Masters Major Project • 18 Weeks • Individual project
User Research • UX Design • UI Design
Design a meaningful project which addresses a clear societal need or has the potential to improve the lives or wellbeing of others significantly. The project should therefore broadly align to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
Research report • Product development report • Product presentation
Approximately %33 of the groceries purchased for household consumption go to the bins in the UK (Evans, 2011), and food waste takes the percentage of 17% of the average annual household waste (Defra, 2015). Food waste has a social impact as it affects increases in global food prices, resulting in turning food into less accessible for the poorest people as well as increasing malnutrition both in developed and developing countries (Stuart, 2009).
Food waste happens because of relationships between multiple behaviours called 'specific food behaviours'. These behaviours are classified as planning, storing, preparing, and consuming food (Quested et al., 2011). I assumed that maintaining harmony between them is one of the critical solutions for household food waste.
Moreover, becoming mindful about planning and shopping stages may have a significant role as they start the consumption cycle. So my research hunt statement shaped as;
I want to understand reasons of food waste related with grocery shopping and the eating habits of busy young professionals to find opportunities to help them become more mindful of their grocery shopping and reduce their household food waste.
Young professionals who work full-time tend to have less planning and flexibility in their shopping, cooking, and dining habits resulting in more waste (Grasso et al., SÁNCHEZ, 2020). I scooped the target into single individuals living in a shared house to observe the effects of restricted storage and social pressure on food waste.
I did a comprehensive literature review about household food waste reasons and current prevention methods in the context of grocery shopping. Additionally, I researched mindful shopping and mindfulness practices on preventing food waste because I assume busy and stressful moments, people tend to do impulsive shopping, which may lead to food waste.
I planned the research as it diverges to grocery planning, shopping, cooking, food handling habits, and their relations with food waste while exploring mindful food shopping blogs and guidelines. Then the research converged into the planning and shopping context to uncover key pain points and mindful shopping and mindfulness guidelines together to test their potential.
Online Ethnography: I collected data from 20 personal blogs from mindfulness practitioners who apply mindful shopping principles to their consumption habits and blogs that share experiences from former impulsive shoppers due to the time limitation of finding participants.
Semi-structured Interview: I recruited 11 participants by either convenience sampling or snowball sampling. I tried to vary participants from different professions and city locations to prevent the lack of representativeness caused by snowball sampling. I interviewed diary study participants with the same guide to prompt their food waste awareness, which enabled me to collect a significant amount of qualitative data.
Diary Study: 4 participants were recruited with purposive sampling to observe the diverse effects of mindfulness on their experiences through the provided interventions (Cockbill, Lilley and Mitchell, 2017). I chose two of them due to their environmentally conscious lifestyle, accompanied by mindfulness experiences such as doing yoga or meditation occasionally. The other two regarding their younger age and relatively less conscious of their food waste compare both groups.
I recorded my grocery shopping experiences to identify distractions at the grocery stores which prompt unplanned purchases. I utilised the outcomes to refine the interview guide.
I evaluated the mindful shopping guidelines which I gathered from secondary research and online ethnograpy. Then I applied the potent interventions on the diary study plan.
I hoard plant milk because I don't want any
surprises in the morning not having it.
I love country themes at the shop since
different products can be bought.
I use drawers in my room to store food because I overbuy and our kitchen storage isn't enough for my little grocery store
snacks drawer : I feel ashamed of having millions of different chips
My Shopping diary with emotion logs.
Guaranteed engagement with the tasks.
Biased because I had an awareness about
What do people do to shop mindfully?
What are the motivations and barriers to becoming a mindful shopper?
How do mindfulness practitioners relate mindfulness and food shopping?
Key Findings from Online Ethnography
Easy access to participants with particular experiences, feelings, and expertise.
No interaction - lacks deeper understanding.
Distant past events may not reflect the current view.
What are the effects of shopping habits on food waste behaviour?
What are the effects of planning and cooking habits on food waste behaviour?
How do distractions at the shops affect food waste behaviour?
What are the emotions and thoughts about wasting food? Do they have a significant effect on behaviour?
I conducted 11 semi-structured interviews (8 online, 3 face-to-face), and recorded the sessions with the participant's consent. I prepared my guide on the miro board and I used the mobile transcription tool otter.ai to transcribe the data.
Semi-Structured Interview Guide
Focused on what the people say rather than what people do.
Analyzing transcripts took a lot of time.
Quick and easy data collection compared to the diary study.
Controlled conversations and gathered deeper insights.
I conducted the diary study to gather more accurate data on food waste and shopping distractions utilising the online ethnography platform Indeemo app. Since it is remote research, I did two pilot studies and iterated it in the most engaging and straightforward way. Participants downloaded the app to their phones and logged their food waste and grocery shopping. Specific tasks are purposely scheduled and sent to them to prompt.
Diary study structure
How accurately do people aware of their food waste? What are the instant reflections on it?
What do people buy differently than their intentions during grocery shop, and why?
How effective are the external interventions and keeping a waste diary on food waste awareness?
Task examples from the diary study.
Diary logs from a participant.
Instant and accurate food waste reflections.
Ability to test mindfulness interventions.
Hard to keep all participants engaged.
14 days of app licence limited data collection.
Data Analysis & Syntesis
I used multiple analysis methods to make sense of the data and combined the findings with findings from the literature review to generate actionable insights.
I utilised affinity diagramming to analyse interview memos since it is helpful to organise a large number of findings and create relationships between them. I have added findings from online ethnography and literature review as well to gather deeper insights.
I created user journey maps for diary study participants to visualise and analyse their data on a timeline. It helped me to see the effect of interventions on their food waste awareness.
Journey map of a diary study participant.
I built an empathy map to identify what people do/say/feel, and think so that I could see the complex reasons behind their food waste. It also helped me to build the persona since I articulated pain points and motivations.
I prepared a persona to better understand my target group and make sense of the findings in their context. Persona iterated alongside the develop phase through additional research findings and ideation.
There is always an invisible food in the fridge or pantry that is hopelessly waiting to be eaten one day and always discovered after it is too late. They exist for both mindful and casual buyers, regardless of storage conditions or cooking frequency. These foods can be unusual items bought for occasional meals or stored in hidden locations that are overlooked in a busy professional life.
I developed three actionable insights from my analysis and evaluated their potential for solving food waste issues. I selected insightful list-making as the focus because it could provide solutions at the planning stage and result in a product rather than a service.
Insightful List Making
Making a shopping list provides the power of control over buying and secures satisfaction of the needs. Besides practical benefits, research showed that it might also prompt self-reflection if it is used as a diary. It enables the user to become aware of their problematic patterns of food shopping, which may have a positive effect on food waste.
People waste food due to poor portion control, lack of shopping knowledge, poor planning, and lack of awareness of personal needs, leading to less guilt-inducing food waste behaviour. Those who do mindful shopping are confident in finding a balance between eating and shopping, resulting in less waste.
UX Vision Statement
There is an opportunity to design a product for busy young professionals who want to reduce their household food waste BUT struggle to harmonise their shopping and cooking habits BECAUSE they often feel less engaged with their shopping lists and are unaware of why they waste food due to their stressful life.
Develop & Deliver Phases
I initially tried to create an immersive experience to increase engagement with the shopping list using analogy ideation and exploring the use of sound and haptics to bring a synesthetic experience. However, I found that prioritizing technology over the user's context did not yield meaningful results. Despite not achieving my desired outcome, I learned how to ideate for AR and its spatial connections with the user.
I carried out detailed primary research to understand the mental process of making a shopping list. This included conducting think-aloud sessions with 5 participants. They were asked to make their shopping list for the following week while sharing their screens and were encouraged to refer to their fridges or recipes as needed. I also asked them how their process would differ in a busy and stressful period to gain deeper insights.
I found that the flow of list-making varies from person to person. To further explore this, I conducted an online card sorting survey with a larger sample size, which confirmed that there is no typical flow but helped to prioritize list-making themes and eliminate uncommon areas. The survey also revealed that there is no typical time for list-making.
I made a competitor analysis of regular shopping list apps and the ones that use Ai to explore current solutions and sustain novelty in my design process. I discovered that shopping list-making could be a very complex experience, so I need to keep the interface as simple as possible.
After additional research revisiting the experience map, I adjusted my concept direction to an ai based shopping list-making app, and I crafted my final concept statement to start ideation and wireframing.
X is a smart shopping list assistance app with a focus on preventing food waste that helps busy young professionals who want to make shopping lists quickly and accurately, by learning users' shopping habits according to their moods and food waste patterns.
Revisiting Experience Map
Based on the results of additional research, I revised the experience map and modified the key actionable points to create the final concept. The updated version of the experience map is shown below.
Revisiting Experience Map
After additional research, I adjusted my concept direction to an ai based shopping list-making app and I crafted my final concept statement to start ideation and wireframing.
Ideation stage, I explored how to implement different moods and how to project the mood themes on the Ui. I tried to keep the interface as simple as possible and ideate on adding items to the list as easily and minimally as possible.
I choosed the name mooderate because this app learns your moods and moderates your shoppings accordingly.
I decided to articulate the product personality to guide Ui, the look and feel of the experience. It also helped me evaluate functions that didn't align with product objections to make the app minimal and spot-on. I chose the name moderate because it offers different interfaces for the user's mood and moderates their shopping habits accordingly.
Design for Ai
An artificial intelligence (AI) system has been developed to create a digital habit tracker that can analyze the shopping patterns of a user based on their mood and suggest favorite items to make the shopping list process more convenient. Additionally, this AI system has also been used to create a digital guide that provides tips for saving food and indicates expiration characteristics for purchased items. It can also remind the user to reflect on food waste and adjust its suggestions based on the user's actions.
Data won't be shared to 3rd parties.
It will suggest only healthy food options and recipes.
Location tracker is mandatory for list-making and check-off reminders, but these features are optional so that location tracker can be disabled anytime.
Due to the complex nature of the shopping list experience and adding food waste prevention solutions led to many ideas and features emerging from the ideation process. It is crucial to design the app as simply as possible to compete with the ease of making lists on paper.
To ensure simplicity and clarity, I prioritized the features with MoSCow method (Agile Business, 2021). Although it accelerated the decision-making phase, it was iterated accordingly concept evaluation and user testing.
I used body storming to quickly test and iterate the key flows. 2 participants explored the experience and co-created suggestions and ai traits. I aimed to see if the behaviour steering scenario was realistic and whether it sounded meaningful for the target user to make mindful decisions while list-making.
I acted as the app while the participant tested the shopping list-making experience with a given scenario. It was a think-a-loud session, and we iterated the concept throughout the process.
Introducing the moods functions.
Body-storming the list making experience.
The participant stated that having suggestions with images resembles the experience of roaming at the shop, which is a different way, better than writing on a notepad.
The language was iterated into gentle and informative language focusing on the wins on the suggestion options.
I built the site map of the app to see the experience flows, evaluate functions and make the concept more succinct. It helped me to refine or remove certain features, such as creating a community page. Removed functions were ghosted, and artificial intelligence functions were shown in green on the map.
Lo-fi Prototype & User Testing
I conducted user tests with a lo-fi prototype to evaluate the busy mood function, which helps users create faster and more accurate shopping lists when they are busy and stressed. The function learns from the user's shopping history, favourite items, and food waste diary, and suggests more durable food options to encourage wise purchasing.
I wanted to test the experience flows and potential effectiveness of Behaviour Change strategies, but usability comments were also encouraged. Two participants from the target group performed a given scenario and shopping list in both moods with the lo-fi prototype thinking aloud. After the sessions, we co-design the flows and the notifications.
Pain Point: P1 got frustrated by the behaviour steering strategy of the search function. He found not being able to see the item he searched for first annoying.
Iteration: Feedback strategy applied instead of behaviour steering after exploring possible solutions to convince the user to buy the frozen version.
Pain Point: To save favourite tips doesn’t make sense. I would never go and check my saved tips. I would rather prefer to see the tips tailored for my list.
Iteration: The tips section enriched with 10 minutes recipes and saving tips out of the last list items. I changes when the list change.
Pain Point: List interface designed to re-order accordingly to the categories, aming to enable a fast shopping experience. However, both participants found it annoying and hard to understand if the item is added or not.
Iteration: The list will be in the order of the last added item on the top and grows down to show the item added.
Hi-fi Prototype & User Testing
I conducted think-aloud user testing with 2 participants with the hi-fi prototype to see the effectiveness of the iterations alongside testing the food waste diary and tips features. I aimed to test & iterate communication of the Ui and usability of the functions. Sessions took place online via video calls, and the same scenario was used due to the complex nature of the shopping list app to save time on prototyping.