The Victory Garden App
A self-initiated project to develop an app as a guide to growing your own kitchen garden.
Need some help growing a kitchen garden? With a unique experience of being guided with tips, observational recordings and a community oriented approach, The Victory Garden makes it easy to discover plants to start growing and maintaining, of course- customised to the time and space one could spare!
Objective: Address issue of growing a kitchen garden
Deliverable: High fidelity prototype of a mobile app
Timeline: 5 weeks
Role: Product strategy, user research, product design, branding, copywriting
Tools: Balsamiq, Sketch, Invision App, Principle App, Information mapping system ( Post-its, Pen & Paper)
Back Story — Why this project?
In December 2015, I adopted my mom’s garden. When I started nurturing my mother’s plants, little did I know “How to garden!” I’d read up online or ask my aunts only when there was a pest attack. I’d water the pots everyday but never learnt about what the plants required. Half-baked knowledge was indeed harming the plants- my mother’s garden was wilting and it pained me to see them suffer. As I invested time and efforts, I started enjoying the tasks related to gardening, in fact, it turned out therapeutic and helped me grieve, positively!
Kitchen Garden versus Ornamental Garden
Growing your own food has many clear advantages, but it also has some unexpected benefits.
For a start, kitchen gardening is a great way for people to connect to nature, and it’s so important to our overall wellbeing. Many people feel calmer or more relaxed around plants.
In the last decade home-grown food has enjoyed a popular resurgence, often inspired by a desire for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
Growing your own food instills a sense of responsibility, ownership and hence pride, as the results of care and efforts are visible as well as enjoyable.
The inquiry into the concept for the app rose from a single question: What if the novice gardening enthusiasts could “know more”?
While I learnt it on the go from various sources, others could have a guided and curated approach to setting up, maintaining and harvesting their kitchen gardens. While I struggled to keep up to the regular gardening tasks, others could set up prompts and guidelines to perform the tasks. While I did not know that Mint leaves can grow wild, others could be well-informed of the growth of the plant!
Why an app?
An app would help users access information on the go, give the purpose of gardening a more community oriented activity. Brainstorming through the problems that the app could address, the first round of interviews clearly indicated that the app needs to:
• Take into account the user’s skill level
• Choice of edible plants defined by user preference
• Geographical location to understand the most cultivable plants
• Novice gardening enthusiasts depend on multiple sources of information to understand how to set up a kitchen garden and also maintain it.
• The sources of information are scattered, unreliable, often verbally communicated.
• The available information may or may not indicate specifics such as weather parameters, plants needs of water, sunlight, nutrients, tools suitable, troubleshooting problems etc.
Victory Garden is a mobile application dedicated to helping people grow food. We believe it is something that everyone can do, regardless of their skill-set or space at their disposal. Whether you live in an inner city apartment or have a roof-top terrace attached to your home, the Victory Garden App will have you growing your own produce in no time.
An in-depth research was conducted amidst between the age 22 to 65 years, both males and females, but predominantly females, living in urban/semi-urban cities. The interviews uncovered intentions and motivations of avid gardeners, experiences and habits of those who are distant from gardening, the types of information and assistance that new gardeners might need with their garden setup, troubleshooting and sustaining the interest in gardening.
• Pro-gardeners do not depend on technology for gardening tasks.
• Majority of the respondents who are not well versed in gardening are demotivated because of space constraints.
• Non0gardeners seek instant and step-by-step guide to motivate them into gardening. Cues to follow at various stages is was way to validate their knowledge.
• Non-gardeners as well as pro gardeners emphasise on consumption of clean food as an important lifestyle choice, even though they may not be doing so.
Recognise the audience group targeted by competitors.
Outline tasks the keys features offered by competitive apps.
Brand position and value propositions.
Identify opportunities to fill any gaps with respect to product features, and design, if any
Insights from Competitive Research:
Competitors assume that users are well-versed with gardening basics, that they have ample space and desire to dedicate extensive time to gardening
Reminders/ notifications features are centred around basic tasks such as watering and adding manure.
Seasonal planting suggestions, plant pairing, plant maintenance levels are either not addressed or are not contextualised.
Troubleshooting gardening concerns is usually passive, for example resolving pest attacks involves taking a picture to which community members respond.
men and women, age bracket between 20 to 45yrs, professionals as well as home-makers, technology savvy adults who are familiar with smart phone usage, health conscious, environment conscious.
Low-Fi Wireframe Sketches
What would help those interested in gardening, get started with a garden?
Concept validation with low-fi wireframes
Defining the Information Architecture
Brainstorming the name
What are the emotions that the app is intended to generate in users:
• A sense of accomplishment
• A sense of pride for seeing results of their hard-work
• Joyful celebration.
The name Victory Garden stood tall to the emotional associations as compared to other options such as Reap, Food for Free, Growing Good, Clean Eats
Mapping the app User Flow
The Victory Garden App is the only app that takes into account the level of expertise of gardeners and the amount of space available to set up a garden.
Addressing fairly new gardeners, the app is the only one that guides users to set up and maintain their kitchen garden by providing prompts in engaging ways to track and record plant details including infection report and personal notes.
Medium Fidelity Mockups
User Testing Insights
Better on-boarding experience could help establish the context of features
Users need might have to learn semiotics of iconography.
Gardening is an emotionally engaging and fulfilling activity, however, the screens are mechanical and the content is rather straight-forward.
UI and Content Revision
Integrating illustrations to indicate the on-boarding context
Simplifying the icons
Re-working on the content language, while retaining the content strategy, specifically in key user-flows such as on-boarding where user engagement is of prime importance
Evaluating typography choices