Jason Dziak

Scotts Miracle-Gro

Connected Yard IoT Platform

Gro

An assistant to help get more joy from your outdoor space

Properly maintained lawns and gardens provide people with enjoyment, better health, and increased home value. We’ve observed they are challenging to start and maintain because customers lack confidence, encouragement, and inspiration.

The Scotts customer call center data uncovered a large amount of current customers do not repeat their purchases due to a lack of perceived success. Scotts Miracle Gro has the opportunity to leverage their deep expertise and product catalogue to help customers see success through further guidance. Delivering this value to customers will increase their loyalty and drive increased revenue.

How might we help more people feel successful in caring for their lawn and garden?

The MVP focused on the novice gardener as our primary user. The app used location data to identify USDA hardiness zones, soil type, and weather to recommend garden projects most likely to be successful. The data is also used to provide daily instructions on how to start and maintain the plants based on plans developed by Scotts’ botanists that would adapt to current weather conditions and user’s activity.

Intelligence, Inspiration, and Instruction

The intelligent assistant always has a plan for success that is contextually aware of the user’s environment, interests and progress. Overall the experience is fun, smart, practical and action oriented. The pressure of creating the perfect garden is lowered by using illustrations and a voice that is fresh and bold. Part of feeling more success is to set expectations and be prepared to adapt, not point out failure. Gro is your good friend who happens to have a freaky-good knowledge of all things green.

Impact

Together with GRO Connect (smart irrigation system) the MVP validated the business case for the Connected Yard strategy. The current version of the app (My Garden: Inspiration to Grow) maintains a 4+ star rating in the App Store and continues to help people get joy out of their outdoor space.

“...this app has been inspiring and has helped me learn some great basics as well. Love the illustrations and step by step help.”

- Gardening Newbie,  App Store

Our Approach

With a ten month release deadline and a team to build we decided a rapid iterative design approach would allow us to learn quickly and grow. Design sprints and Lean UX methods enabled us to get our biggest assumptions in front of users for feedback within a few weeks of kicking off the work. We met several times a week to gather inputs and data from Scotts stakeholders and subject matter experts. Prototypes and experiments were developed and tested with users every two weeks. This included synthesizing data and updating the core product team and stakeholders.  

As we converged and defined the most valuable aspects of the product we were able to identify additional talent needed. As new team members were on-boarded I was able to handover design and content responsibilities to focus on continuing to scale the team.

Highest Risk Assumption

Dashboard or Assistant? A few months into our sprints a high risk assumption was identified and needed to be validated. It would fundamentally define the way the product would deliver intelligence. Our assumption was “People want to have a deeper understanding of their lawn and garden data in order to decide what action to take.” This also had significant implications on the feasibility of the possible solutions.

In order to learn we leveraged user interviews, prototypes, and Scotts call center data to understand sentiment. What we found was people gravitated to the idea of proactive gardening assistance and often needed assistance with the fundamentals. Users even referred to the product a “buddy” or “pal”. While the data visualizations were noticed they did not actually help them feel inspired or more successful. We also learned that the notion of a “connected yard” was not well understood.

We decided to pivot. Our most valuable users wanted highly relevant advice and instruction. They trusted the product was smart and trying to reinforce it with more data only got in the way of the real value and our ability to deliver it.

As a result we added more content experts to the team and researched instructional design best practices. We discovered significant gaps in high-quality instruction content for gardening projects. This decision defined the central purpose of the app; intelligence, inspiration, and instruction.

The Team

My contrbutions included partnering with cross-functional stakeholders to define a shared vision and approach for launching and sustaining the product. I conducted and synthesized user research, contributed directly to information architecture, interaction design, visual design, and prototyping while building and hiring a product design and content team.

As the product design team onboarded, I pivoted to a strategic role to lead efforts for defining the brand voice, visual identity, content strategy and asset production based on customer insights and validation. I had the pleasure to work with three product designers, a content strategist, copywriter, illustrator, program manager, product manager and an off-shore development team.

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