Food On the Go
A project I worked on as part of my graduate-level Design Thinking Course.
Role: Experience Designer
Project Status: Complete
As part of my graduate-level Design Thinking course in Spring 2022, I was assigned a final project where the goal was to develop a solution for the phrase "food on the go." We were given no additional context outside of the guidelines that it could not be a mobile application and needed to be a solution that could make real impact.
For this project, we worked in cross-functional teams. In my group, I was working with Caroline Jones, a Public Policy student at the LBJ School at UT, and Stephanie Cyrill, a UX Design student at UT's iSchool. We each brought our unique perspectives to the table as we sought to collectively collaborate in order to understand the problem, conduct research, and ultimately develop a solution.
The Beginning Process
The primary goal of the project was to develop a solution for "food on the go" while employing the design thinking process.
Empathize -> Define -> Ideate -> Prototype -> Test
To begin, the team met together and had a 5 minute brainstorming session in which we rapidly ideated questions that intrigued us about the topic at hand. We quickly discovered that we each had plenty of curiosities as it pertained to food access, sustainability, and education.
Once we identified out target areas for the potential solution, each of the members of our team began conducting extensive desk research in an effort to identify key insights that could help us narrow our focus even further. While researching, we discovered that the area in and around Austin, Texas is home to over 70 areas considered food deserts, meaning that they are places where food isn't easily accessible.
Furthermore, we began conducting subject matter expert interviews to garner more insights from individuals conducting research or working in the areas of food access and sustainability.
The group and I also began conducting user interviews to further uncover the pain points that community members have and the problems they face.
We quickly discovered that one of the biggest issues facing the Austin community was access to healthy food options and education about healthy food. People tend to associate healthy food with being expensive and unattainable, so they decide to not purchase healthy ingredients because they do not know much about many of the food options that exist.
During a visit to a local farmer's market, we uncovered that giving consumers more information and cooking ideas for unfamiliar produce positively influences purchase consideration and interest in eating healthy. The owner tested utilizing cards that had recipes and information about certain produce, and noticed that this helped increase the number of customers purchasing the produce.
While conducting field research we interviewed a few families to learn why they had brought their young child to the farmer's market and how frequent they visit. After a brief conversation, we discovered that many of the families would eat healthy and visit farmer's markets to begin setting a good example for their children at a young age.
Finding a Solution
Our team's interviews and field research led us to discover that kids are a great way to connect with adults and encourage them to eat healthy. By creating a solution that was geared towards educating young children about healthy foods, we thought maybe this would help get them excited about the foods, which in turn would have an impact on their parents.
After our extensive field and desk research and conducting user and subject matter expert interviews, we began rapidly ideating. With all of our research in mind, we began completing user journey and empathy maps, as well as timelines to truly put ourselves in the shoes of our target user of our potential solution.
We conducted brainstorming sessions as a team, coming up with any and every idea we could come up with. Ranging from information system solutions to innovative food trucks, we decided to go a simpler route.
Utilizing a large board and sticky notes, we mapped out our research and user journey maps to properly visualize our entire data set.
Our group ended up stumbling upon an unconventional idea –– a piñata filled with healthy food options, and fun, educational material.
Our goal was to have a solution that made kids excited and interested in healthy foods. After conducting a test run and a final run, we found that this idea actually made kids more curious and excited about healthy foods. They were very curious about the healthy candy and snack items we put in the piñata. We even observed parents reading their kids the informational cards, educating their kids about what they said and what the information meant. We had several parents tell us that they loved our idea and thought is was something that could be implemented in the real world at grocery stores and farmer's markets around the country.
In the end, our solution was successful. This project gave me the confidence to learn and practice the design thinking process in a real world context. Also, developing a solution that could have real world impact and implications was a fascinating experience.
I learned how to confidently conduct expansive desk and field research while also conducting comprehensive interviews with prospective users and even subject matter experts while working in a cross-functional team environment.