Plant Pals

Literature Review // Embedded Design


Plant Pals is a task/time management app that uses a virtual pet (your Plant Pal) to help establish good work-break habits. It's geared towards college students who tend to have a hard time with balancing work and life. At its simplest, the app has the user take breaks to take care of the virtual pet, which symbolizes the healthy habits the user has formed.

The final version of this project is an app mockup and a paper. I was working in a team of four, the other three members being designers. My job was mostly to make sure that the embedded design fundamentals were present in our project, and to assist in the design wherever possible.

Project Description
Work with a team to iteratively design, test, and create a demo-ready prototype of a novel persuasive technology. The prototype may be either non-digital or digital, but deeply informed by theory and prior research on persuasion and/or social influence.
Process
Our paper highlights the details of the process. We first conducted a literature review and highlighted the important/relevant portions of each study. This led us to create a virtual pet and to-do app that had effectiveness on a psychological basis. This "effectiveness" took the form of features such as immediate offering of rewards and break suggestions that were work-unrelated but mildly stimulating.

After that, we conducted a poll to see how people generally use to-do apps (for example, to what extent does the user employ their app to help take breaks). From here we created a paper prototype of our app, shown below.
Some user testing showed us that in addition to making the UI itself simpler, we should make simple break suggestions to be paired with tasks. This led us to the low-fi prototype, some of which is shown below.
From our low-fi prototype, we got feedback that affirmed our designs up until that point. We refined our visual and typographical style, then set out creating our final prototype.
Our project culminated in our app prototype created in Adobe XD as well as a research paper. The paper and a video of our app in use can be viewed from the links below.
Final Product and Takeaways