I started this project when I was a UX design student at General Assembly in London. The purpose was to create an app to solve a problem that a classmate was facing, using a variety of UX tools and techniques including:
- concept mapping
- user interviews
- user flows
- user testing
- rapid paper prototyping
- user interface iterations
- pen and paper
The app is designed to help people solve the problem of eating unhealthy foods that they're craving, when they're possibly lacking in nutrients instead. The features include:
- suggestions of healthy foods to eat that address nutritional definiencies, with a brief explanation of the benefits of that food;
- a description of the nutrients that a person may be missing out on if they're craving unhealthy 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 those nutrients;
- select a number of foods and search for recipes;
- save recipes to a favourite list for easy recollection;
- NO photographs of unhealthy foods that might lead to temptation; and
- an in-app rewards programme that encourages people to stick to their food goals.
Many people are adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, as well as dealing with allergies, intolerances and ethical or religious concerns. Some of those people experience energy fluctuations and dietary deficiencies, partially as a result of such changes. Dietary deficiencies often manifest themselves as cravings for foods that are not actually what a person needs, such as chocolate or 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 persuaded by advertising to eat something they don't really need. There are similar apps out there but a lot of them have photographs of such foods, which can easily sway a person from their goals.
Key research findings
From my user interviews and research into the competitor landscape, my key findings were:
- frustration with maintaining energy levels after a change in diet;
- cravings for sugary treats, fatty foods and low-fibre carbs;
- people are conscious that eating foods high in sugar or fat was not healthy but it was convenient;
- cravings were generally on-going;
- a reluctance to use food-based apps or websites that tempt them;
- a dislike of food wastage;
- difficulties sticking to long-term healthy and sustainable eating goals;
- a desire to receive encouraging feedback when sticking to their preferred diet; and
- a desire for more go-to recipes in their repertoire.
I tested the low-fidelity screens using the Marvel app and made changes from the results:
- amended the 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 question that asks 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;
- refined the preferences page to account for dietary restrictions other than vegetarian 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 in using the app.
Branding and visual design
Image choice was incredibly important when designing the product, as they'd be some of the only colours used in the screens. The opening screen is a simple text box so a person can type in what they're craving.
The tone of voice had to be encouraging and firm, so an individual could stick to their goals.
- Determine 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 to a 'waste not, want not' functionality.