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Proposal Process

Challenge:  Landscape design proposals are a lengthy process, often involving several different people during the various steps. Difficulties with collaborating and communicating can "make or break" the job.

My role:  UX Researcher/Designer

The Team:  2 UX Researcher/Designers, 1 Professor (Mentor)

The Timeline:  3 months (from group formation to final deliverable)


The problem:  Landscape design professionals face collaboration and communication problems during the design proposal process. Issues from scheduling to resources can create rifts in the client-professional relationship. 

The solution:  Research and identify specific issues to be addressed in a later prototype for a system that helps with landscape design proposals.

Professionals' Pain Points

  • Collected information can take many forms and be stored in several places

  • Notes about design can be easily missed by others

  • Referencing photos or past work is difficult and tedious

  • Managing versions for multiple clients takes time and lots of storage space

  • Tracking some client conversations and information is impossible


Clients' Pain Points

  • Project timeline is often unknown or unclear

  • Proposals are not offered in multiple formats (digital and print)

  • Lack of clarity (and visualization) about some of the professional's design ideas

Solution Values


  • Integrations needed to upload data for quicker design creations (e.g., uploading a plot plan’s measurements)

  • Input for project requirements as well as taking notes about parts of the design

  • Version tracking/history and connecting multiple different designs for the same customer

  • Easy and quick way to show photos of past work and online images



  • Information tracking and retention, e.g. phone calls

  • Timeline about the project's start date, duration, and approximate end date

Design Process

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My Role

Researched a competitor's software and reviewed three articles related to technologies within the landscaping and landscape design industry. Developed scripts and protocols for and conducted contextual inquiries with landscape design professionals who had experience with the design proposal process. Created a persona of the landscape design professional as well as a sequence model detailing the design proposal process, which included a supplemental physical model. Collaboratively deduced requirements from the findings and models about the professional and clients.

Deliverables included:

  • Competitive Analysis

  • Literature Review

  • Contextual Inquiries with Professionals

  • Interviews with Clients

  • Persona Models (1 professional, 1 client)

  • Activity Model (Sequence Model, supplemented with Physical Model)

  • Requirements Identification

  • Comprehensive Report of Research

Competitive Analysis

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All-in-one management solution.


Solution primarily for proposals and billing management.

Key functions/features, UI elements, and UX aspects were analyzed to provide a better sense of current products' capabilities and determine what information needed to be obtained during field research. 


  • CRM supported

  • Project and time management supported

  • Marketing initiatives supported

  • Quoting (proposals), billing, and payment supported

  • Many user types and company locations (or divisions) supported

  • Graphical and tabular reports for many avenues of information

  • Real-time updating

  • Several integrations supported

  • Mostly files uploading to associate proposals and clients

  • Both web and mobile applications

Literature Review

Technologies supporting landscape design: 

  • LiDAR and point cloud modeling for vegetation

  • Landscape Information Modeling (LIM)

  • 3D renderings and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) or simulations

Other information (used in field research):

  • Tracking market trends

  • Focusing on client needs

Key Insights

  • Interactions needed between models and data

  • Integrations are crucial for a holistic system

  • Important to include clients in the research

Field Research

Contextual Inquiries with Landscape Professionals


  1. Learn about the general landscape design process

  2. Learn the various steps and methods used in the design proposal process

  3. Reveal frustrations with current software and processes to identify areas of opportunity (secondary goal)

  4. Identify the lifecycle of a project (secondary goal) 

In-Person Interviews with Clients


  1. Learn about clients’ needs and the process for finding a company

  2. Discover what clients like/dislike about the proposal they received

  3. Learn more about expectations for the project


  1. The general steps are contacting the company, expressing needs/wants, surveying property or site, clarifying other necessities (measurements, priorities, etc.), and approving and starting the job. 

  2. Client visits often happen in different ways, but these visits have a greeting (beginning), surveying (middle), and closing (end) phase.

  3. Designs are not always designed in full in the software by the main creator of the design.

  4. Managing many versions and lots of client data is difficult and time-consuming.

  5. Designs often require showing clients photos and images quickly to suggest some ideas and spark others. 

  6. Designs for proposals are both functional and “artsy” for the client. 

  7. Designs for proposals are not designed with a restricted budget in mind.


  1. The clients feel that landscape company websites do not provide enough information (e.g., lack of visuals and pictures).

  2. One of the participants expressed frustration with the process of signing up to multiple sites to get a quotation and the process being tedious.

  3. More images and visuals are appreciated on the website as well as proposals. Clients do not have a preference over digital or hard-copy proposals, however, hard-copy proposals tend to get lost.

  4. Clients require clear communication about how long the process will take, and when it will start should be in the proposal.

  5. Clients are more likely to choose a company where they have contacts personally or through a mutual contact over going for a new company from a website.


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Landscape Client

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A secondary user persona was developed to support the primary user persona. Josh was a reminder about the goals, frustrations, and pain points for the client, who the main user is serving. 

Despite a lack of participants, two demographically different professionals provided similar information regarding design proposals, resulting in a primary user persona identifying several goals, frustrations, and pain points for landscape design professionals. 

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Landscape Design Professional



Sequence Model

A representation of the steps involved for both the client and professional from client inception to the start of the project.

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Physical Model

A representation of the general process during a client site visit, color-coded to show where the steps of the sequence model occur.

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