Last week at Sidekick we did a hackathon – three days to make one product prototype that fulfilled three criteria: people would want to use it; it would have the potential to make money; it has a purpose. We whittled tons of ideas down to three using a complex star-voting system, to be left with the ones we split into teams to make: Sidetracked, Collectist and Greenterest.
Over the three coffee-pizza-and-curry-fuelled days, my team designed and built Greenterest (working title). The initial grand plan was to make a complex 3d drag-and-drop garden designer, laden with expert advice and a database of plants matched to your soil type, conditions and sun levels. But after a few hours of head-scratching we realised that this was way too big for a hack and also relied on knowledge that we just don’t have. So instead we embraced our lack of know-how and focused on making a web app that connects amateur but enthusiastic urban gardeners with others, to learn and share in a specially-designed social network.
The idea is it’s a bit like a Ravelry or Burda, but for green-fingered folk. I was quite amazed to find that a gardening-based social network doesn’t exist already given the general popularity of gardening, but all the current sites seemed to either cater to people who already know their loam from their mulch, or are terribly old-fashioned looking and not geared up to be socially connected. Greenterest is made for people who already Instagram their growing efforts but aren’t sure where to turn to when they get stuck.
Your Plot profile page
On the site you can create your Plot – a virtual space where you tell people about your garden, upload photos and tag your plants to find people growing similar things. It’s for anyone who grows things, whether it’s a few herbs on your windowsill or 3 acres of rolling landscaped gardens. If you don’t have a garden yet or don’t want to upload photos, you can ‘Dig’ other people’s photos and save them to your Trug – an inspiration scrapbook for your own reference.
Greenterest photo page
The hacked-together app contains just the bare minimum of functionality – you can join, upload photos and discover others – but we have ideas for loads of other features that would make this a genuinely delightful, useful site for amateur gardeners. Eventually you’ll be able to follow others and see their updates on your homepage, you can tag and follow certain plants or types of plant (veg, herbs flowers), we’ll have forums for questions and advice, and perhaps even a marketplace to trade seeds and cuttings. The possibilities are huge and exciting.
Superquick branding ideas!
I really want Greenterest to be a real thing, and I hope we can carry on developing it post-hack. My initial user-testing (a very small sample of self-volunteering Instagram friends) seemed to say it’d be a useful and fun service for urban gardeners. What do you think? Would you use it?
P.S The winning hack, Sidetracked, is a wonderful app which lets you find interesting places to stop off at on any UK train journey. Check it out here, and read about the team’s process here.