Terrarium is an app created to build meaningful and reciprocal relationships between experienced vegetable growers with inexperienced growers within the Fenham area of Newcastle.

Team Members: Grace Hill, Ellis Paul, Jo Williamson & Ho Zhi Yen
This was a live project with urban growing community Vertical Veg

Uni Project Group Work
2nd Year 2018

Problem 🤔

- Due to their workshop structure, there is no way for experienced gardeners to share their knowledge with newer growers

- Vertical Veg have no set method of communicating with their members

Goal 🧐

- Build relationships between all growers

- Make a dedicated place to advertise workshops and events

- Use technology as a supplement to the current Vertical Veg scheme

Solution 🥳

- Create a platform in which gardeners and volunteers of all experiences can communicate, inspire each other and share ideas.

Idea Generating

After a vist to Vertical Veg's Bike Garden and interviewing users, we sat down as a team and started to work out possible solutions.
The three outlined here were presented to our tutors, classmates and stakeholders.

Plant Pals

A mentorship program where both users agree to a time and aim. Upon completetion, mentors would receive perks (such as a free drink at a local cafe).


Users create a digital replica of their existing garden or build a garden they are aspiring to create. They can message through the app, offer advice and build relationships.

Veg Voice Assistant

Users pose a question to the Alexa Skill which relays the question to connected assistants in the community. Once a member accepts the question, they can either respond with a live chat or voice message.

Following the poster presentation, some market research and discussing solutions as a group, we decided to move forward with Terrarium.

A lot of Vertical Veg engagement originates from the streets, so we asked ourselves if there was any way we could encourage passersby to proactively seek more information. With Terrarium, we planned to give members unique QR codes to put in their front yards which would direct any interested passer-by to a webpage with information about the plants in that garden and the next Vertical Veg meeting

As for novices, we wanted Terrarium to instil the “don’t talk about it, be about it” mentality for novices. In other words, Terrarium has the potential to turn discussion into action.


Initial Sketches and wireframes
App Identity

One of my main roles was to develop the the app identity.

After bringing the initial sketch into Illustrator, I started to develop the icon. When I discussed it with the team, we were happy with with the concept, but felt it lacked something.

Going back into Illustrator, I redisigned the broccoli and added more colours to provide some depth. Finally placing it back into the terrarium, I added some texture, tweaked the colours and as a team, we were happy.

High(er)-Fi Wireframes

While I was creating the identity, we were also developing the next iteration of the app.

User Testing

After this creating these of hifi mockups, we showed them to a range of people between the ages of 15 and 60 years old (being that the median. Within the group (made up of family and friends) there was a wide range of gardening knowledge.


There was a lot of uncertainty about accessing the other pages but this was expected since the navigation bar was not completed.

The general consensus from all of the users was that the application looked a bit dull and conventional. One user described it as “sterile”.


Following the feedback from the user testing, we set about improving the overall look and feel of the app. At this point, we were able to apply the branding, which instantly created a more unified and legible interface.

We looked at the idea of adding elements we could animate which would add individuality. This led us to creating ‘Organic Shapes’. These are simply ellipses where at least one anchor point has been altered to create a more natural shape.

Final App

Here's a sample of screens from Terrarium. Check out the video below to see how it the app would work