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Universal Studio
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Plant it Forward Farms

Client: Plant it Forward Farms, Speculative
Timeline: Sept – Oct 2019, 2 weeks
Deliverables: Website prototype, Branding
Team: Self-directed, with feedback from mentor and peers
Role: UX/UI Designer
Tools: Sketch, Illustrator, InVision


Founded in 2011, Plant it Forward Farms is a Houston-based nonprofit organization with the mission to help resettled refugees find meaningful work and earn fair wages through urban farming business opportunities. Houston settles more refugees than any other city in the country and they help those refugees become self-reliant entrepreneurs who can support their families and help the city grow.

Plant it Forward Farms provides refugees with the tools, training, and business skills needed to become entrepreneurial urban farmers. The farmers, in turn, provide Houstonians with locally grown, chemical-free, fresh produce at farm stands, farmers’ markets, restaurants, and through weekly farm share subscriptions.


• Redesign the responsive website of Plant it Forward Farms. Carefully consider what role the website plays in the purchase process
• Develop or extend coherent branding that aligns with Plant it Forward Farms’s current and/or desired clientele and customer experience

01. Empathize


Market Research / Competitive Analysis / Provisional Personas / Heuristic Evaluation / User Interviews /  Empathy Map / User Persona

Market Research

To begin conducting secondary research I gathered and analyzed existing trends, data, and insights to learn more about refugees in Houston, urban farms, food service and non-profit trends. This helped me understand the industry and provide guidance in creating user personas.

Refugee Population in Houston

Harris County alone welcomes about 30 of every 1,000 refugees that the U.N. resettles anywhere in the world – more than any other American city, and more than most other nations. If Houston were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for refugee resettlement.

Urban Farming

Smaller scale local markets provide the opportunity for farmers to foster more unique varieties of produce. These farms preserve biodiversity by cultivating heirloom varieties or those with lower shelf-stability. The proximity and connectedness to market allows for fresh, nutritious produce to become available to communities that have never had access to this in the past.

By virtue of their proximity to consumers, urban farms stimulate local economy by circulating income throughout the region. Without a complicated distribution network, farmers are more connected to their market and able to adapt quickly to demand, maximizing profit. In addition, many of these organizations are structured in a way that brings additional benefit to the community and support to low income populations by stabilizing food costs and, in many cases, offering discounted or free produce.

A Shift in Consumer Values

A new era of sustainability is rising, and it’s touching every corner of the world. Consumers in markets big and small are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally conscious and are exercising their power and voice through the products they buy. But why do these shifts feel so urgent? There is mounting evidence to support that in many parts of the world, sustainability has become a life and death matter.

A survey of more than 800 people found that 84% of respondents check where their food has come from either ‘all’, ‘most’ or ‘some’ of the time. It also found that two-thirds (66%) are either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ concerned about where their food has come from, while 68% said that origin of food is either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ important in influencing purchasing decisions.

Provisional Personas

Based on secondary research, I created 3 provisional personas of typical local organic produce shoppers. These personas helped to recruit the appropriate subjects for user interviews and to begin the ideation process.

User Interviews

I visited two local farmers’ markets to successfully recruit 5 participants that likely already have interest and experience shopping for local produce. I used an interview guide to conduct one-on-one sessions with the participants and recorded their answers.


Determine the pain points users have when shopping for local organic products
• Identify what is important to those shopping for local organic products
• Uncover who will shop from PIFF and why
• Identify market trends in online local organic produce delivery services

Empathy Map

I wrote my observations on post-its color coded by participant. From there, I could find common threads in order to discover insights to define the needs of my users.


Users worry about the freshness of their food
• Users feel that ordering food online is more convenient than sourcing local food
Users want to be able to choose their exact produce
• Users feel like local food is more expensive than food from the big grocery chain


Have access to food that will stay fresh longer
• Be able to order local food online
• Have freedom to choose their own food according to their meal plan
• Have access to moderately priced local food


User Persona

Based on primary and secondary research I created a persona of a fresh local produce shopper. The fictional user, Kerrie, helped to inform an app map, task flows, and a user flow later on down the road.

02. Define & Ideate


POV & HMW Questions / Brainstorm / Business & User Goals / Sitemap / Task Flows/ User Flow / Low Fidelity Wireframe Sketches / High Fidelity Wireframe / High Fidelity Prototype / Usability Testing

POV & HMW Questions

I used the research findings to develop “point of view” and “how might we” questions to be used as thought starters for a brainstorming exercise.


I spent around 10-15 minutes brainstorming possible solutions for each HMW question. The idea here was not to find the perfect solution, but to generate ideas quickly that could be designed for testing.

Business Goals

•  Have a new, modern brand
•  Have a redesigned responsive website
•  Create a a more shoppable site to better distribute their farmers’ produce
•  Build local brand recognition

User Goals

•  Purchase food for her family
•  Save time
•  Meal plan effectively
•  Stay within budget

Site Map

Based on the idea generation exercise, sketches, and competitive analysis, I developed the high level organization of my pages and sub pages. This will serve as a working document as I build out the site.

Task Flows

I created 3 possible task flows for the users to inform the wireframes for testing.

User Flow

I created a a possible route for the user to purchase produce. In this version I show key action and decision points in the purchase process.

Low-Fidelity Wireframe Sketches

Based on the outcome of the ideation process, I began to sketch out the specifics of each screen needed for the user to accomplish the given tasks.

03. Prototype & Test


Mid Fidelity Wireframes / Usability Testing / Visual Design / High Fidelity Prototype

Mid Fidelity Prototype

A mid fidelity, limited functioning prototype was used in order to quickly test and effectively find pain points. The prototype is currently archived and available upon request.

Usability Testing

I conducted think aloud moderated testing with 4 participants to observe their interactions with the prototype.


• You are a vegetarian and craving lasagna. How might you add a veggie lasagna meal kit to your cart?
• You just need 1 lb of asparagus. How might you add that to your cart?

Affinity Map

Using the findings from the usability testing I used post-its to assign a color to each participant. I was pulling out key pain points in order to revise the prototype before beginning high fidelity design.


• 3/4 of users initially clicked the search above the tabs, but became confused when it didn’t search within “Meal kits” or “A La Carte”
•  3/4 of users paused or clicked on the headers instead of scrolling down to the tab system right away

Priority Revisions

Based on my usability testing, the following updates will be made to the high fidelity prototype:

1.  Move search bar next to filters
2. Remove 3 paragraphs above tab system. More description will be added to the homepage.

Visual Design

The new identity for Plant it Forward Farms is based on the 4 aspirational brand adjectives: fresh, authentic, down to earth, and high quality. The logo illustrates a farm landscape in a modern, optimistic way.

High Fidelity Prototype

I used the visual design study to inform the look and feel of my high fidelity prototype. With a more realistic representation of the site, I can continue to test with more users. The prototype is currently archived and available upon request.


During the process of this project, I learned the importance of the empathize phase, even for a simple local business site redesign. I can attest that this site would look and function differently if I did not continuously run my design back through the “insights” and “needs” of my users.

Next Steps

•  Build out additional pages of the site
•  Continue to test and iterate the site