Plantopedia is a website to help educate new plant parents to make the right choice of plant for their lifestyle. The website places a large emphasis on addressing common houseplant care tips, needs, and concerns. Users are able to quickly navigate through a vast amount of plant information efficiently with help from a filtering system that lets users find the exact information that would be useful to them. The website also features a My Garden page which allows users to save plants to a personal garden for easy future reference.
Plantopedia has 47 plants in total in its library, with 6 easy ways to sort and explore.
The following information was collected from testing design with 20 participants.
- 85% of testing users said they would refer back to the care sheets.
- 70% of testing users said they would engage with the My Garden page to easily be able to find the information.
- 100% of testing users said they prefer to have both a filtering system and a search function.
Many people have become more and more interested in keeping and caring for houseplants, indicated by an 18%
demand surge during the Covid-19 pandemic. As many as 7 in 10 millennials call themselves plant parents and the average plant parent has killed seven houseplants according to Houseplant Statistics in 2022
an article written by Gardenpals. People love that plants have the ability to liven up spaces, freshen the air, and can be a fun little challenge to care for until it becomes too much of a challenge. No one wants to be a plant killer, have to spend more money replacing plants that lost too many leaves, or deal with the worst case scenario - pests. When things like this happen, people have few resources to turn to. Typically, commercial greenhouses will sell plants in perfect condition and provide limited information on how to care for them. My goal was to help people make the best houseplant choices for their needs, as well as help solve any problems that may arise along the way.
How can I demystify plant care?
Where can information be stored for future reference?
How can I answer common plant care questions without seeing and hearing from the plant owner myself?
Houseplants have become very trendy in the past few years; popularity really took off during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with everyone stuck indoors looking for new hobbies to try. Caring for houseplants filled the desire to have something to nurture and bring the lush outdoors home, making even the smallest of spaces homier.
Vox states in their article The COVID-19 houseplant boom
that this trend was fully fueled by social media. According to their analytics from social media management firm Sprout Social, plants were mentioned on Instagram an average of more than 3,000 times a day
Social media helped root the trend across various platforms. The hashtag #plantmom has been used more than 2.6 million
times on Instagram, and #plantsoftiktok has accumulated 3.4 billion
views on TikTok.
After working in a greenhouse part-time for several years I have seen a spike in youth and millennial interest in houseplants and have started to hear the same questions asked by these customers...
"Where can I find a good plant for low-light?"
"Which plants are pet-friendly?"
"What’s an easy plant to care for?”
To better understand my target audience I created an empathy map to lay out what I thought my users may be thinking, seeing, doing, and feeling when choosing a houseplant. This revealed that most people are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of houseplants there are to choose from. Narrowing down this process for my users would take away most of the stress and reassure them that they are making a good decision based on their needs. This process also pointed out that my users may be interested in knowing more about some of the basic needs and information of specific plants, such as sun exposure, watering needs, mature size, and origin.
With countless houseplants to choose from, I narrowed down my selection to roughly 50 plants and leveraged what I learned from my research and empathy map to divide them up into categories. From my research and personal experience in greenhouses, it’s important to allow people to explore a vast variety of plants to appreciate the beauty each one has to offer. This led me to arrange my plants in alphabetical order providing users with information right away such as a photo, common names, and botanical names of each plant.
During this stage in the design process, I designed a hierarchy of plant detail pages. This is the page users are jumped to after clicking on a plant. It would include information that highlights each plant's level of difficulty, amount of water, and sun exposure necessary, as well as some additional information including how to address the basic needs of the plant.
In my first draft of designing this process in high-fidelity, I learned a great deal. I changed my alphabetically-sorted jump links to sit on the left-hand side of the page rather than the top so users can easily sort while scrolling. I also included a jump link back to the top of the page to ease the pain of scrolling through every letter of the alphabet. At this stage, I also added more photos to the plant detail page so users can get a better understanding of what each plant looks like at each stage of growth or with different variations.
The video linked below shows my first draft flow, starting with the landing page prompting the user to take a quiz to discover which type of plant their personality matches up to. After that, the video shows the user navigating to the explore page, a plant detail page to save a plant to their garden, as well as a personalized wishlist.
After testing and solidifying my brand and brand values I decided that the Buzzfeed-style quiz was not going to benefit my users as much as delivering factional information would. I removed the quiz and replaced it with a long scrolling home page that provided users with more ways to filter the various categories: purifying, easy-care, low-light, low maintenance, popular now, and pet friendly.
Testing also pointed out that having a My Garden and My Wishlist for users may get a bit repetitive so I removed the wishlist and added a remove and add button to the My Garden page. This created an opportunity to design another page to house helpful guides of information for my users to discover more tips, tricks, and learn about common issues that may arise when caring for houseplants.
One of my goals was to find ways to organize, sort, and filter different types of plants for users to find the best fit for them. This feature would help people identify a type of plant that would have the greatest chance of success in their home.
During usability testing, I discovered that a significant number of testing users wanted a faster and more niche way to search for exactly what they were looking for.
Why is a filter system needed?
- People need a way to filter for pet-friendly plants. This insight reinforces the need to separate a section for plant and pet owners where users can find plants that are safe to share a home with them and their pets.
- A search bar is a must. With nearly 50 plants to explore, users need a fast way to find a plant if they already know what they are looking for.
- People want to easily be able to find low-light tolerant plants. Not many plants can handle low-light conditions and some of my users may not be able to accommodate all lighting needs.
Navigating the Plant Page
I feel that my revisions worked well and improved the quality of Plantopedia. These revisions help provide the users with answers to their questions before they would have even asked. I’m also satisfied with my decision to design an additional page with helpful guides because it can be difficult to understand plant distress signals when someone is just starting out.
This project taught me more about the nuances of both user and plant needs, and how they could both be addressed through meaningful design. It also opened my eyes to the importance of organized research, testing, and iterative design. At each stage in the design process, I learned how to better put myself in my user's shoes determining what they would want to see and what was not necessary.
Reflection + Lesson Learned