UX Designer, UX Researcher (Solo Project)
Research-related: Semi-structured interviews
Design-related: storyboards, sketching, prototyping
Dec 2018 - Dec 2018
This was an individual UX project in which I owned the end-to-end research & design process. I aimed to design a mobile app that helps people overcome anxiety of daily cooking and provides intuitive recipe recommendations. The app is called One Hour that resembles the concept of "short time" for cooking.
People nowadays are living a busier life than ever before. It's hard to decide what to cook and eat on a daily basis, especially for those who have limited cooking skills. Choosing what to eat among massive choices could be very stressful.
This individual project aimed to ease people's decision-making in everyday cooking by turning the stressful experience of deciding what to make into a fun exploration.
1. People are sensitive to time. Time is not a tangible thing so it needs some formats to realize itself. The only way to develop a habit and build a strong attachment is through time. I got inspiration from Google Calendar as it is a tool that most people use every day. It's time sensitive, caring and controllable. As people use it more often, they build trust with the app. Naming the app as One Hour implies that the app functions around the clock and accompanies users all the time.
2. A symbol stands for efficiency. People nowadays live in a fast-growing society where work-life balance is highly emphasized. We want to be able to manage everyday life events effectively, including cooking and eating. The concept of One Hour speaks to a reasonable time of cooking that is considered efficient based on users' needs and preferences.
To help understand what have been done and to learn from the strengths and weaknesses from the existing products, I completed a thorough competitive analysis on 4 commonly used recipe apps. I found that these recipe apps share a common pitfall in presenting excessive, overwhelming information to users.
In order to better understand people’s frustrations and needs about eating and cooking food, I conducted unstructured interviews with my friends and delved deeper into their cooking problems. The interviews covered the following points:
In order to learn more about target users' lifestyle, I asked more questions about their daily life. Here I found the very typical picture of people living in the digital age.
Based on the user interviews and feedback, I used storyboarding to visually summarize the challenges and insights I found.
Inspired by Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I drew the below food hierarchy to illustrate the relationship between humans and food influenced by today's technology and plentiful resources.
Information Overload: We have massive choices on food selections. The ability to choose whatever we eat can be overwhelming at the same time. People feel frustrated when they lose the capability of control. According to The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, the abundance of choice often leads to depression and loneliness.
Self-Representation: What we eat is also influenced by who we are. We are bound to our habits, preferences and even personalities and cultures when we cook food. In other words, food is a self-representation in modern life.
Sentiment: The expectation of having delightful experience affects how we eat. We became more aware of food quality, colors and even the layout of food.
Cooking might not be simple as it may seem. With technologies providing ease to life, cooking, as a daily activity drives people to look out for better eating experience. Below are the two design opportunities that I came up with based on user research.
To accommodate people's busy schedule in modern life, the app focuses on providing recipes that can be completed within a reasonable time.
The app provides daily recommendations of recipe that save people's time and suit their preference including taste, value, purity, and level of difficulty.
The target group was defined by some significant features. In general, they are those users who consider eating as an important part of their daily lifestyle. Instead of just simply eating food, these people want to add more values in food-making.
I created the below sketches and iterated 2 to 3 times to visualize and refine my design ideas.
During the oboarding stage, users will answer a series of questions to cater their cooking experience. This allows One Hour to provide more accurate recipe recommendations based on user needs.
One Hour provides a selection of recommendations (5 recipes per day) based on user preferences collected during the initial setup. If users would like to explore more recipes, they simply click on Discover to view more options.
One Hour focuses on users' emotions and needs. By segmenting recipes by specific needs such as time constraints, personal habits and special life events, users can find their suitable recipes more quickly and save time for disorganized browsing.
This was my first individual design project and it was also a project that speaks to my aspiration of design —— to pay attention to little things in everyday life, observe them, analyze them, experience them, and finally use design to create a delightful life experience for people. I chose food as my topic because they are so common yet have deep relationship with people. After this project, I realized that I wanted to build trust between products and people. It is not easy as tool does not possess emotions, but I believe that with more and more personalized and intuitive designs are created, we can facilitate a better communication that helps people achieve their goals.