The disconnect felt by many city dwellers and nature has left many yearning to green the grey space in which the live. Indeed, growing food has now re-established itself as a trendy and fun past time. An activity that has the real world benefit of producing tasty, fresh produce and imbuing the gardener with that sense of satisfaction that can only be achieved through positive, eco-friendly behaviour. However, the bulk of people in today’s cramped, fast paced city environments don’t not have the time nor energy to begin tackling learning how to home grow on their own. Likewise, the motivation felt by many a budding novice grower can be easily flattened without the positive effects of community engagement. Creating positive routines can be boring and lead novice home growers to abandon their home growing adventure.

During the course of this research phase of this project the author gained valuable insight into the motivations and needs of British city dwellers. Firstly, answers from survey with 100 responses allowed the author to narrow the potential target user group. While, having in depth interviews with 3 different types of home grower (the expert, intermediates and novices) painted a clear picture of the needs of a representative cross section of British people with access to private space in which they could grow food. Out of this research, Herby was born.

Herby is the only gamified home growing starter kit and accompanying application for novice food growers in the United Kingdom that uses gamification techniques to remind, encourage and teach the user real-world growing skills, guiding the user through Herby’s in application virtual assistant and engaging the user with the broader Herby community.

Herby uses meaningful gamification techniques in order to motivate and encourage novice gardeners to learn new habits and avoid app fatigue.

Herby’s chatbot assistant can be personalised to fit the user’s needs, by adjusting the chatbots personality and persistence in the set-up the user is able to find a balance that fits their needs.

By proactively engaging users and giving suggestions to join Herby groups that fit the users’ interests, location etc. Herbot allows users to stay connected and engaged with the Herby community.

Sharing your personalised grow journey GIF via social media, allows users to show their social network that they are making a difference and are part of the ‘home growing’ revolution.

Herby’s community allows users to engage and socialise with other users, positively reinforcing the user’s habit-forming process.

Reminders and notifications are scheduled around the user with the Herby’s chatbot providing a more human interaction that tackles the fatigue many users associate with task lists and reminders

Interaction modality

Herby is a multi-touchpoint home growing solution comprised of an application and an Herby starter kit (dehydrated, nutrient enriched soil, eco-friendly felt planter and organic herb seed varieties). The user physically interacts with the starter kit by tend-ing to it and taking daily photos of their herby’s progress. Users interact with the appli-cation in a number of ways. The main interaction point is Herbot, the application virtual assistant. Through Herbot the user will receive daily tasks, feedback, and be able to troubleshoot. Herbot will also be the bridge or social organiser of the community el-ement of the Herby application, prompting interactions between users via Herby Groups. The user will also interact with the application similarly to a forum or group messaging service, creating bonds and posting stories or updates.

User Experience

The user experience has been designed to elicit a sense of fun and connectedness. The application adopts meaningful gamification techniques to promote app enjoyment and bring more fun to the initial difficulty of successful home growing. The application has also been designed to promote a sense of connectedness in its users, with the communal and social elements being core concepts in the applications experience design.


Herby was developed using adobe XD, while the physical touchpoints were adapted from store bought products as the current global pandemic prohibited the author from using the design lab equipment.

Research and Development Context

Herby touches on a number of key areas that have significant insights in a research and development context. Firstly, multiparty chatbot systems are currently in their infancy and the development of a genuinely intuitive, proactive, emotionally intelligent chatbot for multiparty settings would be of great benefit to the academic and corporate worlds. Secondly, there are only a small number of voices that are calling for the integration of meaningful gamification techniques in the design of services, most notable of these in Nicholson. By successfully adopting such techniques the potential of this branch of application design could be of great value to any service designed for pedagogic reasons.