Human-centered botany – designing Leafi

My role: UX/UI design

The problem

Plants have a huge variety of positive benefits in the home but not many people own them. So, I set out to find a way for people to connect with plants and by extension, nature, in a more meaningful way.

Why plants?

Besides being aesthetically pleasing, plants are beneficial to our mental and physical health. 
Here are a couple awesome things that plants do.

  • ​Boost mood, productivity, concentration, and creativity.
  • Reduce stress, fatigue, sore throat, and colds.
  • Clean indoor air by absorbing toxins and increasing humidity.
  • They even reduce noise levels.

Why not plants?

I sent out surveys and began interviewing people who didn’t own or owned very few plants to see why they didn’t have many leafy friends in their home. 
After collecting the data I abstracted their main pain points into four encompassing categories.

Information – How often did they need to water the plant? How much water and sunlight did it need? When? A lot of people had killed plants in the past, which was discouraging when considering to purchase a new one.

Lifestyle – Some people just don’t have time for a plant. Whether it be because of traveling or just a busy work and social life. Remembering to water plants is hard when their schedules don’t line up with our traditional week. 

Cost – Plants are a small investment but an investment nonetheless. It’s hard to justify the cost of a new plant, pot, and soil if you think it’s just going to die in a week. Traveling to a store to purchase a plant is also a time consuming task. 

” I don’t know the difference between a $30 plant and a $60 plant.”

Personal attachment – I was surprised to learn the amount of people who were upset by the amount of plants they had killed. It revealed our relationships with plants is more than just decoration, it’s personal.


Now that the barriers between people and plant ownership were clearer, I could start finding ways to break the barriers down. 
I started by rapid sketching solutions to the specific individual problems people described to me in the surveys and interviews.

After a few minutes I began to realize that the four categories ( information, lifestyle, cost, personal attachment) could be abstracted into an encompassing issue people faced when considering to purchase plants. 

Compatibility: How do plants fit in our lives?

This prompted the comparison to dating. What if we could share our lifestyle and be matched with the plants that best fit us?

  • ​This would strengthen personal connection 

  • Help decrease the knowledge barrier 

  • Save time for the user so they didn’t need to research 

Using this new mode of thinking I started to sketch out an information architecture that would intersect the needs of a new plant owner with the needs and benefits of specific plants. 
I started with the main concerns people expressed when they were looking to buy a new plant. I listed them out with options to have more or less involvement with plant ownership.

I then created a visual continuity with symbols so the user could see their options reflected on the plant bio. This way they could measure the pro/ cons of each plant at glance or more in depth. Adding a rating system would make this process even easier. By using a light meter, users could measure the amount of available sunlight in their home.

Now that people could match with plants to fit their needs and lifestyle, the next step was to connect them further by personalizing their experience. 
For this, I drew from the experience of owning a pet. I wanted people to have the option to name their plant and create a profile for it. The plant, in turn, would come with a set of simple instructions for feeding and sunlight, delivered partially through push notifications addressing the user. Social boards would also allow people to share their plant with friends, family and other plant enthusiasts.

I sketched out a quick logo using the visual continuity from the rating system, added a hand drawn illustration, and wrote in a call to action.

Notes and revisions.

A few weeks after completing this project I was stumbling around the internet when I discovered “Bloomscape” a plant delivery service. I had entirely missed their service doing desk research because I was focused entirely on a mobile first design. Bloomscape tackled the same problems I found and solved them almost the same way! They had a mobile app (Vera) but it was only designed as a task reminder for watering and re-soiling plants. I took the design of their website and app and pushed it into a mobile first app design. ( I included the functionality of the Vera app as well. )

View the figma prototype here –


I’m always looking for feedback. If you liked this project or didn’t like it, I would love to know your thoughts.

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