Let's go save some food!
Food Awakening alleviates the challenges Canadians face when dealing with food waste. It allows each household to conveniently track their perishable purchases, receive reminders to use their food, get customized recipes based on what’s in their fridge, and earn rewards for saving food from going to waste.
Food Awakening was created during a design sprint along with 3 other teammates for my UX Design Diploma program at BrainStation. The entire app design process was accomplished over 9 days remotely while completing various other assignments simultaneously. This was my very first design print.
Role: UX Research, Writer, Wireframing, Prototyping, Usability Testing, and UI & AI Redesign (after design sprint)
Tools: Pen & Paper, Stickies, Sketch, InVision. Adobe XD
Platform: iOS, iPhone 11 Pro/XS
Canadians are throwing out more food than they realize – food that could, at one point, have been eaten. Food that is produced but not eaten ends up in landfills and creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. When food is wasted, all the resources used to produce it are also wasted.
As a team, we explored the problem space of food waste and brainstormed ideas of how to limit if not eliminate it through the use of digital technology. We wanted to make the act of reducing food waste as something worthwhile and even fun to do.
In Canada, 58% of the food produced is wasted annually which equals to $35.5 million metric tonnes. Of that, 32% is still edible and more importantly, avoidable - that's approximately 11.2 million metric tonnes. The total financial value of this is a staggering $49.46 billion.
For the purpose of our application we wanted to narrow the problem space down to the average Canadian household. Each year, the average household wastes food that is roughly worth $1,766.
In Toronto, single family households discard 275 kilograms of food waste each year.
As a team, we each recruited 3 working professionals for qualitative, 1-on-1 interviews within a day. To better understand their experiences, we constructed 6 questions to uncover their motivations, behaviours and pain points associated with food waste. Each interviewee was asked the same set of questions to maintain consistency.
How many days of the week do you enjoy cooking food at home, and how often do you eat out?
How often do you overestimate the amount of food you will need at home when grocery shopping?
How much time do you set aside for planning food prep in a week? If not, why?
How often do you waste food at home and why?
As a guess, how much food from farm to table do you believe goes to waste in Canada?
How can disposing food waste be an activity that is less stressful and worthwhile for you to do?
Interviewees are well aware of the food waste problem in Canada and are motivated to improve their habits.
All interviewees have forgotten food in their fridge due to their busy lifestyle - leading to repurchasing or waste.
From our interviews, we uncovered people's cooking habits and their food waste knowledge on a high level. We decided to focus on minimizing food waste reduction as it is the very first step and crucial part of the entire process.
Most interviewees prefer to cook at home to be more health conscious and save money. They occasionally eat out or order takeout.
Cook At Home
Interviewees who planned their meals ahead of time
produced less food waste.
How might we track perishables in a fun and consistent way in order to reduce food waste effortlessly?
Name: Jimmy Carson
Status: In a Relationship
Occupation: Account Manager
Location: North Vancouver
Jimmy is a busy working professional and lives with Jillian, his girlfriend
Buys groceries once a week, cooks 2-3 times a week, and eats out on weekends
Living a busy lifestyle, he sometimes forgets what he has in the fridge leading to food waste
He is bored of cooking the same meals all the time
As an amateur cook, he doesn't know what meals to make with the leftover ingredients in the fridge
He wants to cook more often at home to save money and eat healthier
He wants to create meals with easy and quick recipes
He wants to know which old food is safe to eat
With our persona, Jimmy's needs in mind, we designed an app that provides solutions to his painpoints and goals. Our goal is to bring convenience and encouragement to his daily food waste reduction routine.
We want to help Jimmy track his perishables with ease. This is done by syncing his grocery bill and having food items automatically populate in the app. The app will also provide easy recipes that are catered to using ingredients already inside his fridge. At the same time, it will make food waste reduction fun and rewarding for our persona.
Last but not least, there is a camera function that allows Jimmy to perform 2 other functions. It can scan his grocery receipts to generate the perishable items in app or scan his leftover ingredients to provide receipt suggestions.
Notification from app that food is ‘dying’ HP is low. Jimmy taps on it and app opens.
Jimmy lands on ingredients page with health bars. He picks which one to ‘rescue’.
Jimmy picks a recipe suggestion, then follows instructions.
Jimmy cooks food with selected recipe while using leftover food items.
Jimmy takes photo of finished product and shares on social platform.
Jimmy can rate the recipe and comment and provide more tips.
Goes to ‘pie’ chart showing how well he did the week on food waste reduction.
Achievements screen showing his process and rewards.
Low Fidelity Wireframes
Notification screen: your food is expiring soon.
Take a photo of your creation.
Post your photo to social media and earn points.
Select your food quest: breakfast, snack, lunch, or dinner
Chart and statistics shows your food waste reduction.
Select your ingredients to join your quest.
Your rewards screen.
Select your desired recipe quest.
Map guide shows path for you to level up.
Follow instructions to create your food.
High Fidelity Wireframes
Our participants were young professionals who often struggled to track their food. Generally, they navigated without much troubles through out the app. They were very intrigued by the concept and cute characters which kept them engaged. They mentioned it was an app that they would enjoy using often. Below is a summary of the concerns addressed by our participants during usability testing.
Pick Your Party
As this was our very first time conducting usability testing, we offered little guidance for our participants. They stumbled a bit on selecting ingredients and recipes. They were used to seeing the recipe first then look for ingredients. We recognized that the game concept of using up your own ingredients can be properly explained during our onboarding process. The information architecture needed improvement as well.
The participants liked the cute characters but were confused about what each achievement entails. They didn't know how to proceed from this screen. Given the overwhelming amount of information, they did not notice "view your progress" button. This screen needs clarity improvement.
The participants thought the rewards map was attractive but lacked explanation on how it worked. We decided to enhance this screen with cues that can provide clarity and direction.
After the design sprint, I decided to reiterate the app by redesigning the user interface and information architecture.
As you can see in my final design, I redesigned the UI to make the app look more minimalistic and simple. I wanted to avoid overwhelming the screen for users as the characters and photos are very colourful and engaging already. I changed the tab bar to include only 3 icons with both active and inactive states. I added micro interactions to improve engagement and the overall experience of the app. I also modified the copy and information architecture to improve the flow of the app.
This was my very first experience with design sprint. I learned how to create a user-centric digital product within a comprehensive design project cycle. This included conceptualizing, wireframing, designing, and prototyping a high fidelity mobile app.
By working in a remote team for 9 days, I learned how to communicate and collaborate effectively. I was in a group with 3 other classmates; bringing our strengths and challenging each other to do better. Since we only had 9 days, it was essential for us to manage our time wisely. It was easy to dive deep into certain tasks such as research and UI design. I learned how to stay focused and move on when it was needed.
If given more time, I would like to build out a second task flow that's focused on sharing the cooking experience on social media. This would allow users to show off their cooking skills to family and friends and shine light to the application itself. I would also like to expand on the details of the progress and rewards portion of the app. This would provide more clarity on how the rewards system work and motivate users to use the app more frequently.
The Food Awakening app would ultimately benefit from partnering up with grocery stores. Each user's purchase can automatically populate in the app via the cashier or their receipts can be scanned via camera function. This also ties into the app's reward system - users earn points to redeem for rewards at the grocery store they buy from.