Skip to content

Food sustainability mobile app

Case Study

As a student of the Part-Time Remote IronHack Bootcamp of October 2021, I participated in a team project focused on Wicked Problems. A problem was assigned to each team and we had to work together to understand the problem and suggest a solution.

Photo of sydney Rae in Unsplash

The Project

Team: 4 UX Designers/UX Researchers (Vanda Aragão, Victor Pasche Gutiérrez, Luz Adriana Bustamante and me)
Duration: 2 weeks
The problem: Food Sustainability- How Might we help communities access the seasonal produce of their region, fuelling fair and honest relationships between producers and customers while ensuring food safety for all?
Goal: Design a low-fidelity prototype of a mobile app
Challenges: Time Management, Finding Users available for Interview
Tools: Figma, Miro, Invison


The Process

Initially, we had to do research and learn what were the problems that people face when purchasing food. The research tool we would use was a survey so we needed to start planning its structure.

User Research

Before composing the Lean Survey Canvas, we needed to identify the problem, which we did by using the WHW protocol:

  1. Why do users have no access to organic food?
  2. How do they purchase food?
  3. What kind of food do they prefer?

Keeping these questions as guides, we started composing the canvas together. After collecting the most important ideas we composed the basic sections of the survey: The intro, the questions, and the closure. Our Canvas was ready!

Lean Survey Canvas

The content of the canvas helped us to build the survey as we adjusted its questions and shared them with the users.

In the meantime we had proceeded to the User Interviews using the following Interview Guide which was aimed in four basic areas:

Demographics

  1. How often are you in charge of purchasing food for your household?
  2. For how many people inside your household are you providing food for?
  3. From where do you purchase your food? Do you follow any diets?
  4. When choosing your food, what’s important for you?
  5. Do you know what organic food is?

Motivation

When buying food, what would make you choose to buy non-organic foods over organic foods?

Behavior

  1. Do you cook or prefer pre-cooked meals?
  2. How often do you include organic products in your weekly groceries?
  3. Which type of organic products do you buy? (Why?)

Pain points

  1. What prevents you from buying organic food?
  2. If organic food was more accessible, how likely are you to prefer buying it over non-organic foods?
  3. Why do you think organic food is not as accessible?

Divided into two groups, with an interviewer and a note-taker in each we managed to interview 5 users in two days.

Quotes like “If it was cheaper and trustworthy I would buy it” or “I don’t know if I believe the food certification” gave us the impression that the users not only avoid organic food because of its price but also because they don’t trust the products themselves.

Interview challenges: A significant challenge during the interviews was distance. As we were working remotely we had connection and audio problems but we managed to not let them distract us. Having also a short time to compose the survey and find interviewees was something frustrating too.

Synthesis- Analysing Data

Quantitative data: The Survey insights that the 42 participants revealed to us were very interesting:

  • 50% are in charge of the household’s weekly groceries
  • What is the priority when shopping: 85.7% is health and 78.6% is the cost of the products
  • How many do they include organic food in their weekly groceries:
    46.3% regularly — 12.2 % always
  • Willingness to buy more organic food: 71.4% is willing to buy if more affordable
Survey Question

Qualitative data: On an affinity diagram, we created notes from the interview’s transcript and then we grouped them into categories. The most dominant categories were:

  • Willingness to buy organic food
  • Budget
  • Certification trust
  • Food Preferences
  • Favorite Organic Products
Affinity Diagram

By doing dot voting we selected the categories we would focus on and which we would use for the Empathy Map and the Personas.

Defining the Problem

We were ready to dig deeper into the users’ feelings, thoughts, goals, and pain points. By using the interview feedback that we had already categorized, we composed the Empathy Map, and it was obvious that the users had two main pain points:
1. they are skeptical about what labels can provide
2. they feel like that organic food is out of their budget

Also, the users want to gain:

  • cheaper organic food
  • healthier food
  • support for local farmers
  • trustworthy and clear food info
Empathy Map

Having the data of the Empathy Map and the Survey we proceeded to the Personas:

  • Primary, Dorian -The health-conscious Foodie, that wants to buy more organic food but is hesitant and sometimes not able to
  • Secondary, Elsa -The digital skeptic, that is not sure what “organic food” means and how beneficial it can be
Primary Persona
Secondary Persona

Using the Primary persona of Dorian, we worked on the User Journey Map and detected Dorian’s feelings and challenges.

User Journey Map

The scenario that we used was Dorian’s visit to the supermarket to do his weekly groceries:

  • Dorian once a week after work goes to the supermarket.
  • He prepares a list with the groceries of the week and then he is walking to the supermarket.
User Journey Map detail
  • He enters the supermarket and is looking at the corridor signs to find the products.
User Journey Map detail
  • He finds the product, checks the label and ingredients on it but gets confused as he can’t understand what kind of nutritional benefits this product gives.
  • Dorian then puts in the basket the ones he thinks are healthier and cheaper.
  • He goes to the cashier, pays with his mobile phone, and goes home.
  • He cooks for himself and his friends

This journey revealed the challenges while shopping for organic food but also the opportunities we had to help Dorian while shopping for healthy food.

User Journey Map detail

Ideation

We had to think about how to improve his experience so started brainstorming on finding the most appropriate solution.
It was clear that our mobile app should be designed to make the process of selecting and buying organic food easier for the buyers. We had observed that the current packaging and labeling is not meeting the buyers’ need to understand the origin, nutritional value, and certification of the product which is causing buyers to give up on buying certain organic products.

Using the tool of Crazy 8, each of us sketched in 8 minutes, 8 different screens that our mobile would have. We were happy to see that our ideas were aligned and we decided the screens that we would design by doing once more dot voting for the features that would motivate Dorian to buy more organic food.

Crazy 8 sketches

Our Hypothesis was that:

  • The app would tickle Dorian’s curiosity about a product but also awaken his interest in the product by providing an indication of the health benefits it may have.
  • It should ease the user’s concern about the product’s origin, by providing a visual indication that it is indeed a certified organic product.
  • It should motivate and encourage the user to buy more organic products, so we decided to include a gamification feature: every time the user purchases an organic item, they would be rewarded with discount points for future purchasing.
Hypothesis

The Prototype

After sketching together a couple of the screen versions we finally had a flow of 7 screens showing how Dorian would do his shopping on the supermarket using the app:

The flow screens

Dorian goes to the supermarket and finds the product he is interested in.
Scans the product with the mobile app (screen1–2) and learns the product nutritional info (screen 3)

Adds the product to the shopping list (screen 4).

Pays for the groceries by scanning his identification code on his mobile device/app and gets discount points (screen 5).

His new points unblock a new level in the app (screen 6–7).

Dorian’s Journey while using the flow

The low-fidelity prototype of the mobile app was ready!

Feel free to test the prototype here.

Conclusions


Due to the lack of time, we didn’t manage to test the prototype but what we understood was that the users need to have access to more accurate food information and to more affordable organic food. We believe that providing the product’s information through a mobile app, and rewarding the user for their healthy choices will achieve an increase in organic food consumption.

It was a project during which we learned a lot. As a new team at the beginning, we needed some time to learn from each other and to be able to align, but by giving space and listening more to each other, eventually, we managed to improve our communication and we were able to understand the user and deliver together a solution to their problem.

Next Steps

In the future, we plan to test our prototype, collect feedback from the users, and based on that, design a mid-fidelity prototype that would include a broader range of features.