Mia MacDonald Patch

  • Tauira / Student
    Mia MacDonald
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Tanya Waisbrod, Keryn Christiansen
  • School
    AUT Art + Design

Patch is a gardening application for beginners, to address the problem of how to make vegetable gardening accessible and achievable for beginners. This project initially started with a broad research inquiry into the climate crisis and the damage of methane gases in landfills in New Zealand. I carried out detailed investigations into composting practices and the benefits of people growing their food as ways to reduce this problem or mitigate the severity of it. I recruited six people to interview who had varying levels of gardening experience, which was beneficial for gathering diverse information and learning from users’ mistakes, thoughts, stories, and advice on gardening and composting.

Offering digital tools and information to assist users in creating a successful garden, Patch reduces the likelihood of trial and error, saving plants, time, and energy in the process. The delivery of seeds to users seasonally includes vegetables, herbs, and flowers for companion planting and to attract bees for a balanced garden. The application provides information on soil quality and composting to set up your garden and pest identification, including how to eradicate common pests. The most beneficial feature, as tested in user testing sessions, is the garden tracker, which uses a calendar format to record what seeds have been planted, then predict the future harvesting date. The garden tracker is set up for users to input the date they plant particular seeds then Patch will send notification reminders to users on when to water, weed, fertilise or harvest their garden. As a resource, Patch would keep users engaged on an ongoing basis, providing valuable information in one place.

The prototype was informed by a user journey map, as it shifted from low to mid to high fidelity and it was user tested with eight representative users along the way. The user testing sessions helped to inform relevant design changes and pivots in direction while keeping the user as the focus throughout the entire process. I used my research to guide the colour selection, inspired by vegetables, plants, and garden environments. Colour was applied in a method to create a flexible design system, adapting to suit different pages but always staying in theme. The text styles, sizes, and headings had to remain consistent across the screens, creating a clear visual hierarchy to make it an enjoyable experience for users to navigate. The radish logo for Patch is at the top of each page, to help to bring users back to the home screen.

This application concept would be a useful product for users as it would equip beginner gardeners with relevant tools and advice while delivering seeds that are in season. The garden tracker, pest advice, soil quality information, and notifications will assist users in having a healthy and thriving garden each season. Based on the user testing feedback, it would be well received by users and simple to market as there isn’t a gardening-based app in New Zealand at the moment.