Leslie Park
Apr 25, 2016 · 8 min read

Food Savior: Your food saver. Your life saver. Eat a little.

(Note for FacebookDesignCrit): I created a case study for an iOS application in order to explore UX/UI for Cornell University’s CUAppDev Intro to Digital Product Design Trainee Program. I am showing my early work to help people track food freshness and figure out whether their food is spoiled, because food waste/proper food storage/knowing how to tell if foods are spoiled are a prevalent issue for people (especially to people living on their own for the first time). And I am looking for feedback on how to improve this case study, the UX/UI high fidelities, and how to build upon and further explore UX/UI design (as this is my first case study and experience with UX/UI). Hope you enjoy!

___________ Design Idea: Food Savior___________

Problem: When I search through the pantry or fridge to cook, I want to know how old the food is and whether or not it is safe to eat, so that I can limit my food waste and avoid eating spoiled food.

Goal: Design a simple application that keeps track of when perishable foods were bought and estimates the shelf life and freshness of the perishable foods.

Target Audience: College Students, young adults, waste and budget conscious individuals — specifically those who are learning to food shop and cook for the first time

— —

User Interviews

1. Interview 1 — College Student (Undergraduate)

  • An optional alert or reminder may be useful
  • It might be useful to have different options to view the list: oldest to newest foods, categories, calendar
  • A recipe or food idea could be a cool feature
  • Tips on how to tell if a certain item is spoiled or okay to eat would be useful

2. Interview 2 — College Student (Undergraduate)

  • The app should indicate different shelf lives depending on the method of storage (i.e. No fridge, fridge, freezer)
  • Being able to track shelf life or freshness of leftovers would be useful

3. Interview 3 — College Student (Graduate)

  • Knowing what foods I’ve wasted would be helpful in future shopping purchases
  • Grocery list feature would be helpful and convenient

Key Insights:

1. Interviews 1 & 2 — College Students (Undergraduate)

  • Typically little to no experience food shopping and cooking
  • Often considers cooking and food shopping a tedious
  • May be forgetful as food shopping is not always a priority

2. Interview 3 — College Student (Graduate)

  • Usually more experienced with food shopping and cooking
  • Tech-savy and open to using new tools for every day convenience
  • Usually budget conscious

— —

Market Research

  • Fresh Pantry: Take a photo of your food then set expiration date; Records foods & expiration date that user sets; photo view
  • Fresh Box: Take photo of your foods; Record foods & expiration date that user sets; Expiration date reminder function; Provides recommended shelf-life; photo view
  • Best Before: Take picture of the food; Records location & expiration date of food; Expiration date reminder; Sharing items with others function; photo view
  • Prep & Pantry: Records food & expiration date; helps create grocery list; scan function; reporting options to help user with food shopping; List view arranged alphabetically
  • Expiry: Track foods & other items; Records item & expiration date; expiration date reminders; iCloud compatible; check off box like a to-do list

Key Insights: Although there are several expiration date tracking apps in existence, each of these apps target a variety of key features. However, each of the apps are missing key features or include unnecessary features, which clutters the user interface or increases the learning curve to use the app in its entirety. For instance taking photos of the food is unnecessary and may make searching through a list of food options more difficult.

— —

Structure — Top Features

  • Intuitive and simple list view option
  • Expiration date reminders
  • Provided information & content: Storage & preparation tips; Recommended shelf life (according to method of storage)
  • Waste Tracker
  • Grocery List

___________________________________________________________________

Idea Exploring — Low Fidelity Tools

Mindmapping

Mind Mapping Session: Started from problem/app ideas →Personal financing/budgeting idea → Realized that Mint addressed the problem better →Looked back at the first mind mapping session for inspiration →Found another problem to address.

Key Insights: Initially, I had several ideas that I wanted to pursue for this case study. After a general mind mapping session, I decided to pursue a simple personal financing app in order to target a prevalent issue that many people face: effective budgeting. Upon conducting additional market research and low fidelity idea explorations, I realized that Mint effectively solves the issue that I was trying to target. Thus, I reconsidered some ideas from the previous mind mapping session and brain stormed additional problems to target.

— —

Storyboarding

Storyboarding → Conceptualized how the app can provide Sam a solution to avoiding eating spoiled food while minimizing his food waste.

Key Insights: Hungry people prioritize satisfying their hunger over saving food or considering freshness of food. Regardless of how hungry an individual is, he or she does not want to eat spoiled food. Although expiration and best-by dates are clearly labeled on most food items, food may be safe to eat past these dates. Tips on how to tell a food’s freshness or whether the food is spoiled are essential — especially to first time food shoppers and cooks.

— —

Personas

  • Jason is excited to be living on his own for the first time, but this also means that he is not the most experienced with food storage. He is often concerned about determining whether a food is spoiled or not. Using Food Savior, Jason could be less concerned and develop some food storage knowledge.
  • Sam often brings home a lot of food and groceries, which he stores in the many different places (pantry/countertop, freezer, fridge). Since his food is stored all over the place, sometimes he forgets to eat foods while they are still fresh. Using Food Savior, Sam can use the reminders setting or check the simple list to make sure he limits his food waste.
  • Kelly like to make smoothies. She notices that her bananas are too ripe to eat. Using the tips from the Food Savior, she decides to put it in the freezer. She also knows how long the banana will be good for in the freezer.

Key Insights: Most of these situations deal with providing users relevant information about foods and what is in their fridges, freezers, or pantries. Although many existing apps document foods, they do not separate the foods by storage category or provide tips and additional information that may be useful to the user.

— —

Post-its: Brainstorming + Categorizing

Brainstorming: Functions (Part 1) → Thought out wide variety of ideas for functions/features and questions that a user might ask to address his or her problem.
Brainstorming: Functions (Part 2) → Sorted ideas from most useful (Best Ideas) to not as useful ideas (Probably not).

Key Insights: After brainstorming several solutions to address the problem, each idea was sorted into categories. Most of the “best ideas” were incorporated in Food Savior’s key features.

  • Tips: how to tell if an item is spoiled & how to determine freshness
  • Recommendations/Tips: storage methods
  • Database of information (for the app): should include food dishes (ex: left over pasta)
  • Shelf-life based on food storage method (fridge vs. freezer vs. pantry)
  • Expiration date reminder
  • Waste tracker
  • Grocery List

___________________________________________________________________

Further Exploration — Medium Fidelities

Blue dot or line indicates user action (e.g. click or swipe)
  1. Home Screen: Immediately shows list of food in fridge. Buttons on the top provide easy access to different lists by storage location. All general functions are accessible through the general list view.
  2. In order to delete an entry, the user may swipe right (similar to deleting a iMessage thread).
  3. Downward arrow expands a view containing specific information of each list item (best by date, shelf life, how to determine freshness, tips) as well as buttons to mark the list item off as eaten, wasted, or edit the entry. Note: all shelf lives are automatically adjusted to storage method (fridge, freezer, pantry).
  4. General screen for adding a list item. Simple dialogue box allows entry to be added. After inputting an item name (ex: bananas), information abut the item (shelf life, how to determine freshness, tips) are found in apps database.

___________________________________________________________________

Iterations — High Fidelities (Part 1)

Pink dot or line indicates user action (e.g. click or swipe)

Update

Adding colors that contributed to the intuitive user design of low fidelities.

Iteration Reflection

As I was adding colors to the wire-framed, black and white low fidelities, I noticed that the colors were not as purposeful as I had intended. I conducted further research on other popular applications, and I noticed that most applications included a monochromatic menu bar. I decided to scrap this iteration, and reconsider a simpler color scheme while focusing on the application’s key features.

— —

Iterations — High Fidelity (Part 2)

Pink dot or line indicates user action (e.g. click or swipe)
  1. Home Screen: Immediately shows list of food in fridge. Buttons on the top provide easy access to different lists by storage location. All general functions are accessible through the bottom menu bar.
  2. Delete List Input: In order to delete an entry, the user may swipe right (similar to deleting a iMessage thread).
  3. Expand Input Information: Downward arrow expands a view containing specific information of each list item (best by date, shelf life, how to determine freshness, tips) as well as buttons to mark the list item off as eaten, wasted, or edit the entry. Note: all shelf lives are automatically adjusted to storage method (fridge, freezer, pantry).
  4. Add List Input: Simple dialogue box allows entry to be added. After inputting an item name (ex: bananas), information abut the item (shelf life, how to determine freshness, tips) are found in apps database.
  5. Tips Feature: Tips (for storage, preparation, how to determine the freshness of a food, and how to tell if a food is spoiled) can be searched directly or by category. Extensive information is available in the application’s database.
  6. Waste Tracker Feature: Simple list view of which items were wasted. The list can be filtered by time period (month, week, year, etc.) or by category (produce, meals, etc.).

Updates

  • Sort button on the bottom menu bar was replaced with a reminders button. Reminder button prompts a list of expiration date reminders presented by expiration date (earliest to latest).
  • Colors were changed to a simple color scheme that matches Food Savior’s icon and is easy on the eyes. Colors for eaten, wasted, and edit were kept, as they are intuitive (Reference Figure 3). For instance, red is associated with “bad,” as wasting food is negative.
  • Created direct option to search tips directly.
  • Created a simple waste tracker list, which shows which items were wasted by time period and category.

Considerations for Future Iterations

  • Possibly add a sort view option
  • How to incorporate a reminder setting option within the expanded list view (Figure 3).
  • Improve waste tracker feature by including simple visuals or graphics.
  • Consider adding a voice command option to increase convenience when adding a list items(Figure 4).
  • Consider adding custom tips (user personally inputs information about food storage, shelf-life, etc.) for items that are not in the app’s database.
  • Add coupons feature: Provide from local super markets as a reward for saving foods

Leslie Park

Written by

HCI Researcher. UX Strategist. Digital well-being advocate. Amateur writer. & tbd. Reach out or find out more about me: https://lesliepark.github.io/

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