- Mobile App Reducing Household Food Waste
Mobile app mockups
Food waste happens in many walks of life, in large quantities from big restaurants, to single homes not keeping leftovers; food waste is all around us. Effects of food waste are catastrophic and affect millions of people. Here are some key numbers of food waste in US:
How might we help people reduce household food waste?
While I was searching statistics on food waste, I found out that a large portion of waste waste comes from households, and this led to my initial question:
I mainly adopted design thinking process but since I only have 5 days left before the deadline, I didn’t do usability testing for the app.
Reflecting on my own experience, I often forget what’s left in my fridge so the food got rotten. I go grocery shopping regularly but I often eat outside, so I really want something to help me manage my fridge food and reduce food waste, therefore I searched quite a few apps in the app store and found 4 typical ones: Fridge Pal, Pantry Check, NoWaste and My Fridge Food
After trying all of their features I summarized some pain points while using them, which become the opportunity areas for me to design the new app.
Requiring a lot of input from end-users, which could be time-consuming
Users need to check the app frequently to track expiry dates
No suggestions on how to deal with about-to-expire food
Opportunity areas for FridgeMate:
To better understand our potential users, I interviewed with 8 peoples from all walks of life, aging 20 to 35. The interview is semi-structured and all the questions are open-ended, just to make sure people could think out loud and share more details on their eating habits, how they deal with food waste, and how they wish they could reduce the household food waste. During the interview, I found out that most of the married people, especially women with children, tend to cook by their own and have a better sense of how to deal with each food item they bought, while young students and professionals are more likely to dine outside, order delivery food, and forget what they store in the fridge.
Therefore, our target users would be students and young professionals, especially those who don’t cook often.
Based on the research insights, I developed a primary persona demonstrating our target users, especially their goals and pain points.
Reframe design question
The above findings helped us further narrow down our problem statement, so we came up with our final design question:
How might we help students and young professionals reduce household food waste efficiently?
Based on the opportunity areas I summarized, I defined FridgeMate’s product structure. Users can view overall status and soon-to-expire food items on the homescreen;they could add items by scanning the receipt; Track expiry dates of each food item in inventory, and tap in to see more details as well as storage tips and recipes.Users can mark the food finished in both inventory and detail screen.
Feature 1: Scan receipt to add purchased items to inventory
Place receipt in front of camera to take a photo
Tapping on “create list” analyzes the photo
Receipt photo is then translated to a list of items, which then can be added to existing inventory
Feature 2: Notifications on soon-to-expire items
User receives a push notification every day regarding fridge inventory
Tapping on notification takes user into the app home screen with daily summary
Feature 3: Track and deal with the food items
User can see list of items in the inventory tab with remaining days before expiration
User can mark something as finished (eaten) by simply swiping the item to the right
User can tap into each item to see more detail; user can also mark item as finished here
REFLECTIONS AND NEXT STEPS
Constraints and concerns
What if the item on receipt is unrecognizable, for example, items written in abbreviation
Product features and product thinking:
Lack of error recovery: what if people mark the food eaten by mistake?
What if there are too many food items in inventory?
What are the incentives for users to record their food items? What is the rewards for them if they reduce their food waste?
Categorize the items by their kinds, placement, and etc.
Create incentives, e.g. coupons or points if users waste no food
Add a dashboard illustrating how much food the users have consumed, categorize consumed and unconsumed food items
Double confirmation to reduce the impact of user errors
Design more solutions to add food into inventory, e.g. partner with online stores so users don’t even need to scan the receipt
Increase color contrast ratio for text, icons for better accessibility
Enable multi-modality, e.g. build an Alexa skill and use VUI to get information