What was the problem we set to solve? Why did it matter?
People with dietary restrictions face issues in their daily life. Students are busy, leaving less time to choose restaurants & look at compatible menu items. Their difficult is amplified by factors like social stigma & having an overall lack of information to take informed decisions.
What was our final solution?
Our final solution was an app, that helps users locate restaurants nearby compatible to their diet & view menus. Each restaurant would have a personalized match score for the user based on other users’ reviews & ratings.
How do we know it works?
I ensured that we stuck to a detailed design process throughout the project to ensure a high quality end product. Along with the feedback & guidance from various academia & professors.
We involved our target users throughout the process ensuring their voices were heard.
We scored very highly on our final product evaluation & end user survey.
Our team decided to try to split the work as evenly as possible, with certain members being responsible for specific parts. Here are some of my contributions -
Performed needs analysis through methods of Contextual Inquiry, Interviews & Market Research.
Led most of the 'design thinking' sessions including Brainstorming & Affinity Diagramming
Responsible for creating all infographics of the project including personas, revised affinity diagram & user journey maps
Created & revised part of the high-fidelity screens with Sketch
Facilitated 2 open ended interviews during needs analysis, 2 feedback interview sessions during the ideation phase & 3 concept evaluation interview & surverys at the final evaluation stage.
Designed project logo and created poster & video for competition entry
How can we enhance students with dietary restrictions’ restaurant going and meal selection process?
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The Big Pivot
Our initial goal was to understand issues students face while grocery shopping. But our initial interviews and observations led us to discover that after an initial discovery period, people often fall into a routine at the grocery store. What we thought was the main problem was actually secondary to other problem our interviewees brought up.
We then re-examined our research & pivoted to a more pressing need - inability to find restaurants to accommodate their dietary restrictions.
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Research & Results
Affinity Diagram Insights
I created the above infographic representation of the affinity diagram that our team made, so that we got another visual perspective. Here are the 3 key insights -
Around 1/2 of the remarks from users related to the 'Discovery phase', while eating out. Deciding where to eat.
Social Stigma & Choices available were the biggest factors related to decisions, that affected the users.
Overall, I realized that most of the insights generated by the users didn't seem to adhere to one specific category. The points mentioned by users were very often nuanced and had to be dissected from several layers of other underlying issues. This entire problem seemed fuzzier than I had imagined!
After analyzing our Affinity Diagram and user concerns, here is what our team came up with -
Simple to use
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To give us some guidance to kickstart the design process, we started off with asking the simple question:
who really are we designing for ?
Personas & User Journeys
Meet Vishnu! He's new to the country, is vegetarian & is rather shy bringing up his diet at public settings.
Then we have Vikki. She's a new vegan. Social, a tad bit impatient and a hell lot of headstrong!
And then there is Grace. She's just got diagnosed with Celiac disease at 19, so she's got to stick to gluten free foods from now on. Her family is very supportive, but she feels bad inconveniencing others!
During this ideation phase, I helped facilitate the brainstorming discussion. To make our brainstorming process more informed, I listed several items on the board. All of the things that should help us in case we needed to be reminded of our end goal. Or just to give us a little push.
Next, I thought it might be be a good idea to classify all our ideas based on their Feasibility & Creativity scale.
Our team then scored all the ideas based an aggregated score, of their potential, that we saw in them.
From these findings, we decided to look into the top 3 ideas that were rated the highest according to their potential.
An AR APP that allows a user to scan the menu with their phone. The app would then provides information based on the menu items and the user's restrictions.
An outdoor restaurant signboard system that uses QR codes so that a user could scan the code with their phone and get an instant rating of their compatibility with that restaurant's menu.
A Kiosk placed in a public setting around several restaurants. Where a user would be able to choose a meal from all compatible available options nearby them through the kiosk.
Once our mockups were created, we went out to get feedback on them from our users. We conduced a total of 6 moderated user feedback sessions. Below I have classified their feedback into three categories -
Restaurant - User Compatibility scoring
Restaurant proximity information
Using QR Codes would be cumbersome
Not comfortable using AR in public
Wanting granular level of detail on their dietary choices
Seeing reviews of restaurants directly from the app itself
Being able to use the app in a group setting
Converging Design Ideas
Ok, so now we had 3 pretty good ideas. Which gets us to our next part -
How do I pick a single best idea from the top 3?
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Map Viewing Page
APP user scenarios
App Visual Elements
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After completing our prototype, we took it to various users to get feedback, & evaluate our designs. We gave then two tasks to complete -
Choose your dietary restriction and pick a restaurant in the area where you would like to eat, keeping your dietary restriction in mind.
Pick a dish from a given restaurant for yourself, and for a friend.
These two tasks would help us know how the user would use the app. We gained insights from making the users 'think aloud', and asked them to provide a general SUS ( System Usability Scale) score to the app.
Our overall SUS score was 80.1
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My thoughts -
I would have loved to added the feature of allowing multiple user profiles for choose a restaurant.
I would have loved to look into creating an ecosystem of users, and finding ways of strengthening the user community too.
Also, trying to incorporate the core functionality of this app (the unique scoring system and personalized menu view) into a larger app's existing ecosystem to expand app outreach.