PROBLEM: Local Food Matters
Locavores is a project that addresses the growing trend of local food movement. It started out by asking simple questions:
“How can we as a community start thinking differently about our food system?”
“Can we change people’s perception of what they desire and expect on their plate?”
By having an open discussion within my local community about food, food systems, what’s seasonal and local, I arrived at a premise that:
Our society, culture and thoughts about local food is ahead of what our current existing system provides.
To simply put, we as a community thought that there is an opportunity for better way of sharing and tracking of what’s local.
To gather data of user needs and who they are, it was important to target the research to the right group of people. In addition to my local foodie community mentioned above, I have approached cooking and foodie groups, as well as online forums. Approximately 50 survey responses were collected and analyzed.
To gather insights from the interviews, I focused on the interviewee’s journey from how they start searching and sharing of what is local. Then I asked what their favourite and worst part of their processes were. A list of questions may diverge from there but overall, the interviews were kept at a casual conversational level to allow interviewees to be comfortable and to share. A total of 10 foodies were interviewed in this project.
User Research Insights
In summary, the key research findings show that:
- Support for Local is increasing.
- Information about what’s local is sporadic and hard to find.
- It is difficult to share and track information about local & seasonal food.
- People are valuing quality and taste over longer shelf life.
- Individuals are interested to hear about the unique stories of local producers.
Lastly, Based on surveys, interviews and user research, a target persona has been created based on insights:
Based on the research analysis, the features list has been created to categorize what must have, nice to have and not needed features:
- Front page with latest & trending local stories
- Scan and Track feature
- Explore feature
- Photos (can be external)
Nice to have:
- Notification of what’s around you
- Categories list of different community groups
- Detailed information about goods & services
- Information about producers
- Trends and brief analysis
- Articles — monthly, seasonal and annual feature
- VR experience — external
At this point, it was clear what the project’s MVP were going to be for Locavores:
1. To promote sharing unique stories of local producers and restaurants.
2. Encourage exploration of local neighbourhood
3. Provide authentic, transparent & traceable information for goods.
The following simplified flow shows how users may land different pages based on what their desired action was going to be. From the home page, user may go through featured stories in order to learn more about what’s local around them. From Scan page, they may scan items then track to learn more about food systems. They may also explore from explore page by navigating the map of their surroundings. Finally, My Local page keeps track of user’s liked, history and community page to learn more about detail stories, to review and to join discussions.
Blockchain powering Scan & Track
In order to simulate the scanning and tracking feature effectively, it is crucial to understand how Blockchain technology works. In essence:
The Blockchain enables transaction between two parties without the need of a third party but can be trusted at all times and the exchange is verified and saved. The record of transactions in a functioning Blockchain is growing each day and is shared in real time among all users in the network, hence the name distributed ledger.
Each established block of transactions is linked to the block that came before it and therefore the process ensures validity. It is the combination of the ledger and the Blockchain technology in any transaction system that makes the system a virtual, distributed and decentralized entity.”
“Blockchain has the potential to create a competitive marketplace for trusted transaction bookkeeping.”
Blockchain Precedent: Walmart
Blockchain technology is already in use by companies like Walmart in China to address food safety, allowing the company to find the source of unsafe, contaminated or poisoned food and remove them off the shelf.
With feature lists, MVP, Flow and better understanding of Blockchain technology complete, I transitioned towards Design and Testing.
With the first paper prototype, I started to visualize how the app interface may look like. By testing with cut out paper, I was able to get first series of feedback from my users.
I took the feedback from my first paper prototype and worked on my second version of paper prototype. This time, POP App was used to quickly simulate the actions and transitions on a smart phone to get a simulated experience of using an app. — POP LINK
With the second paper prototype, the key feedbacks were:
- There seems to be too many or unnecessary amount of menu.
- Categories screen may not be needed and the icon isn’t recognizable.
- Positive feedback on home page that lists featured stories.
- Try moving the menu to the bottom of the screen for easier thumb navigation.
- Simplify overall.
After analyzing feedbacks from second paper prototype, I attempted to digitize the first mid-fidelity screens. Sketch and InVision Apps were used from this point onwards to simulate user interface.
Further feedbacks were received fromMid-fidelity prototypes:
- Community icon was not recognizable for most users.
- Screen identification bar from Mid-fidelity 1.0 is too faint to see. Need a better identification.(Updated in Mid-fidelity 2.0)
- Search & Scan is not very prominent and seems hidden.
- Community may be given too much of a priority after Home screen. Try moving it to other location.
After much iterations from Mid-fidelity prototypes, Locavores High-Fidelity Prototype 7.0 underwent several changes according to user feedback:
- Removed green colour theme to let the story and feature cards shine.
- Scan feature screen now sits on the second menu after Home screen.
- Community feature screen moved to under My Local screen sub menu.
- Additional Screens added: Track, Comment and Review to better simulate the app.
- Added branding & Logo for Locavores.
Locavores app, currently designed for Android with consideration of Material Design, has been well received by its potential users. User feedback was definitely crucial for iterating the app to the current state. It was the all thanks to the series of user testing that Locavores was able to focus on improving what’s important.
As Locavores app focuses on consumer as the primary end user, it would be interesting to start looking into how it may integrate Farmers and Chefs to serve their needs for next phase of development. Also, I would consider looking into adding further depth into tracking and exploring features.