Project Summary -
More than one-third of all food produced worldwide is either lost or wasted. And each day more than 800 million people go hungry. This is the problem we would try to solve through UX Design. During our first phase of development, we brainstormed different solutions. We found that we may be able to raise awareness about hunger by teaching people to waste less food. We would do this by creating a system to track food inventory. The system would also provide tips to help with inventory management.
Through research, we discovered the want for a better food inventory tracking system. People also asked for clearer and more visible information on food banks and drives. Combining these two desires led to the formation of PantryPartner. This mobile app facilitates inventory tracking and sharing of knowledge. We would include best practices and methods for managing inventory and donating food.
By helping users track food inventory and waste, and by making food banks and drives more visible, we hope to stifle food waste and raise awareness of hunger issues.
Team & Roles -
The team was two UX designers, me and my partner Amanda Gerrard. I shared all responsibilities with my partner until the high fidelity process. We each performed the tasks of the recruiter, scheduler, interviewer. Amanda and I wrote our research questions together. Using social media, we both contacted family, friends, and associates to participate in the surveys and interviews. We then analyzed the data together to inform our next steps. The two of us spent the next few weeks wireframing, prototyping, and testing. Finally, we separated to develop individual high fidelity prototypes.
The Challenges -
This case study is part of a UX Design course. We were given four weeks and limited resources to design a solution to our problem. Amanda and I both have our own computers, and the class provided several resources such as Miro and Sketch. We learned how to use each system as we learned about each step in the UX design process. With the time constraints, as learning as we went, our effort saw us through to the end.
Having to work in a remote environment seemed to be a hefty challenge at first. Early on, Amanda and I developed a system to share files. We also used video chats for all our brainstorming and development sessions. With adequate technology, focus, and great teamwork, we made it work.
The biggest challenge was finding new ways to conduct interviews in a pandemic environment. Finding web tools like Google forms to do surveys, and using Zoom to conduct interviews was a great help.
The Solution -
The first step was to draw the problem statement: we will try to raise awareness about and combat hunger by providing better methods and practices to reduce food waste. This helped give a clearer understanding of what type of data we would need to gather. We then formed assumptions and anti-assumptions. This further focused our ideations towards a solution. These ideas directed us to what data we would need to collect next. With a definite concept for a solution, it was time to move into developing the concept. We decided that we would use a mobile app to address the problem.
Amanda and I sketched a few wireframes to find what we should or should not include in the product. After many iterations, we agreed on what the product should be and how we would present it. We also discussed which functions might be unnecessary. While meal planning helps reduce food waste, we felt that it did not warrant its own page. Things like this could be included in the tips section. The goal was to keep the user informed and capable. From here we moved into data gathering.
With a clear idea for a solution and the mobile app, our team wrote a short survey. We asked questions about what types of food people normally buy, how often they cook at home, and how often they throw out food. There were also some questions about people’s donation habits. The survey would give us valuable information on the solution and the benefit of our product. The answers showed that most people cook meals at home. And while most people try to be conservative with food, everyone occasionally wastes. We also found that the majority of respondents do not know where their local food bank is. After analyzing the data from the survey, we used our findings to write an interview script. The interviews sought to clarify some of the data received from the survey and to confirm the functions we planned to provide in the app.
The team used the data retrieved from the surveys and interviews to draw a persona. The persona encompassed an idea of what the user expects from the product. With the capabilities and functions of the mobile app, we realized anyone who cooks at home could use our product. Given this observation, we created a persona based on a mean of our interviewees. This persona allowed us to ask questions about the usage of the mobile app and the needs of the user.
After this, we started creating some low fidelity wireframes in Sketch. With a more cohesive idea about the look and feel of the application, we were able to create sitemaps. Using our persona and the low fidelity wireframes and sitemaps, we created a user story map. This story map gave us a richer understanding of how the user would navigate and use the app. It also gave us insight into what areas of our product we needed to change, improve, or remove altogether.
Next, we transferred our low fidelity wireframes into Invision to create a prototype. After writing a short interview script, we used the prototype to conduct usability testing. We had intended to have the app open on the Inventory page. After user testing, we discovered that most people wanted to see a Home page with a menu of choices first. We also discovered difficulties in finding how to add or remove items to the inventory. This gave us some crucial information on the functionality and layout of the mobile app. With this data, Amanda and I split from the group to create individual high fidelity wireframes and work towards a final product.
I then used the combined data and high fidelity wireframes to create a second prototype. I plan to continue usability testing and interviews to improve the application’s quality.
We found that while most people do not inordinately waste food. The amount wasted is proportional to one’s ability and willingness to use inventory management. Also, while most people consider themselves charitable they rarely donate. This is offset when food banks and drives advertise more often.
PantryPartner can help those looking for a better method to track food inventory. Through other functions of the app, it can also help raise awareness about food banks and drives and reduce food waste. This mobile app can help raise awareness about and combat hunger by providing newer and more in-depth methods of reducing food waste. This was the primary goal and I believe our team succeeded in achieving that goal.
Personal Growth -
As this is a case study for a UX Design course, it is also my first time working on a UX project. The whole process has been up and down in terms of time constraints and location during a pandemic. However, the experience has been overall positive. I have learned how important testing is, from 10x10 wireframes to usability testing. Having always been taught to trust my gut, this project has taught me to go back and rethink constantly. I have also developed a higher respect for, and willingness to accept, critique from my peers. This experience, and this project in particular, has certainly opened my eyes to the vast capabilities of UX Design.