Helping households reduce food waste
I led the user research, ideation, low/high fidelity wireframes and prototyping.
According to City of Toronto, the amount of preventable food waste thrown out per year in Canada is over $31 billion in losses. A large portion of waste comes from households, with approximately 58% wasted annually. Users need something that will help them reduce the amount of food being thrown away.
Defining the problem
How might we manage fridge food more efficiently in order to reduce household food waste?
Fridgie is a household food manager that helps you reduce food waste by managing fridge food, tracking expiry dates with notifications and recommended recipes based on your leftovers. It will also track your progress and reveal how your participation in saving food has helped both the planet and your pocket.
We will partner with Walmart, who have recently opened a new grocery store which uses 'Just Walk Out' technology. It combines AI, computer vision and multiple sensors which charges customers based only on the items they pick up. All you have to do is scan yourself in, pick up the items you want and walk out when you're done. It provides you with an online receipt upon completion and you'll be able to sync your grocery items' data onto the food manager tool.
I surveyed 15 potential users to validate the concept and to understand more about their frustrations. We also conducted research to further explore the need for my product and areas for opportunity.
Some key findings from the surveys include:
• 73% believe it is a problem worth solving
• Respondents currently keep track of their groceries by pulling out all of the food in their fridge, or labelling the items with dates
• Having a progress tracker to help motivate them to reduce waste
• Frustration with certain foods spoiling quickly and having to either resort to frozen produce or using up the ingredient quickly
From the research and analysis, I then created user personas to better understand the user's needs, experiences and goals.
Customer Journey Map
After creating the personas, I was able to start journey mapping with one of my personas. This step helped to identify the key pain points and actions on the app and to ensure we are addressing the customers' needs.
I then created a site map in order to plan how information would be organised. It allowed us to see how the product would work and the easiest way to reach different screens.
The user research, personas and journey map helped me to identify the user's goals and ideate the right visual solution.
The brand guide was created to ensure a cohesive style across all screens. I chose vibrant colours to represent fresh produce and to keep it modern.
I began to create mid-fidelity wireframes to plan the general structure of the app. Annotated wireframes outlined the functions of each screen and the type of content you would see.
Once I had my mid-fidelity wireframes, I conducted usability testing and also had a heuristic evaluation done by another UX designer. During the usability testing, I would ask the participant to perform a task and evaluate how well they can navigate the product. With this goal mind, I tried to ask open-ended questions throughout the test to gain more insight into their behaviour. The usability testing and heuristic evaluation helped me identify if there were any uncertainties that could be improved.
Some of the feedback included:
• Not knowing what the "+" sign means
• Difficulty finding the button to apply a filter
• Possibly matching system to the real world when categorising items
• Great job of using back arrows for the user to go back a step or undo their current course of action.
• Great usage of pop up modals to inform the user of next steps, as well as food information that would help a user, such as the documentation that lets a user know that food can be easten past its expiry date
Once I completed the iterations to my design, I created the high fidelity wireframes and prototype.
One of my initial challenges was considering how users would add grocery items and require the least amount of input. I had to research what was technically feasible around the usage of pulling grocery data and expiry dates. This led me to create multiple input options that would cater to users adding an item with or without a barcode.
Development and iterations are a crucial part of the design process. For a personal project, you can't be too precious with your initial design because it will inevitably change. Testing allowed me to evaluate the product, understand the problem from the user's perspective and make the necessary changes to improve usability.
If I were to continue with the project, I would include ways to incentivise saving food such as receiving discounts and rewards. And based on the feedback from this project, I would also place more focus on how users can manage their shelves.