Case Study — Winnow App

Winnow App is waste reduction system (consisting of a tablet connected to a scale with a bin on top) inside commercial kitchens. In a group with two brilliant UX Designers, we received the task of redesigning the Winnow App to educate (show the benefits of using the app), simplify (error handling and Customer Support process), and engage users (to improve the willingness of using the app).

Flavio Lamenza
Draft · 6 min read

This project was a two week sprint. We designed for an Android tablet.

How does Winnow works?

Winnow produces technology to help chefs measure, monitor and dramatically reduce food waste.

Winnow Process
  1. Small scale on floor with a Bin on top of it.
  2. The tablet with Android app is connected to the scale via bluetooth.
  3. Waste is thrown in bin, weight automatically recorded.
  4. User Inputs data to categorise the type of waste.
  5. Wifi is then used to send data to Winnow so they can send back reports.


Low level of engagement by users (kitchen staff) and lack of alerts if scale disconnects from Bluetooth or Wifi.


To streamline the categorisation process and also providing walkthrough so users can solve the connection problem.

First step: Competitive Analysis

We analysed the direct and indirect competitors. The key takeaway is that most players only deal with leftovers or donate the excess to charity.

Stakeholder Meeting

The key takeaways from the stakeholder meeting were:

  1. Engagement — Users would look at the app but would not feel encouraged to categorise waste.
  2. Start Screen — This is the first point of contact between the user and the system. How likely is the user to engage with the app right away?
  3. Scale Calibration — If scale looses connection with tablet what happens?
  4. Network — Users don't know if wifi connection is down.
  5. Covers and Sales — The number of customers (or tables in a restaurant) X sales.
Statistics provided by their Customer Support team.

Above we see the current pain points from customer service. Their customer service provided statistics telling us that 65% of open tickets are in regards to network (Wifi) problems. At this moment they spend 20 hours in average dealing with customer service and out of this total, 15 hours are only to help users with Wifi problems. So if we also tackle this problem we can give them back 15h to deal with more high profile issues.

Summary of the Research

3 contextual inquiries — We could see how Winnow’s tablet was set up and how users interacted with it in the kitchen.

33 Surveys — We could find, for example, that only 58% of kitchens recorded food waste.

14 interviews — One key information was 74% of users still use pen and paper to record waste.

20 user tests — We conducted tests with Chefs, Kitchen Porters and non-kitchen staff to grab the best insights and reviews.

We identified five key takeaways from our User Research:

Speed: The speed to input data is imperative to have the best engagement with users. In the strict timetable and fast paced environment of a commercial kitchen, our interviewees told us that they are more likely to interact with an app for as fast and using less steps as possible.

Inputting Data: How to remove the excess and add what is meaningful while categorising waste? Efficient categorisation is essential. Most interviewees only wanted to categorise the following details: Product, reason and weight.

Methods Used: Based on our interviews and observational analysis, most kitchens still use pen and paper to record waste. Most of our interviewees were not used to categorise waste using technology. The only technological gear they used were the kitchen appliances. They are keen to use if it improve their time and if the learning curve is fast and intuitive.

Responsibility: Junior Chefs were reluctant to record waste in case they might make any mistake. By increasing accuracy, users would feel more confident to perform the task and take responsibility.

Visual: The design is made for the kitchen staff. Within so many nationalities, it is important that the app has no language barrier and a clear layout. In a multicultural kitchen it is extremely important to have clear visual communication. Icons and images should be clear so that everyone understands the categorisation even though they might not have the same language skills.

The Challenge Of The Sprint

Bearing in mind it was a two weeks sprint, we reached a certain moment that we had to prioritise the areas to focus. Based on our research, we decided to focus on improving the level of engagement and network connectivity issues.

We compartmentalised the challenge into three categories:

To educate — Showing the benefits of using the app.

To simplify — Error handling and Customer Support process.

To engage users — Improving the willingness to use the app.

But How? 🤔

These three challenges above needed solutions. Here they are:

To streamline the categorisation process.

To highlight the app’s ease to use.

To provide a connection walkthrough to alert users to connection problems so they can solve them themselves.

Persona: Kitchen Porter, Carlos

We decided to create Carlos, the Kitchen Porter, whom best fitted our user frustrations. Carlos is the one that uses the Winnow app the most, is scared of making mistakes, his English is not fluent, and he is often under the strict eyes of the Head Chef.


  1. Carlos is making a banana bread.
  2. Walks towards the bin to throw the waste.
  3. Has problems to find where banana waste is.
  4. Thinks about all other activities in the kitchen he still has to do.
  5. The waste goes uncategorised.
  6. Walks away.

Design Studio

It was time to start sketching. We did a Design Studio session with our client to rapidly generate ideas. Our scenarios were in regards to streamlining the categorisation process and connection alerts.

Sketch ✍ ️+ Low Fidelity + Mid Fidelity + High fidelity Prototypes

Users had no idea on how long the categorisation process would take until the end.

We created a new breadcrumbs with progress bar that showed not only where the users were, but also how many steps left until the reaching the final step (reason).

We also followed the colour coordinated chopping boards to separate food into categories; through research we found this is a global practice used in food preparation across commercial kitchens.

Below we tested to encourage users to fix connection problems by themselves. Users didn’t want this appearing every time. They felt lost and didn’t understand what to do.

Upon iteration we added a “How do I fix?” to the walkthrough so users knew how to advance.

The Clickable Prototype

The app was turned into a clickable prototype that allows users to categorise and find his specific item with 4 simple steps and solve the connection problem without calling customer support. In the link below you will categorise a damaged banana and also be able to go through the connection alerts and solving issues.

Next Steps

Scale walkthrough: A step by step guide to scale calibration, mirroring the connection guide.

More categorisation: Adding menus & set dishes to the categorisation process.

Sim card and router: Include step by step guide identifying & fixing issues with sim card & router connections.