I spent some time looking through the user reviews to see what features people liked as well as features that people had requested that had not been included.

Below is a list of some features that users had frequently requested or features that users liked:

- Care instructions

- Name and take pictures of plants

- Simple design

- Dates of when a plant was last watered

Below is a list of commonly mentioned negative feedback concerning the apps features:

- Can’t identify plants

- In-app or physical purchases to use app fully

- Requires geographic data or other personal data of users to track plants

- No control of scheduling

After searching through the app reviews and the results from the questionnaire, I came up with a list of features that should be included in order to ensure a positive user experience.

Features to be included

- Calender

- Add Plant

- Plant Type

- Location of Plant

- Last/Next Water

- Identify Plant

- Automatic/Manual time reminder

- Watering Suggestions

- Plant Library

- Water Plant/s

- Picture of Plant

- Plant details

- Add a note

- Reminder to water plant/s

- Filter Plants (A-Z, etc.)

- Sunlight and Temperature Suggestions

Finger Placement (Thumb Zone)

Before beginning the initial design process I remained mindful of keeping the navigation menu easy to use. Due to the app concept being designed for mobile, ease of use was heavily influenced by being simple, clear and easily reachable. Using the research I conducted for my Undergraduate Dissertation, which looked into finding the optimal navigation position on a touch screen mobile, I devised a menu based on the main principle identified within my research; the “Thumb-Zone”.

Prototype

Home Page

The home page displays all of the users plants currently logged onto the app along with information regarding the last watering and the next watering of each individual plant. The home page also includes various different functions including; the ability to add your own name, a filter option to search by various plant characteristics and, when clicking on a plant, all of the information inputted via the “Add Plant” page is displayed.

Home Page

Navigation

The navigation design that I went with made use of the optimal navigation position identified in my dissertation. Through placing the navigation menu at the bottom of the screen and centering it in the middle I ensured that it was within easy reach of the users thumbs. The navigation menu includes the date and, when clicked on, opens up, displaying four titled icons (Library, Add Plant, Water Plants and Calendar). By utilising a simple, clear design I ensured that users would know which page each of the four icons related to.

Navigation

Filter

The home page includes a filter button so the user can choose how they see their plants - A-Z, Location in home, Date of next water and Date of last water.

Filter Next Water

View and Edit Plant

When one of the plants has been selected, the plant information is shown as well as any additional information added when adding the plant to the app. The user can also go on to edit the plant from here, being able to add or removed a picture of the plant, edit the location of the plant or add an optional note, then gets asked if the user would like to change the water reminder.

Next Water Edit Plant Change Reminder

Library

The library includes a database of plants ordered from A-Z. This page includes a search function as well as letters A-Z down the side of the page to quickly go to a specific part of the alphabet.

Library Aloe Vera

Add Plant

When adding a plant, you must first identify what type of plant it is. You can do this by typing in the name of the plant. One the plant has been identified, you will be taken to a new page which includes the ability to add your own image as well as a list of suggestions which include; watering, temperature and lighting. You can set the location of the plant, (eg. office, bedroom etc.) and also add notes about the plant.

Add Plant Adding Spider Plant Spider Plant Added

Below shows the home page with the new added plant.

Home Page with Spider Plant

Identify Plant

If you are unable to identify the plant, you can choose to take a picture of your plant and have it identified for you.

Identify Plant Picture Identified Plant

Watering Reminders

Once the plant has been added you are given to option to set a watering reminder. If you choose to set one you can select the automatic reminder time or set a manual reminder that will display as a notification if you aren’t on the app.

Watering Reminder Set Watering Reminder Time

Water Plants

The Water Plants page includes a list of all plants that are due to be watered that day. Once watered this page includes a checking feature which enables you to tick a plant as “watered”.

Water Plants Plants watered

Calender

The Calendar page enables you to scroll through the months in order to view the days that plants are due to be watered. On days a plant is due to be watered, the day number will be highlighted. When the date is clicked on, this will take you to the “Water Plants” page where you are able to check a plant as “watered”.

Calender

Future Implications

This project was to design a plant care app to help people take care of their plants at basic level. If I was going to design this app again, I would add some additional things to improve it.

Being able to date the plant and each image added to the app would be useful as the user would be able to see how their plant has grown since they purchased it. Additional things to add to the information page would be; when to fertilise the plant (and reminders), the size that the plant gets to and what size pot it would need, different watering suggestions depending on what month it was, common issues/diseases with the plant, what soil type it needs, where best in the house to keep it, when best to rotate the plant and if it is safe around children/pets.

Another addition would be that if when the user got reminded to water their plant and the plant didn’t need watering yet, they could postpone the reminder. Something else that could be added is a community space for users to talk, share tips and post pictures of their plants.