Inspiring self sufficiency during uncertain times.

My Role

Research
IA and ID
Wireframes
Prototypes
Visual Design

Team

Trina Packard
SVC UX Cohort

Grow the Future is a new product line inspired by phase one of quarantine in March of 2020.

 

I had the foresight that people would become interested in home gardening. So I gauged market interest in a product line for urban gardening kits by conducting research.

My goal was to create a tangible human-centered digital product by making sense of ambiguity.

Most large municipalities had strict stay-at-home orders. As a result, people developed food insecurity, boredom, and many lost a sense of community and purpose.

 

My digital product aims to inspire, educate and empower people to grow their own food garden, or “victory garden 1,” without having to leaving home.

Users and Audience

Users are thirty to fifty-five, residing in unconventional gardening environments, and are predominantly women. They are career-oriented, value environmental sustainability, and are resourceful.

In addition, most users enjoy outdoor recreation and have multiple crafting hobbies.

Main User Persona

My Roles and Responsibilities

I owned this project end to end. However, I frequently met with my instructors and cohort for feedback since this was completed through the 15-month SVC UX certificate program.

It was my responsibility to take the project through standard UX methodologies while exercising design thinking.

I presented my progress on multiple occasions throughout my process to my cohort and instructors to gain valuable insights and critiques that guided my project’s trajectory.

Product Line vs. an Existing Company

Building something based on a product line vs. an existing company was challenging for me. 

The scope of my project changed several times throughout my process as I gathered research insights, conducted usability tests, and witnessed a once unpopular product line grow exponentially as consumer demand increased for home gardening products.

“U.S. seed company W. Atlee Burpee & Co sold more seed than any time in its 144-year history in March as the contagious respiratory virus spread, Chairman George Ball said.” — Reuters

Discovery

Hypothesize 

What do users need?
I began my project on March 19th, 2020. As we all know, this was an unprecedented time on a global scale. I assumed an urban gardening product line would benefit users during quarantine.

Solicit
My next step was to pinpoint a user base. I achieved this by soliciting participants for user interview sessions. I used Facebook to recruit the last few participants.

My Facebook Post was effective for recruiting potential users of my product.

Research 

Create a Research Study Plan

Conduct User Research
I recruited 10 participants and conducted 1:1 interviews within Zoom to compare and contrast user interest and high-level needs.

Define 

Data Synthesis
The key takeaways from my data syntheses guided my product ideation and implementation process.

User Personas

Comparative Analysis


I researched e-commerce products, did a site audit on my three top choices, then combined and noted the positive attributes that best fit customer needs based on my user research data.

  •  Simplify home page so first time users know where to start.
  • Make sure help is always visible
  • Clean up the flow so users don’t get lost in the site.

 

 

Ideate

Info Architecture and Writing

Concept Model
I referred back to user’s needs from my research findings and compared them with my collection of positive attributes from three e-commerce sites to create a rough concept model.

I brainstormed navigation lables best aligned with customer needs, such as:

  • how it works
  • clearly defined shopping section, and
  • product categories.

Global Navigation

Global Navigation Model
I conducted an open card sort with my cohort to group themes.
( I shared my user and business goals first)

Refine global nav
I went through a few iterations for the global nav. My goal was to simplify the top-level nav to show high-level categories for findability. I also added a “shop by category” secondary nav to guide users down their intended paths.

First draft of global navigation. The ‘how to grow’ label is too wide and deep. The path to the store is too long to meet user needs.
The improved navigation. Shop is more findable, nav labels are concise and users can shop by categories. I want to help users understand where they’re at in the site.

Wrapping up IA and Ideation

Local Navigation

Contextual Navigation

Lo-fi Wireframes

Implement

User Testing

I ran into time constraints so I used a competitor’s site to conduct user testing similar to my product. I used the key findings to guide my design process.

Study plan goals

  • Discover user pain points during purchasing path.
  • Bring an informed approach to product refinement.
  • Define the most popular product line categories and why.

Testing Methodology

  • I recruited 5 participants to perform three task scenarios on a laptop or desktop screen over zoom.
    • Task 1 nav
    • Test 2 info seeking
    • Task 3 single items 
  • I was the notetaker and conductor for twenty-minute 1:1 usability tests.
  • I offered a $10 Starbucks gift card as an incentive.

    Key Findings

    • 5/5 Struggled with where to start 100% 100%
    • 4/5 Used primary nav to shop and got lost 90% 90%
    • 4/5 Struggled with add to cart and overall trust 90% 90%
    • 5/5 Were confused by category filters 100% 100%
    • 5/5 Used back button to navigation shopping flow 100% 100%
    • 5/5 wanted control to chose loose items outside of kit 100% 100%

    Refined Navigation

      I created a clear primary nav label of “get started” to help users who struggled with cognitive overwhelm on the first impression.

      The cart is clearly labeled on the secondary menu on the top right to help users build trust, knowing exactly what they have added.

      I cleaned up the category filters so users can shop by space, accessories, plant types and seeds. This structure is also expandable for additional products.

       Users now have more options for loose items outside of kits.

      Mid-fi Prototypes for shopping flow

        Wireframes for the shopping flow and product support, the most important features on the site to solve.

        Refine

        Iterate 2.0

        Mid-fi prototypes 

            • I made adjustments to my navigation to include a mega menu, showcasing all of the product categories under the nav item “shop”. This is repeated for the ‘get started’ flow.
            • Refine wireframes to high-fidelity desktop and mobile.

        Visual Design

        Consistency
        I created a recognizable brand by introducing a logo, design elements, color system, and company name.

        Outcomes and Lessons Learned

        Validating my hypothesis

        My initial goal with this project was to gauge user interest in gardening at home during quarantine to test my product line’s market viability. I met my goals.

        I validated my assumption with User feedback. 

        Actions taken by interviewees after interviews.
        A few of my interviewees purchased home garden kits after our meeting.

        Researching market saturation of similar products online months after projects conclusion.

        Supporting Articles

        demic-continues-urban-gardening-is-growing-on-new-yorkers/

        https://www.inquirer.com/life/victory-gardens-vegtable-grow-virus-plant-crops-20200406.html

        https://greenamerica.org/press-release/climate-victory-gardens-sprouting-all-over-8000-us

        https://www.weirtondailytimes.com/news/local-news/2020/04/lost-art-of-gardening-an-alternative-to-pass-time-during-pandemic/

         

        Learnings

        Think Big.

        Within the cracks of my research spanning my project, I discovered interesting information that was rabbit hole worthy. However, I stayed within the project scope to meet the deadline. But, If I revisit this project, I would hone in on the human and ecological impact food gardening has on our planet and mental health.

        Pivot. Moving forward, I would create a trusted marketplace focused on community, climate change mitigation, mending social inequalities, and self-sufficiency through food-growing education. My goal would be to make home gardening as conventional as modern-day recycling.   

        Expansion. My biggest takeaway is that digital products are not concrete. As time goes on, I think their need for flexibility increase as technology becomes more aligned with natural human evolution and customers’ evolving needs. 

        Resources: https://bedfordandbowery.com/2020/07/as-the-pan

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