A comprehensive diet assistant for young adults
Young adults often get affected in health as they transition to independent living. For instance, adapting to university life is challenging. In the process, many people have improper food consumption affecting their health due to a lack of expertise and motivation, difficulty in keeping track, and time constraints. There are many well-designed applications to assist people in achieving their health goals. However, users often fail to continue using them.
My key contribution
8 weeks (Oct - Nov 2021)
UX Researcher and Leadership
Designed the user interview and user testing scripts.
Conducted 3 unstructured interviews, and 2 semi-structured interviews.
Provided design recommendations after every iterative evaluation round.
Lead the team through research and design.
Five researchers and designers
Kick start the day
Custom notifications on next steps, accountability with friends, food logging helps to guide and motivate and the user
Search Desired Recipes
Personalized recipe suggestions, recipe search based on goals and constraints allows user to make healthier food choices
Manage food better
keeping track of the pantry, and finding related recipes helps users to utilize groceries effectively.
Log food quicker
Image or barcode based food logging reduces the time and effort for the user to keep track of consumption
The existing diet-related applications are focused are lacking in assisting the users leading to failure in continuous usage and struggle with progress. We wanted to create a comprehensive assistant that can better guide people in maintaining a healthy diet. We used three methods to understand user needs and existing issues.
How might we create a comprehensive diet assistant that can guide people in maintaining a healthy diet as they transition into independent lifestyles?
To find patterns
To understand how users perceive nutrition tracking and understand their goals and approaches we conducted a survey to find patterns. We got 41 responses consisting of multiple choice and written answers.
To understand the reasons
We conducted 8 interviews to understand specific user challenges and reasons surrounding their food consumption.
Existing solutions and find scope for improvement
To compare and analyze effective solutions existing in the market, we looked into the primary features of 4 prevalent applications in the market from three major perspectives - motivation, support, and data input process. We then summarized the strengths and weaknesses of each product to get insights into what we can do.
After analyzing the information gathered, we have divided the pain points identified into 4 categories using affinity mapping
Time and Effort
Convenience over health - eat frozen food, order out, snack on junk
Skip meals or change meal plans due to busy schedule
Give up tracking diet as it is mundane and requires effort
Prefer Convenience in cooking
Looking for new and healthy recipes to achieve their goals. Hard to decide from so many choices
Repetitive dishes due to lack of awareness on alternatives
Difficulty estimating quantity
Prefer different instruction formats based on experience level
Difficulty in keeping track of groceries - results in food wastage
Hard to read and understand nutrition facts
Unaware of healthiness of food in restaurants
Unsure if maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is worth the effort
We conducted timer-induced brainstorming sessions to note down individual ideas on Figjam. We later went through each other ideas and discussed various solutions.
Custom recipe suggestions
Easily log my food consumption to track nutrition
Search recipes to cook based on my interests and requirements
Keep track of my groceries to avoid wastage
Get assistance in planning my diet
Find motivation and company to stick to my diet
Design & Evaluation
Site map, key pages
Design and Usability test for major user flows
Modifications, gamification and Usability test
User testing III
Based on the features finalized from ideation and following the major user flows we sketched low-fidelity designs.
Access all sections
Track food consumption
View nutrition information
Add and track groceries
User feedback - Iteration I
Feedback was gathered using 5 guided user tests and generative questions to evaluate the information architecture and overall understanding of the application by the users. Participants were provided with two simple tasks asked to perform as they think-aloud their understanding of each screen they visit. The test ended by asking opinions on four different gamification ideas and follow-up questions.
Expects to track through home page
"I'm confused between using track and quick track sections for logging food."
"Daily progress feels repetitive being in both home and track page."
Reduce steps for tracking. Merge home and track pages
Difficulty in locating information
"It's difficult to locate the pantry icon on the plan page"
"I'm not sure which page redirects me to searching recipes"
Re-organize information. Divide 'Plan' page into recipe and pantry
Focus of gamification to motivate
Visual representation to indicate the individual goals
Virtual or real-world reward system
The design should be simple
Having a community and keeping update
Using the sitemap and user feedback medium-fidelity wireframes were designed for all the user flows. The following screens show modifications in the primary sections of the application.
Combined home and track pages
Daily consumption information - swipe the section for the game.
Provide choice to view the gamification
Redirect to different meal sections for tracking.
Merge track and home pages
grocery tracking seperated as a new page
Check items available in your pantry. Add new purchases.
User testing - Iteration II
After designing medium-fidelity wireframes for all the user flows we conducted user test to evaluate the usability. The test consisted of four tasks focusing on the major user flows. Usertesting.com was used to conduct these un-moderated tests. We then studied the recordings along with verbal and written responses to identify critical incidents.
Logging a meal to track nutrition
Search for recipes with specific goals
Check pantry items for freshness
Add new purchases to the pantry
"Minimalist Layout - most nutrition apps are packed with information and functions which makes the app clunky to use but this app streamlines all that information so that it is more digestible"
"Pantry was a little confusing. Roundabout way to add things to the pantry - I should just be able to search that up within that section rather than having to click on the basket icon again"
Based on critical insights from user testing, design changes were made while designing the high-fidelity wireframes.
Issue: Content of notification overshadowed by explore recipes button
Solution: Change the layout to clickable notification to highlight its content
Issue: users expect to add a new purchase to pantry using search bar in main pantry page instead of clicking the add icon
Solution: Integrated add purchase options into main pantry page
Issue: quantity addition is small to access conviniently
Solution: Enlarge quantity changing and provide confirmation
Final high fidelity wireframes with explanation on how research informed the designs for some key features.
Customize your recommendations based on your goals and dietary specifications.
AI-based keyword detection to better understand goals and diet.
Being inclusive of various diet goals
User testing - Iteration III
Third iteration of user testing was conducted using the same tasks as previous one for standardizing analysis. Additional questions were added to receive feedback on onboarding and game screens. 6 user tests were conducted using usertesting.com .
"I like that it has the competitive element to check on friend's progress and you can gain achievements. I also liked the tool that lets you find recipes from items in your pantry as well as the ability to see how old items in your pantry are."
"The layouts were simple and easy to understand or figure out. I love the recipe function!! Being able to search recipes based on cooking duration, that align with your health goals, and what ingredients you'd use is amazing. It's unique to any nutritional trackers I have used as well."
"Not clear on the "Friends" feature. The map part kind of cluttered that screen for me."
Re-organize game visual
Further iterations are required to simplify the visualization of the game part and reduce cluttering of information
Many users found the pantry integration very useful. There is a lot of potential to add features around managing and tracking pantry items.
More research is required around specific dietary expectations of people to improve options provided for filters and goals.
Consuming food is a routine for any person. Behavioural understanding helps to better motivate and assist users to achieve their goals
Balancing functionalities and simplicity
Most design challenges faced during this project were about figuring out how to provide multiple functionality while avoiding cluttered UI. User testing sessions provided major insights on what parts were confusing and how they need to be changed. Hence we understood the need for multiple test iterations.
Moderated and un-moderated tests
Although un moderated tests are quick and provide access to diverse participants., since the prototype is not fully functional, users tend to go off track during the test without moderation
Interlinking through research, ideation and design phase
Since our application attempts to focus on diverse set of pain points, we loose track of the flow at times. Using UX methods such as journey mapping, would have allowed us to easily navigate through all the aspects of different screens.
Prioritize findings from user tests
People have diverse set of opinions. It is almost impossible to accommodate all of them in a design. Organizing all the data collected through research and testing phases with respect to their priority highly helps in making design decisions in such ambiguous cases.