I started this project when I was a student on General Assembly's UX Design Immersive course and have continued to work on and test the usability of the app. I've been using the following tools and techniques:
- concept mapping
- user interviews
- user flows
- user testing
- rapid paper prototyping
- user interface iterations
- pen & paper
Summary of Features
An app I've designed to help people deal with their cravings for unhealthy food. Features include:
- suggestions of healthy foods to eat that address nutritional deficincies, with a brief explanation of the benefits of that food;
- description of the nutrients a person may be missing out on if they are craving unealthy foods (such as a lack of magnesium manifesting itself as a craving for chocolate!);
- find a recipe that includes the foods a person needs to get their nutrients;
- select a number of foods and search for recipes;
- save recipes to a favourite list for easy recollection;
- NO photographs of unhealthy foods! and
- an in-app rewards programme that encourages people to stick to their food goals.
There is a growing trend for people to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, as well as having to deal with allergies and intolerances or ethical and religious choices. Many people experience energy fluctuations and dietary deficiencies, partially as a result of such changes or lack of nutrients. Dietary deficiencies often manifest themselves as cravings for foods that are not actually what a person needs, such as chocolate or potato crisps.
It’s often easier to eat unhealthy food on the run and there are huge temptations to eat sugary and fatty foods. People are inundated with advertising and images of unhealthy foods which tempt them to eat something they don’t really need. There are similar apps out there but a lot of them have photographs of unhealthy foods, which can easily sway a person from their goals.
Key Research Findings
The key findings from interviews and research were:
- frustration with maintaining energy levels after a change in diet;
- cravings for sugary treats, fatty foods and low-fibre carbohydrates;
- people are conscious that eating foods high in sugar or fat was not healthy;
- cravings were generally on-going;
- a reluctance to use food-based apps or websites that tempt them with unhealthy or unwanted foods;
- a dislike of food wastage;
- difficulties sticking to long-term healthy and sustainable eating goals;
- a desire for encouraging feedback when sticking to their preferred diet; and
- a desire for more go-to recipes in their repertoire that are easily accessible.
"I don't use food apps because I don't want to be tempted by photographs of food," - Katerina
I tested the low-fidelity screens using the Marvel app and made the following changes from the results:
- included a sign-up screen;
- allowed the user to access saved recipes to favourites from the home screen;
- removed photographs of unhealthy foods at the home screen query to what people are craving;
- created a screen specifically for the user to see their past rewards, accessible from every screen by the rewards icon in the footer, to be reminded that they’re doing well whenever they want;
- refined the preferences page to account for dietary restrictions other than vegetarian choices e.g. gluten free or intolerant, vegan, meat-free Mondays, religious or cultural choices; and
- included functionality to search for recipes including specific foods, as the user becomes more fluent using the app.
Image choice was incredibly important when designing the high fidelity screens, as they are some of the only colours used in the screens. I removed any mention of sugary or fatty treats, to help people avoid them. The opening screen is a simple text box so a person can type in what they're craving, rather than looking at images of doughnuts, for instance.
The language used in the app had to be about encouraging an individual to follow their goals.
I've explained the way the app works as if our primary user, Katerina, finds herself craving chocolate on the Tube on the way home from work.
- determining whether the app would be a search function for recipes on the internet or have the recipes written and included specifically for Cravings;
- include more detailed nutritional information and advice for people changing diets;
- include information on the benefits of eating ethically and sustainably, then design that into an encouraging rewards programme; and
- investigate the potential to incorporate a non-wastage of food aspect into the app, potentially re-designing it for a ‘waste not, want not’ functionality.