I am designing a WebAR/mobile app that lets houseplant buyers try out new plants, learn about their care requirements, and connects them to online sellers in a compact and seamless experience. 

What does houseplanter do?

Houseplanter allows users to try out various plant species and sizes in their home with augmented reality, and connects them to reputable online that sell these plants.

Users will access the WebAR site or mobile app to populate their room with vibrant 3D plants, and customize their growth and planter color. Houseplanter will drive plant sales through an experience that is useful, fun, and informative,


what problem does it solve?

Buyers: Simplified Decision-making Buyers face a multitude of very personal factors when buying a plant such as size, placement, aesthetic appeal, light, humidity, ease of care, toxicity to animals, price, and vendor. Houseplanter cuts through the confusion of buying plants through visualization. 

Vendors: Sales, Education & Engagement Vendors dedicate a lot of their online presence to blogs, articles, and videos on plant care and selection. Houseplanter not only drives sales, but aids vendors’ efforts to engage a burgeoning customer base through education. 

Who will use houseplanter?

Young, Tech-savvy Our target user is between 21 and 35. They have expendable income to spend on plants and home furnishings. Aside from houseplants, their related interests include art & design, technology, or  health & wellness.

New Renters & Homeowners Our users will be those who have recently moved into a new space – whether they’re a college grad renting their first apartment, or married couple that has bought a house. They are looking for ways to visualize and plan out their new living space. 


Hardware/Software Users must have a device that runs ARkit/ARCore, or a browser that supports WebAR.  

AR Onboarding & Environment Even users familiar with AR can get confused by scanning. The app’s features are only fully leveraged in a naturally-lit daytime setting. 

Consumer Behavior The app profits from affiliate commissions from online orders, but many buy exclusively from their local nurseries.


Houseplants are a niche but rapidly growing market in Europe and America.

  • Houseplant sales in the U.S have risen almost 50% in 3 years to $1.7 billion in 2018. – U.S Gardening Association
  •  10-15% year-on-year increase across the industry in houseplants since 2013 – Royal Horticultural Society (UK)
  •  Of the 6 million people who started gardening in 2016, 80% of them were aged 18 to 34 – National Gardening Survey

Their popularity has transformed the industry, and created a new generation of startups

  •  Bloomscape raised a $1.7 million seed round in 2018, and has grown 50% month-over-month since its launch (February 2019)
  •  The Sill raised a total of $7.5M since 2012. Sales have been up 500% year-over-year, with anticipated revenue of nearly $5 million in 2018. (August 2018)


There is no Augmented Reality app that effectively visualizes the placement of plants in one’s living space. The closest app concept-wise is IKEA Place, with 2M + downloads on Android and iOS since its release in mid-2018. 

II. RESEARCH: insights, problems, solutions

I began my user research online, on the /r/houseplants Reddit community of 190,000 users. I conducted a 10 question survey using Google Forms, yielding valuable insights. There were 35 responses:

I also visited my local nursery and had conversations with six shoppers about their plant buying habits and frustrations. Much of what I heard reflected sentiments on Reddit, forming a larger picture of houseplant consumer habits. I categorized their frustrations into Info & Learning, Plant Care, and Vendor

Categorizing buyer frustrations allowed me to map out the core features of Houseplanter. 

III. user journey MAP

Houseplanter’s goal is to reassure the user to the point they can be confident with making a purchase on the spot. 

The experience must be uncluttered and simple, while still delivering a wide variety of high fidelity plants and planters, 

IV. wireframe

Sketching out the wireframe helped me to better visualize the three main hurdles to user engagement, and how to smooth them over in the UI mockups. 

  •  EULA, camera permissions, loading, tech requirements. 
  •  Scanning for a surface, and dropping a plant into AR. 
  •  Jumping from the app to an online plant retailer’s page

v. mockupS

1. Home Screen
2. EULA + Camera Permissions
3. Plant Selection
4. AR Scene
5. Selected Plant Info
6. Selected Plant Vendors

While the end-goal of Houseplanter is to funnel users towards online retailers, the UX should still be focused on the AR and learning. I want the option to buy plants to be apparent, but not detract from a leisurely and productive experience. 


The 3D models of plants will be the core of user interaction. For users to view Houseplanter not as just a one-time tool, but as an experience to check  every time they want to add to their indoor garden, plant interaction must be fun. How can we do that? 



  • Has physics and collision – stems and leaves react slightly to being dragged around in AR, will bump against other AR plants in scene
  • Dynamic growth – scaling the plant activates a growth animation – new leaves will grow out of the soil, existing leaves will mature and darken. 
  • Low-poly, stylized with simple shapes, strong silhouettes.


  1. Select plant from Menu
  2. Briefly scan for surfaces 
  3. Tap on a highlighted surface to spawn plant
  4. One finger move, two finger rotate and scale 
  5. Take snapshot – saved to user’s gallery
  6. Add more plants to the scene, or remove existing plants by holding and dragging to the bottom of the screen.

I sketched out, modeled, and animated a snake plant in Cinema4D to mock up how plant scaling should behave in the final product. Scaling is measured by planter size (6 to 12 inches), and realistic plant growth animations will help users visualize how different plants will actually look at each size. 

vi. visual design

My concept for the visual design included descriptors such as “earthy”, “organic” and “sophisticated”. I looked at the UI design of several popular online nurseries, as well as how product photography, interior design, and illustrations depicted houseplants and their surroundings. 

I wanted to go with a punchier take on the minimalist white-and-green look that seemed ubiquitous in this space. To do this, I I chose GT Sectra Bold for headlines and titles, and Acari Sans for body text. 

I tried several patterned themes and chose a abstract variegated leaf pattern (right) as the app’s home screen. This graphic or variations on it would be used in any artwork related to the app.  

For each plant I created icons in a flat, graphic illustration style. I thought that in this case, using art rather than photos would make the experience more enjoyable and expressive to the user.