Case Study: GrowIt!

A sticky social solution for gardeners of all experience levels.

  • Research
  • Wireframes
  • Visual Design

Our Brief & The Team

GrowIt! is an app that was already live for Apple & Android devices when we undertook this project. In its existing state it was fully functional and visually appealing, but users weren't coming back for more. It lacked stickiness. Thus, we were tasked to:

come up with new features and/or redesign the current ones that would result in a higher level of engagement - either to affirm that our ideas are correct, or give us new insight that we had not thought of.

Two other UX designers and I did a deep-dive analysis of the current product. We pored through Google Analytics data, conducted usability tests of the existing app, surveyed around 200 people of all experience levels, and prototyped our solution. Though all three of us touched on all aspects of the project, my teammates focused on research, project management & presentation-building while I focused on prototyping & production.

Final Product

The home screen offers several ways for new users to start engaging with plants.

We improved the rating system - "Leave It" removes it from your feed, while "Grow It" saves the post to your favorites.

Users can share posts on the fly to other social platforms.

We noticed users needed a way to organize different collections of plants, so we added a Pinterest-like way for them to group their own and others' plants into specific projects.

We consolidated the previously-separate Search and Filter features and simplified it so users could quickly drill down to find exactly what they are looking for. Filters are applied one-by-one and the results update in real time.

One of our interviewees put her biggest frustration with gardening succinctly: "Plants die and you don't know why." While the Plant ID feature already exists, we augmented it with a Plant Rescue feature for when you just can't figure out what those weird white spots are!

Contextual Inquiry & User Interviews

We sent out a web survey to gather insights about why people liked gardening, what their favorite plants were, and what kind of space they had for plants. We also visited several garden stores & nurseries in the Chicago area and interviewed the staff & customers there. Our biggest takeaway: folks the gardening community are super friendly and love to share their knowledge!

We pulled a few insights from our survey about why people liked their favorite plants - easy, beautiful, and edible topped the list. From our interviews, we deduced a few principal reasons why people enjoy gardening overall:

  • They care about the environment and sustainability.
  • Plants are like pets - they fulfill a nurturing instinct.
  • It has intrinsic value and is a family tradition.
  • It's rewarding to watch a plant grow.
  • You can grow your own healthy food & know exactly where it came from.
  • They look good!

Persona Creation

We created three personas that tracked well to the distinct types of people we talked to.

Master gardener, widower, lives alone in a condo. Knows how to take care of her existing garden but needs inspiration for what to plant next. Loves the social aspect of apps!
Javier and Krista
Married couple with a baby on the way. New homeowners of a detached single-family home. They love the idea of homesteading & feeding their baby-to-be but are daunted by taking care of a whole yard the first time.
Single and ready to mingle; lives in an apartment in the city with no outdoor space. Loves decorating and follows lots of home decor & lifestyle blogs for inspiration. She loves the look of plants but has no idea where to start!

We used these personas as a framework for our solution - not only to figure out what would satisfy them individually, but what features would make them want to interact with each other and keep coming back to the app. With Ginny, for example, who uses a lot of social apps already, GrowIt! would have to provide a distinct value she couldn't get with Pinterest or Instagram.

Design Direction

Solution should foster easy, meaningful, informative, and fun connections between people about plants on a local and global scale.

Design Studio

We asked a few participants to brainstorm rough ideas for features our personas would enjoy. Afterwards, we identified a few common trends among the ideas & decided which were within the project scope.


Homepage & project/profile editor

Search & filter

Plant ID & rescue


Our experience with GrowIt! presented a unique challenge since we were refining an app that already existed. Though wireframes & mockups were a necessary component, user research & usability testing were paramount to the success of our iteration because the app's first development cycle didn't allow for that step.

We delivered a product that was, by design, rather distinct from the existing app as we wanted to generate new solutions rather than reinvent the wheel. Though our client may not implement every feature verbatim to the way we designed it, our team is excited to see the influence of our designs in future iterations of GrowIt!

Like what you see? Contact me and let's work together!