SEEDS OF SYDNEY Community GARDENS
The team comprising of Kylie Mak and myself, looked into Sydney Community Gardens to see if there was a way to enhance the overall user experience.
Research, contextual enquiries, co writing and conducting of interviews, creation of personas and journey maps, ideation, user testing, UI design and Illustration.
What’s the problem?
The majority of apartment dwellers in Sydney lack contact with nature and have limited access to gardens. This may lead to a potential disconnection with the community and nature.
How can we fix it?
To cultivate and promote a vibrant community where knowledge and experience is shared by connecting people with their community garden.
Existing avenues were looked into to find the current method of joining a community garden. We found the council and government websites difficult to navigate and clunky, making it hard to find information about the gardens and join them.
We visited the Cooper Park community garden to see first hand how the garden was run and used. There were several free plots but no information displayed about the gardens or how to join them. This let us know that there was room to expand the users and reinforced our thoughts that information about the gardens needed to be more easily accessed.
We interviewed 12 participants with varied gardening experience. We wanted to understand what the perceptions, and demand might be of the gardens. Some key takeaways were…
Personas were created with our interview findings, with our primary persona being Bert Tasill, the novice gardener. Fleshing out his identity helped us address his needs and define the project.
From there a journey map was created for Bert to help us understand the stages he might go through in accessing the gardens. This helped us to work out the steps we needed to take to make this happen.
Seeds of Sydney
Looking at the journey map, we realised the priority was to make a smoother, synthesised experience for the community gardens, so Seeds of Sydney was created. Putting all of the information about Sydney’s community gardens in one easy to use location.
Engaging the user
From user research we found that people were unaware that there was a garden in their area, as gardens are often tucked away in the inner suburbs. To spread awareness branded Seeds of Sydney seed packets would be distributed with a QR code linking them to a download for the app.
We first looked at the essential steps that users would need to connect with the gardens. The main function is to register the users and help them find and join their closest garden. We quickly learned that the screens we made were too pushy. If we wanted to make conversions, we needed to guide the user, and not push them.
We got to work on remedying this making several iterations, solving many of the issues that user testing bought up. We now wanted to flesh the app out to make the users want to come back.
Weather updates, from a collaboration with BOM would let the users now how much rainfall has occurred over their garden and notifying them if they might need to water their plants. Push notifications could be set to let them know if rain fall was low that week.
Lastly, we added in a community chat section that would redirect to Slack, helping to maintain a more realistic budget. This would allow communities to organise and communicate a consistent platform.
We would plan on doing more user testing, specifically to see if a “Veggie Swapper” feature is needed, or if the Slack Seeds of Sydney chat would be sufficient.
We’d also like to look into a gamification feature of a virtual garden that would reflect how the users plot is growing, with the user updating the app with type of produce and watering schedule. The main purpose for this would be to let the user know the status of their plot and if anything needed to be done to help their plants grow.
We feel that we addressed the main issues of communication with Sydney’s community gardens and believe that this could be a useful app in connecting Sydney Siders with their local gardens.
This was my first UX project so it was a big learning curb for me. A key take away for me was that I learnt to continue to make iterations and adapt to the project as it was going, not getting attached or hung up on aspects that might not be working. I believe this created a much stronger project in the end.