Living Full- Emerging Media MA

Project Summary: Living Full is a mobile application which serves as a resource for those who choose to live plant-based lifestyles by eliminating animal products from their diets. This resource provides users the tools necessary to make life meat free a little easier, a little healthier, and a lot more full. Through a combination of features such as the restaurant locator, recipe finder, nutrition tracker, and label scanner, Living Full offers its users a seamless user experience centered on connectivity and personalization. The application is offered free to download for those who are simply looking to make life as a vegetarian or vegan run a little more smoothly, but also comes in a premium version with extended access to content and specialty deals for a more well rounded experience.

Problem Statement/Solution: With a shift in focus towards lifestyles that are more sustainable and health centered, vegetarian and vegan diets have increased in popularity exponentially within the past 10 years. However, today’s society is still not quite where it needs to be in order to make these diets feasible for a wide variety of individuals. In fact, it is reported that a staggering 84% of individuals who attempt to lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle will at some point return to eating meat products. The largest contributing factor to this high return rate? Inconvenience. Unfortunately, despite the substantive growth observed in the plant-based lifestyle market, which saw an increase in sales of 8.1 % this past year alone, there are still currently no resources on the market which fully equip people with the tools necessary to live a full and healthy plant-based life. Yes there are applications which provide users with one or two specific services, but none which do so holistically. Living full seeks to resolve this issue by offering a completely unique experience to the plant-based market, one centered on a seamlessly connected user experience.

Outline of Features: In the free version of Living Full, users are provided a combination of five main features in order to achieve the highest quality user experience possible. Through a premium service, which costs a small fee of $5 a month, users are able to not only take advantage of these five main features but also added perks. Each of these features are detailed below:

  1. The Nutrition Tracker

The nutrition tracker is the largest point of connectivity within the Living Full application. This feature links easily to the recipes featured in the app, but also affords the opportunity to manually input nutritional information of dishes created outside of the application. This allows the user to easily track nutrition and protein intake throughout the day, something that is extremely important in sustaining a non-animal product lifestyle. The user has the opportunity to create personal goals based on his or her own nutritional needs as well as create reminders which can be set to go off at certain times of the day if a particular goal has not been met. To make this feature even more unique from anything on the market, it includes the ability for users to create an “everyday eats” list. These items can be saved to the list and then easily recalled or set to automatically be input into the nutritional tracker each day. Lastly, for restaurants which provide nutritional information to their consumers, users will be able to simply search for a restaurant and menu item to add to their personal tracker rather than having to enter manually.

Premium: As a premium user, Living Fuller customers have the opportunity to link their nutrition tracker feature to the Health application which comes automatically downloaded on all iOs devices. This creates yet another way for Living Full users to live with all of their health and wellness tools connected seamlessly.

2. The Restaurant Locator

The restaurant locator in Living Full allows for users to enjoy the basic tools of a restaurant finder through the ability to search based on location or restaurant name. This feature also provides users with important restaurant information such as contact information, daily hours, and by listing current menus. However, Living Full not only encompasses the traditional features of a restaurant locator, but it also takes a step further to create a more valuable experience for the user through the unique ability of highlighting specifically vegetarian and vegan options on a menu. This ability creates an easier and more efficient menu scanning experience for all Living Full users.

Premium: Premium users of the application have access to restaurant deals and coupons exclusive to Living Fuller users. These savings are unique to the Living Full experience and assist in making the plant-based lifestyle a little more sustainable.

3. The Recipe Finder

The recipe finder provides access to vegetarian and vegan recipes for the three main meals of the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. All recipes included in the application are hand selected by the Living Full team in order to ensure high quality customer experiences. The user is able to both search and filter recipes by time preparation, food genre, meal times, average cost of the meal based on mean ingredient prices, and whether the meal is vegetarian or vegan. This feature includes vivid imagery of the final dish alongside a specific, step-by-step instruction guide, a list of ingredients used and information on the nutritional value of one serving. The recipe feature also allows for users to set cooking timers within the application, save favorite recipes to a “cookbook”, and add needed ingredients to the “food basket” for easier recall while grocery shopping. Lastly users have the ability to input up to 5 free personal recipes into the application for not only an easier recall later but also for the seamless connectivity to the nutrition tracker.

Premium: Premium users of the application have the ability to input unlimited personal recipes into the application. These users also have the opportunity to submit recipes to the “Living Full” team for revision and possible inclusion in the application. Lastly, Living Fuller users have the opportunity to rank their favorite and least favorite recipes for a more customized and personal experience when using the recipe finder.

4. The Label Scanner

The label scanner creates an opportunity for users to experience a simpler grocery shopping experience and is one of the most unique features of Living Full. Though it might seem to be common knowledge which food products on the market are vegetarian and vegan, this is unfortunately not the case. With a plethora of opportunities for food companies to label their products as vaguely as possible, knowing which ingredients are safe to eat on a plant-based diet can prove to be quite the challenge. The Living Full label scanner aims to assist in alleviating this issue by allowing for users to scan barcodes of specific products and search specific ingredient names. After scanning or searching the product or ingredient, the user is shown a screen which provides information such as: whether or not the product is vegetarian or vegan, what ingredient in the product is not vegetarian or vegan, and any alternative products or brands on the market that currently offer similar plant-based products.

Premium: Living Fuller users have access to exclusive brand savings and deals to help make the plant-based lifestyle a little more affordable. These users also have the ability to save permanent items to “to eat or not to eat” lists for future reference .

5. The Food Basket

The food basket allows for users to easily save ingredients from the recipe finder and to manually input any other grocery items needs. Unique to Living Full, users are able to input ingredients by “whole item” or by “needs”. This is meant to prevent over purchasing or confusion in the grocery store isle. For example, when a user finds a recipe within the Living Full application, he or she can then add the specific amount of the ingredient needed to the food basket. From there users are able to shop more easily by simply removing items from the basket and or highlighting them as out of stock.

Premium: Users with premium subscriptions to the application have the ability to create an unlimited number of food baskets. This way users have the chance to create and organize baskets. For example, users can create a weekly basket for items that he or she always needs along with a basket for a quick mid-week run or a basket specific to creating one recipe in particular. This takes the food basket experience one step further and creates an opportunity for an even more efficient grocery shopping experience.

Technologies Used: Living Full is a prototype created with the Marvel design platform. This tool allows for users to easily create realistic user experience flows for mobile applications. The company offers both a free version, the version used to create Living Full, and a premium version. This platform was used to create Living Full because of its relatively small learning curve and because it allows for users to create a user flow of screens based on images uploaded to the system. That said, the branding material and screens of the application were created with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Both of these design tools allow for users to create original pieces that can be easily exported as images for web and mobile.

Potential Impact: Living Full has the potential to create a wave of change within the plant-based lifestyle market. It has the ability to foster a more feasible and sustainable lifestyle through its connectivity, simplicity and personalization features. This application will allow for individuals who are looking to make a change in their lives or who are working to sustain life meat free to hold every tool necessary linked seamlessly in one place.

This application also has the opportunity to be a brand leader in the current plant-based market as there are no current applications which aim to provide these services. Living Full has the chance to become something much larger than a mobile application, it has the ability to encompass a lifestyle which is centered on simplicity and real elements of the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

Lessons Learned:

Research: Through initial research into the lifestyles of those who choose to live by vegetarian and vegan diets, it became increasingly clear that there is a large gap currently existing within the market. There are a handful of applications currently available, but each of these applications focus on providing one specific task or service to customers. This lack of a connected experience leaves the user with a lack of support from a fully encompassing product. This issue became alarming because of the large spikes in growth the plant-based market is facing on all fronts. It quickly became clear that there is an opportunity to fill a gap in a quickly expanding market.

Design: The largest contributing factors to the design of the Living Full product were the users. From the initial survey conducted in fall of 2017, users were consulted and tested so that the application would not only be aesthetically on brand with plant-based lifestyles but also provide the most efficient user experience possible. Rather quickly it became clear that the target users of Living Full are most drawn to design which is focused on seamless flow, clean white spaces, and simple actions. Furthermore, users that were involved with each stage of our design process unanimously agreed that it is important for applications such as Living Full to fit easily into daily life schedules without adding extra “junk” or stealing time unnecessarily.

Development: The development of Living Full was largely based on research and two usability tests conducted in the summer of 2018. These tests were used to move the product through the wireframe and prototype stages into the most viable product phase. There were many suggestions for improvement that were put forth by participants in each test and for the most part they all fell under these five theme umbrellas:

  1. Always consider thumb size when designing for mobile

Sometimes its easy to get caught up in what is “thought” to be the right size or flow for a user experience, but actually getting the product into the hands of the user allows for those assumptions to either be supported or countered. Based on the feedback from users during each phase of usability testing, it became increasingly clear that sizing on mobile is a make or break element of design.

2. Rough edges are aesthetic but not always functional

Sometimes pretty does not always mean functional. Throughout the developement of Living Full, users were pleased with the brand and aesthetic appeal of the application;however, in the beginning designing stages it was made clear that users are not always drawn to something that looks completely “raw”. To strike a balance between real and trustworthy was one of the largest themes of the Living Full development process.

3. Text readability influences everything

To put it simply: the users ability to read and comprehend what information the product is trying to display is vital to keeping and retaining attention.

4. Personalization creates value

In today’s world users are consistently inundated with applications and media that are seemingly personalized. It was made clear through research and usability testing that taking the personalization features one step beyond the basic mark would be something that would be necessary in making Living Full stand out.

5. Simplicity is key

Simple and clean design, especially within an application which hosts a plethora of interconnected features, is what gives the experience a feeling of smooth flow. Focusing on white space and simple colors aided the Living Full design process so that the application would not feel too clunky or cluttered to the user taking advantage of its offerings.

Conclusion: Overall, through the research and constant user feedback, it became clear that users are looking for an application which is not difficult to maneuver but which also houses a full toolkit of features. It was reiterated time and time again that there are too many different applications on the market which focus on one small part of solving a problem, users are in search of something that can solve problems holistically. Another lesson learned from the creation of Living Full was just how valuable user testing is to creating not only a “pretty” application, but also one that would actually be of service to the target market. It is vital for product developers to hear the voice of their market throughout the entire development process so that the product goal can be achieved in the most efficient and timely manner possible.

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