Thrift - The food wastage prevention app
Thrift is an app which focuses on reducing/preventing household waste by helping users manage their food waste. Thrift primarily targets users who are concerned with the amount of food they waste and would like to learn more about what they can do to reduce waste.
May 2022 - June 2022
According to the Food waste Index report, 2021 released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 17% of all food available at the consumer level is wasted whereas 61% is contributed by wastage from households.
It was identified that lack of general knowledge about food waste and limited understanding of personal impact as crucial drivers for continued food waste.
Design an app that will improve education on the topic of food waste and help people manage their own food waste.
UX designer leading the app and responsive website design from conception to delivery.
Conducting interviews, paper and digital wireframing, low and high-fidelity prototyping, conducting usability studies, accounting for accessibility, iterating on designs, determining information architecture, and responsive design.
User research: summary
As foundational research, data from the UNEP food waste index report 2021 was used to develop interview questions, which were then used to conduct user interviews. Most interview participants reported feeling bad about food waste, but they didn’t actively try to reduce their own food waste. The feedback received through research made it very clear that users would be open and willing to work towards eliminating food waste if they had access to an easy-to-use tool to help guide them.
Persona 1: Kamala
Kamala is a working student who needs reminders, suggestions and coaching to cook more often with fresh ingredients because she wants to start cooking and want to make it a part of her routine.
Persona 2: Katerina
Katerina is a working professional who needs exciting new recipes that make tasty, easily reheated leftovers because most of the food they’re throwing out is old food that they lost track of.
An audit of a few competitors’ products provided direction on gaps and opportunities to address with the Thrift app.
Link to sheet
Some gaps we identified include:
Seva Kitchen and Cozzo haven’t optimised their app and desktop experiences for accessibility or inclusivity.
Cozzo and Too good to go’s the recipe and shopping list features include overcomplicated elements.
Too good to go has weak information architecture.
Too good to go uses buttons and icons that are not clearly labelled or easy to understand.
Some opportunities we identified include:
Optimize the app and website for accessibility by including, at a minimum: robust images throughout, accessibility-friendly colour options, and screen reader compatibility. We should also offer language translation options, and consider other ways to make our designs more equitable.
Simplify any recipe, shopping, and waste tracking features without reducing the quality or usefulness of the feature.
Be strategic in creating the website and app’s information architecture and make sure that it serves user needs.
Clearly label buttons and icons.
Develop a strong brand identity that is consistent between desktop and mobile.
I did a quick ideation exercise to come up with ideas for how to address gaps identified in the competitive audit. My focus was specifically on waste tracking and simple recipe features.
After ideating and drafting some paper wireframes, I created the initial designs for the app. These designs focus on delivering personalized guidance to users to help manage their food.
Easy access to app features from global navigation
The top half of the home screen acts as a food coach by providing personalized recommendations for users.
To prepare for usability testing, I created a low-fidelity prototype that connected the user flow of viewing an item about to expire and using it in a recipe.
Usability study: parameters
Study type: Unmoderated usability study
Location: India, remote
Participants: 5 participants
Length: 20-30 minutes
Usability study: findings
People want easy access to recipes that specifically use the food they already own.
People had difficulty adding new food items to the app.
People preferred clear indications of when food items would expire.
Based on the insights from the usability studies, I applied design changes like providing a clear section from the home screen to browse recipes that specifically use items available in “My Food”.
Before usability study
After usability study
Before usability study
After usability study
Additional design changes included adding an option to “Add new item” to the “My Food” page, and providing a clearer indication of how many days were left before an item expired.
The high-fidelity prototype followed the same user flow as the low-fidelity prototype, including design changes made after the usability study.
Clear labels for interactive elements that can be read by screen readers.
The initial focus of the home screen on personalized recommendations helps define the primary task or action for the user.
With the app designs completed, I started work on designing the responsive website. I used the sitemap to guide the organizational structure of each screen’s design to ensure a cohesive and consistent experience across devices.
The designs for screen size variation included mobile, tablet, and desktop. I optimized the designs to fit the specific user needs of each device and screen size.
Users shared that the app made food waste seem like something they could actually help reduce. One quote from peer feedback was that “the Thrift app helps bring caring about the environment to a personal level in a way that’s easy and engaging.”
What I learned:
I learned that even though the problem I was trying to solve was a big one, diligently going through each step of the design process and aligning with specific user needs, helped me come up with solutions that were both feasible and useful.
Conduct research on how successful the app is in reaching the goal to reduce food waste.
Add more educational resources for users to learn about food waste.
Provide incentives and rewards to users for successfully reducing their food waste.