Beyond RISD NAIL Redesign DineTime Sort the Court Brown Hackathon Home Visual Design


'DineTime' is a an app that helps users track and manage their daily diet. It's primary goal is to encourage users who are undergoing transitions such as diet or pregnancy to track their eating habit by taking photos. Please click here to see the interactive prototype!

How might we help help people track and manage their daily diet?

Design Challenge

  • How do people manage their personal schedule for meals and eating habits?
  • How do people find a time-efficient way to learn to cook meals at home?
  • How do people find cheap and healthy ways to cook at home?
  • How are people currently tracking what they eat?

Design Scope

  • Project Length - 3 months
  • Week 1 (Contextual Inquiry, Interview Questions)
  • Week 2 (User Interviews, Transcribe)
  • Week 3 (Topline Research, Informal Report, List of Areas of Opportunities)
  • Week 4 (Competitive Analysis, Read 'About Face' by Alan Cooper)
  • Week 5 (Persona, Problem Statement)
  • Week 6 (Paper Prototype)
  • Week 7 (Usability Testing 1, Change in Direction)
  • Week 8 (Usability Testing 2)
  • Week 9 (Wireframes)
  • Week 10 (Usability Testing 3)
  • Week 10 (Final Wireframes)
  • Week 12 (Usability Testing 4, List of Further Iterations)
  • Learn how to backup design using research evidence
  • Experience research, iterate, test, and repeat
  • Learn to be a good team-player

Design Research

Our team of 3 UX designers have difficulty managing our meals from time to time due to our busy schedules. We know the challenge does not apply to only us because we would observe and hear our close friends sharing difficulties about budgeting, planning, and wasting meals. We became curious to know how we can help make people's interaction with food more convenient and pleasant.

Observe Ask Do diagram
    Our team decided to divide the broad topic into seven different categories to observe, ask and do:
  1. Budget
  2. Waste
  3. Variety
  4. Social Expectation/Desire
  5. Health
  6. Convenience
  7. Knowledge

I researched 'waste' and 'variety' of foods. I oberved the various food people ordered and quantity and variety of food people wasted at the RISD cafetarias, experienced recording how much food I buy and waste, and interviewed 8 people to get feedback on the experiences The results of my contextual inquiry can be found here.

    Contexual Inquiry Recap

  • Budget correlates to better eating, due to planning and prioritization.
  • Food waste correlates to students wanting to home-cook, and buying food: wants>needs.
  • Users depend on and often eat out of convenience which is seen to be directly related to the amount of time they have/don’t have.

    Interview Questions Round 1 (16 Users)

  1. What does your average daily eating schedule look like? (meals, snacks, beverages)
  2. How often do you eat on campus?
  3. How often do you eat out?
  4. How much of a priority are meals to you?
  5. How often do you cook? (budget, variety, waste)
  6. How often do you go grocery shopping and where?
affinity mapping
Variety of color post-its are from Interview Round 1(left), green post-its are from Interview Round 2(right).

    Interview Questions Round 2 (11 Users)

  1. Why & when do you eat out?
  2. How often do you eat out in a time span of a week?
  3. What is the range you are comfortable spending when you eat out?
  4. Do you eat out more than you intend to and if you do why?
  5. Do you budget for eating out?

Interview transcripts can be found here

Research Synthesis

Research Synthesis Propose Questions

Design Ideation

Blue-sky intiial idea
Idea 1 - Users would take picture of a prepared meal, and phone can assume all ingredients required, how to prepare the meal, and the time constraints that go into preparing it.
Blue-sky intiial idea
Idea 2 - Users can choose a meal that you want delivered to you with all the ingredients prepared to be cooked (similar to Blue Apron). Payment is per meal. Ingredients are delivered on a scheduled time.

Blue-sky initial idea

We decided to combine the two ideas. Users would take a picture of a prepared meal, and ingredients are delivered home to be cooked along with recipe. Then, the user cooks the meal with the provided ingredients.

Competitive Analysis

    A Mobile App that:

  • is for cyclical regular use
  • helps people have improved dining experience
  • provide options that are convenient (time and budget)
  • Personal (individual use)

    Feature List

  • Take photo of meal
  • Identify meal ingredients Phone Sensory (AI - robotic features)
  • Enter delivery destination
  • Able to control portion size
  • Enter payment method
  • Schedule delivery date and time

Paper Sketch

1 / 4
2 / 4
3 / 4
3 / 4
User Testing 1

From our first usability testing insights, we came to the conclusion that there needed to be a change in the direction of our idea. Our group decided to revisit our list of area of opportunity questions and target two main questions. Our main goal for the app changed from creating a specific solution such as delivery and using AI to raising personal awareness toward user's eating habits.

    Revisit Areas of Opportunities

  • How might an app help people manage their personal schedule for meals and eating habits?
  • How might an app allow people to take photos of their meals to manage personal schedule and eating habits?

    For users to improve their :

  • irregular eating schedule
  • irregular portions
  • poor meal decisions
  • a decrease in meals and an increase in snacks
  • too much eating out

Design Prototype

Due to time constraints, our group decided to try three ways the app could be visualized and conduct usability testings. We would then come together with our insights and create one final prototype together.

Three Versions

User Testing 2

Rough Prototype Link

User Testing 3 Information Architecture

Interactive Prototype Link

Design Reflection

During the 12 weeks of this project, I learned how to research a broad topic of food to identifying a specific problem of managing eating habits, and proposing an app that could aid users' awareness of their daily food intake. This project involved a long process that included interviewing 27 people and testing prototype mockups with 34 users. The greatest challenge for this project was time-management, and choosing whether to conduct further user testings to validate our design choices or compromise by moving forward in the process. Nonetheless, every step of the process taught me a lesson and working in a team helped me to become a more broad-minded designer.

    I learned the following...

  • Transcribing interviews is an arduous process; however, is it truly the best method to provide evidence to back up design choices.
  • When there is a disagreement in a team, think about the user and conduct an additional usability test.
  • Always try to empathize with your teammates and empathize with the user.