Earthworm: UX Research
Conducting interviews to smooth the sign up process and site wide structure.

Website mockups displayed on a dark blue background.


Earthworm was a startup matching gardeners with homeowners who rent out areas of their yard for gardening, in exchange for money or some of the produce grown.

I initially joined the team as a remote graphic designer in the beginning of summer 2020. Towards the end however, there were concerns about lack of signups, so I pitched a UX project to interview potential clients in order to uncover pain points and increase signups.




2 Weeks:
September 2020

My Role

• Interviewer
• UX Researcher
• UX Designer
• Graphic Designer


Earthworm was struggling to acquire new users for their web application. I proposed to interview potential clients from their target audience and perform usability testing.


The signup process was confusing because there was no differentiation between the different Gardener and Homeowner roles.

Additionally, another deterrent was the site’s messy information architecture. A lot of the information was repetitive, resulting in visitors being confused about their location within the site, and having trouble finding information they were looking for.


Restructure the information architecture of the site.

1. Interviews

2. Four Insights

Conducted over Zoom, I interviewed 8 people; 3 homeowners who were interested in renting out their yard and 5 gardeners.

Profile pictures of the 3 homeowners and 5 gardeners interviewed.

These interviews taught me that visitors felt the site really pushed them to sign up, but they had difficulty finding information about the different roles.

Additionally, information was thrown in their face, which got overwhelming fast and often led to difficulty understanding the benefits of what the service was really trying to do.

Interview Notes

Picture of handwritten highlighted interview notes.
Picture of handwritten highlighted interview notes.
Picture of handwritten highlighted interview notes.

After categorizing the notes I took during each interview, it became clear to me that what was needed most was a better content structure. Information needed to be divided when necessary and only showing more detailed information if the user wanted to see it, not by default.

This led me to develop 4 insights as to why sign ups were lacking; poor navigation, confusing buttons, repeat information, and too many options in the sign up process.

1. Poor Navigation

Solution: Separate the Homepage from the Gardener page, and add respective buttons to the nav.

The first insight was the different patterns of navigation throughout the site. The Gardener page acted as the Home page (shown below), but was not labelled on the nav bar. This confused all the Gardeners while they were exploring and learning about the site, and since it was not labelled in the nav, they were unsure how to get back or where they initially saw the Gardener sign up.

Home / Gardener Page

Screenshot of the navbar with no home or gardener options clearly labeled.

Notice how there are no clearly defined "Home" or "Gardener" pages.


An easy solution would be to separate the Gardener from the Homepage, and add buttons to the nav. The Homepage could include a brief rundown of what the roles offer, and then buttons that take visitors to the page of each role.

2. Confusing Buttons

Solution: Remove button or change it to "Learn More".

On the Home / Gardener and Homeowner pages, there was a button next to the green Sign Up button found on the hero image.

At first glance, these buttons appear to be part of the sign up process. However they actually redirect users to the page of the other role. This confused every person I interviewed.

Home / Gardener Page

Screenshot of the Home / Gardener hero with a button leading to the Homeowner page, which confused visitors.

"Rent out your backyard” on the Home / Gardener page took visitors to the Homeowner page.

Homeowner Page

Screenshot of the Homeowner hero with a button leading to the Home / Gardener page, which confused visitors.

“Become an earthworm gardener” on the Homeowner page took visitors to the Home / Gardener page.


Either remove the button entirely or change it to a "Learn More" button, where the visitor can read more about the respective role.

3. Unclear Feedback Forms

Solution: Rewrite description so form purpose and role are clear.

Feedback forms were found on both Home / Gardener and Homeowner pages, which asked visitors how they could improve their website and app.

However, the information presented did not clearly convey that the “Get Started” button would lead to the feedback form, which had questions similar to account creation, but didn’t actually sign visitors up for the service.

These forms led to confusion, since some had already signed up when they discovered them. For those who had not already signed up, it was unclear if they were the beginning of the sign up process or if it was something else.

Additionally, there was little to no distinction between the two forms, resulting in repeated information and visitors losing track of their location within the site.

Screenshot of confusing information found on the Home / Gardener pages.

The same unclear information was found on both Home / Gardener and Homeowner pages (above), but led to different forms (below).

Home / Gardener and Homeowner Pages

Home / Gardener Form

Screenshot of an optional interest form from the Home / Gardener page.

Homeowner Form

Screenshot of an optional interest form from the Homeowner page.

Visitors were confused about the purpose of the feedback forms since they were both very similar and had an unclear purpose.


By rewriting the feedback form descriptions and renaming the buttons on the webpage, visitors would understand what to expect and what the forms ask for, minimizing overall account creation confusion.

4. Too Many Sign Up Options

Solution: Separate the Gardener and Homeowner account creation.

Earthworm allowed Gardeners the option to rent out plots from city-dwelling Homeowner and Community Garden listings, or to get paid to garden.

While signing up, “I am a” and “Gardening Preferences” included a;; sub-categories of both roles. This caused a great deal of hesitation, and some users began questioning their intentions or what they were actually signing up for.

Screenshot of the login options.

Additionally, most users were only interested in being just a Gardener or just a Homeowner, but there were a couple who were interested in both. However, it was unclear to them if they should have two separate accounts


By separating Gardener and Homeowner account creation roles, confusion would be minimized and account creation would be streamlined.

Sign Up Flowchart

Based on my findings, I reorganized the sign up process by clearly indicating that the options were Business Profile, Gardener Profile, and Homeowner Profile.

Stakeholders wanted the ability to have multiple profiles for one account, however I emphasized that additional roles / profiles could be made later on, since creating more than one during the initial account creation step was confusing.

Sign up flowchart.

Information Architecture

For the Information Architecture, clearly organizing and separating relevant information on specific pages was the obvious way to go, so that visitors could understand their location within the site.

Information architecture map.

Wireframe sketch of the nav bar & footer.

Nav Bar & Footer

Wireframe sketch of the Gardener & Homeowner pages.


Wireframe sketch of the Gardener & Homeowner pages.

Gardener & Homeowner Pages

I made sure the landing page introduces the company and the services they provide, making it easy to understand the company and what they offer. Visitors can then easily choose options to learn more.

The nav bar includes buttons for Gardeners and Homeowners, with information about each role found only on those pages.

Additionally, using clear titles over hero images helps visitors understand where they are within the site, and what page they’re on.

Homepage hero & description mockup.


Gardener hero & description mockup.


Homeowner hero & description mockup.


When I pitched this project, I really had no idea what to expect, and I was surprised with the insights I found. I felt like I learned so much; from articulating the issues to dubious supervisors, managing my time in an efficient manner, to learning that visuals for everything I’m explaining is absolutely necessary (Which was definitely a rookie mistake, but hey, I only started learning graphic design and UX earlier that year!).

Unfortunately, the company went defunct only a couple months after my internship ended. But even to this day, the lessons I learned from working with Earthworm still come in handy, and I think this internship was invaluable for my career growth.

While I managed to find the bumps throughout Earthworm’s web application and sign up process, I would have really liked to go back and do another round of interviews once the content structure was strengthened. I also would have liked to further refine the content structure of each page and present mockups of the signup process, but the internship was nearing its end for the summer.

Next time I work on a project like this, I would like to work with another person ideally. I think it would also be beneficial to be more organized as I found that to be a challenge in the beginning.