Challenge Develop a modern solution to the growing epidemic of food intolerance and sensitivity in the UK. Current methods are outdated and ineffective and sufferers find it increasingly difficult to manage and understand their problem.
Pen and paper
Food intolerance is now a very common and serious problem in the UK. It affects the lives of 45% of the currently population. (45% of Current UK population = 29,4794,994 people – 2017). While the symptoms can be very varied and diverse, they can all be solved through proper management of diet and lifestyle.
My project will help people to overcome their food intolerance by assisting them to improve their dietary management. The service/product will provide compelling motivation and engagement to help introduce and support a healthy balanced lifestyle.
The Double Diamond Design process is an iterative 4 stage design process which provides designers, creatives and businesses a framework to organise, structure, run and manage design challenges and projects. I used this model, in this project as well as others, to guide and define major steps and developments. My own simplified version of the diagram shows how the process is broken into four phases;
- Discover (Research) – Gaining insight into the problem (Divergent)
- Define (Synthesis) – Outlining the area to focus upon (Convergent)
- Develop (Ideation) – Potential solutions (Divergent)
- Deliver (Implementation) – Creating solutions that work (Convergent)
To better understand the problem and how to design an appropriate solution, a broad range of primary and secondary research was conducted over a number of months. The initial hunt statement was as follows: ‘I will research the problems that people face when trying to diagnose and manage food allergies and intolerances. This will aid the development of a new sophisticated system that can promote active management of lifestyle and improve overall health.’ This research has been summarised for clarity.
Initial concepts were created based on research conducted into the problem. Research focused initially on success and motivation in exercise and dieting. After conducting a wide variety of research into the problem, it became clear that the mental side of the process was far more impactful than the physical. These findings in turn, changed the focus from routine and exercise as a way of maintaining engagement to exploring mental and holistic methods to generate and maintain motivation.
Secondary research was conducted using a variety of online and physical resources:
1. Online Articles
2. Food and Health Blogs
3. Medical Journals
4. Holistic and Mainstream Videos
5. Social Media
6. Government Reports
The first stage of the primary research process was centred around the target user. To conduct appropriate and effective research, a stakeholdermap was created to outline people that had an influence and effect on the target users. Below is the third and final refined version of the map.
A series of semi-structured interviews were carried out with stakeholders of importance. For a full scope of the problem, interviews were conducted with users from all three staleholder groups shown above, as well as the target users themselves. Some interviews with target users were carried out in groups for additional insights. Interviews with holistic and mainstream health professionals were conducted solo on Skype or face to face.
A key insight from the interviews was that many users were completely unsure of how to address their issue and had little or no trust in mainstream solutions. To help us both understand their problems more clearly, a journey mapping exercise was created to map and identify issues throughout their dietary journey.
These user journeys created much deeper insights into user problems, motivations and ideals. They helped to outline 4 key areas in which the target users struggled with their problems. These areas were:
1. The fist step (Realising there is a problem)
4. Interactions with doctors
Co-design was crucial to the success of this project. A number of brainstorming sessions and exercises were conducted throughout research and development to evaluate the viability of the concept at each stage.
Word Association and Creative Exercises
To further support findings, a series of additional methods were created to extract deeper meaning from the target users. These exercises included word-association tasks and re-enactments. The word association exercise was designed to explore the psychology behind participant problems and behaviours. This exercise helped to strengthen the understanding of sufferers’ reactions and opinions on the current problems and solutions.
In total, 186 individual insights were collated from users and stakeholders. These insights were then grouped into 29 themes which were again grouped into 14 areas of over-arching concern. These insights helped to define the major problems to focus on. Below the images are the final 14 problem areas that were defined.
1. Existing Methods and Services
2. Maintaining Engagement
3. The Issue is Growing
4. Accuracy and Tracking
5. Technology Available VS Technology in Use
6. Utilising and Encouraging Support
7. Lack of Proper Self-assistance
8. New Medicine
9. Time and Patience
10. Taking Responsibility
11. Privacy and Confidentiality
12. Increased Interest
13. Lack of Knowledge
14. Everyone is Different
Development was conducted with a user-centred focus based on problem areas outlined in research. Both functional and visual developments were carried out alongside further research to improve the chosen concept. These developments were evaluated and prototyped at several stages to gain feedback and insight from users.
Four personas were created, each with varying task and experience goals as well as backgrounds created from research. These personas were created to ensure that the solution would meet the needs of the user.
Functionality was incredibly important within this new application as the process of diet and intolerance identification and management is incredibly dense. Several task flows, flow diagrams and wireframes were created and then tested for improvement with target users.
Exploring ways that users could interact with and use the new service. These exercises helped to identify interactions which users found positive and also interactions which confused them.
Alongside primary and secondary research, concepts were being created and developed to solve the user problems. These concepts were refined several times into 5 core concepts. These concepts were then discussed in co-design exercises and evaluated on a behaviour change matrix. The top two concepts were combined to create the direction for the final solution.
The visual elements of the solution were also developed alongside functionality based on feedback and insights from research, as well as co-design exercises.
Interactions and Guidance
Developing ways to communicate and highlight functionality.
A major finding from research was that the target users find it difficult to maintain concentration and engagement with a process they do not fully understand. Many of the existing solutions to these problems did not help encourage and guide interaction with users. When developing the branding for this project, there needed to be a balance between science and fun. Below are some examples of initial visuals developed for the solution.
Prior to serious visual development, mood boards were created to identify directions for colour palettes, layouts and interactions. These moodboards formed the basis of several visual components of medium fidelity prototypes before being tested with designers and users. They were also used to test users’ emotional responses to certain types of imagery.
Gamification and Reward
To help simplify the process and stages of intolerance identification and management, Eddie was created. Eddie is the Feed mascot who guides the users through the process, making it simpler, faster and more entertaining. Several animations were created to illustrate how he would interact with users throughout the prototype.
Several varying prototypes were created to test different components of the design. A full working prototype was created in Axure to illustrate the steps involved in the major parts of the process.
Each prototype was tested with users to identify ways to improve interactions, visuals and functionality.
Feed is a new dietary management app, bringing the only successful method of intolerance identification into the 21st Century. Using smart AI and machine learning, it helps you identify your problem more accurately than ever. It becomes aware of what is causing you dietary stress and discomfort and brings the joy of cooking back to the user by creating personalised menus. It also simplifies the whole experience by streamlining the ordering process, helping deliver the food straight to your door whenever you need it.
Solving the Problem
The new Feed app, aimed to solve target user pain points as shown below. The experience design principles and user requirements were created following the completion of the primary and secondary research and were addressed as labelled.