Vita: For a Healthier Human Bean

How might we help those seeking to be healthier form new habits in a successful and sustainable way?


Key User Insights:

  • Our interviewees wanted to be healthy so they could live long, happy lives free from medical conditions.
  • Flexibility and taking small steps were key to a diet succeeding, and an app that helped users do this was sorely lacking from the market.
  • Community and social networks are vital for acceptance and support throughout the diet, as well as helping our users stay accountable.


Using social psychology theories as well as our key user insights, we came up with 5 features to solve our user’s problems, and create accountability and engagement:

  • A detailed onboarding process
  • Food Diary
  • Community Garden
  • Reflection and goal setting
  • RSS Feed of curated articles and recipes

Next Steps:

  • Further hi-fidelity usability testing.
  • A/B testing and card sorting to determine the best naming conventions and versions of certain features.
  • Feeback and review with key stakeholders and subject matter experts at Vita.


Our relationship with food could be killing us. The top three killers in Australia are chronic diseases, diseases which 70–90% of the time are preventable through making better lifestyle choices. In fact nine out of ten Australians will die prematurely from a chronic disease.

Who are Vita?

Vita are on a mission to build better lives, one vegetable at a time by using behavioural science to help people change their habits, improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic disease. Their program specialises in sustainable lifestyle change and helping participants transition to a whole food, plant-based diet.

How can UX help?

Vita want to scale their solution digitally and bring positive health change to as many people as possible, by focusing on changing diets to make the biggest impact.

Getting to know our users

We scouted far and wide for our ideal users and found 23 people from our own networks, as well as various Facebook groups who were ready and willing to help.

matterAssumption Map (left) and Topic Map (right)
  • People often don’t think of the subject you’re discussing in the same way you do, especially when it’s linked to very specific experiences.
  • And if you ever find yourself stuck in an interview remember that you’re talking to another person who has a story. Too often we become focused on insights and become detached from those we speak to, especially when we only refer to them as ‘users’.

Our Research Synthesis

  • Our interviewees wanted to be healthy so they could live long, happy lives with their family and friends, with ease and without the impending ticking clock of a medical condition
  • Our users felt that health is about balance, flexibility and control over eating habits
  • Our users wanted to reduce the risk of medical conditions
  • And needed to have good support from community, friends and family
(WFPB stands for Whole Food, Plant-Based, the diet recommended by Vita to help combat preventative illnesses most effectively)

Enter the social sciences.

We looked at a variety of sources but I was so interested in the social psychology side of the coin that I took charge of the research, and delved straight into a promising book, Hooked by Nir Eyal.

The competitive analysis maps that my teammate Melvin created, and that I used to directly apply my knowledge of the Hooked Method, the Four Rubin Tendencies and the Jobs to be Done theory to our competitive landscape.

Julie, our primary persona

  • Julie wants to be healthy and needs ways to stay committed to and disciplined on her diet.
  • She has the support of her family even though they don’t really understand what she’d doing or why she’s doing it.
  • She doesn’t have the time or energy to fully commit to a big lifestyle change, especially if it’s overly restictive. She craves flexibility in her diet so she can keep herself motivated.

So how might we help Julie?

  • Feel supported?
  • Stay accountable?
  • Make her new lifestyle more convenient?
  • And stay motivated about her diet?

Crazy 8’s and Design Studio

  • Daily and weekly goal setting
  • Simple food journal
  • Daily tracking and reflection
  • Curated RSS feed
  • Support group system

Usability Testing our paper prototype

Our wireflow showing the onboarding process leading to each of our key features
Onboarding (left), Community Garden (centre) and Food Diary (right)


From our 5 tests we gained many insights and compiled a list of glows, grows and deltas to lead us into our solutions and the next round of iterations.

Meet Beanie! This time, in technicolour

Our app’s adorable mascot.

Small steps

A series of cascading goals (weekly and daily), always keeping her “big why” front and centre. The reflection tool also helps to see the progress made by these little steps and build motivation.

To know they are learning from trustworthy sources

Having access to a constant source of information through a curated RSS feed, empowers our users and supports them with the knowledge they need to progress, reducing the overwhelming feeling that comes with sudden change.

Didn’t want to feel alone. Wanted social support from a community

With the introduction of the community garden, users have the support they need from a wider community and friends and family if they so choose.

To learn how to manage stress or comfort eating, making the transition easier and not so punishing

With the implementation of rewards such as “beanie medicine” and a “guilty pleasure voucher”, users can have those guilty moments every now and then and not feel like they’ve fallen off the wagon.

Wanted to be healthier and be able to set their own pace and goals, not necessarily building towards a “fully” plant-based diet

Our diet sliders in the onboarding process allow for a gradual reduction to a healthier state, not necessarily a WFPB diet, but a healthier diet the user can get behind and feel less restricted by. All goals are also customisable.

What next?

Our app was already jam-packed with features and yet we still had so many ideas ready to go from our backlog, like:

  • Further development of the fun rewards system
  • Mentors and an ask the expert feature
  • Mood tracking reflected on Beanie, for empathy and connectedness
  • A feature to help educate friends and family of those on the diet, to better understand their needs and support them.

Key Takeaways from this project

  • Work to people’s strengths and learn from each other (there’s nothing more valuable than a well-balanced team)
  • Use the process to get through the confusion (when in doubt, affinity map!)
  • The power of summarising and prioritisation, especially when communicating complex ideas.



UX Designer, storyteller, dog lover and tea crane maker with a love for film and TV. View my work (and my dogs) at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alaine Thompson

UX Designer, storyteller, dog lover and tea crane maker with a love for film and TV. View my work (and my dogs) at