An App that Eliminates Food Waste
Worldwide 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste.
In Japan, 1/2 of all food waste comes from households.
Use Pantry to stop wasting food.
The idea for Pantry came to me as I was cleaning out my refrigerator. Before the pandemic, I was extremely organized. Everything had its place. However, as work-life balance disintegrated in late December 2020, food expiration dates started to be ignored as client deadlines and overtime increasingly took priority. “Just one more thing!” read work emails at the end of the day. I looked at the wilted spinach in my hands, ashamed of one more example of food waste. This could have been prevented.
I summarized the idea for Pantry in a five-minute pitch at Le Wagon Tokyo. Out of 22 pitches, it was voted in the top six. Two enthusiastic classmates joined my team to build a functional web app.
As part of the three-hour design sprint, I used Whimsical to visualize the structure of the app. In the beginning, Pantry seemed simple. The design evolved as I followed the Le Wagon design flow.
3. Primary Segment
As a basic starting point in the UX research, I defined the primary segment of users, inspired by my classmates.
In order to define the key audience of Pantry and to gain empathy from potential stakeholders in eliminating food waste, I created a persona based on the target user. With a 30-minute deadline, I interviewed classmates within the primary segment about their needs.
Even with diverse cooking styles, almost everyone had difficulty using milk and eggs before the expiration date. All classmates were ashamed about wasting food. Most classmates had difficulty communicating with their partner about food amid Zoom meetings and other teleworking factors.
5. Core User Journey
I created the core user journey while considering the emotions of the user. I aimed to eliminate frustration and maximize satisfaction as the user went grocery shopping while using the app.
Combining the UX research and the wire frame, I used Figma to create a visual prototype in one hour, as the final step in the design sprint. I focused on applying a high-contrast color palette for the text and buttons to increase accessibility. The navy buttons were hypothesized to indicate importance to the user.
The content in each menu was minimal to enable the user to view item names, quantity, and expiration at a glance. In consideration of reduced loading time, images were limited to the user avatar, the banner, and the meal plan. The colors for the expiration indicator were based on a traffic light to facilitate understanding.
I presented the prototype to an audience comprising 30 people at CIC Tokyo in a 10-minute demonstration.
Panty was enthusiastically embraced. Multiple audience members exclaimed, “Please make this! I really need it!”
While all audience members liked the high-contrast text, the banner image was widely disliked.
They overwhelmingly requested the addition of a new feature that suggested recipes based on an ingredient.
Excited by the positive reception, I wanted to learn more about how the target demographic shopped and cooked. When I first started designing Pantry, I theorized that meal planning was the biggest hurdle for users.
I conducted polls on social media to gain more information about food waste. Respondents were extremely passionate about this question. Many privately messaged me to share their struggles in detail, ashamed to admit to food waste publicly.
A striking pattern emerged. Respondents who identified as people who “enjoyed cooking” found meal planning to be annoying; instead, they cooked the same recipes repeatedly. Respondents who identified as “bad at cooking” did not care about meal planning; they wanted recipe suggestions based on an ingredient in their home.
9. Updated Design
Considering the information gained from polls and feedback, I redesigned the frontend and backend of Pantry to focus on the user’s food items, frequently used recipes, suggested recipes, and upcoming expiration dates. This solves the issue of wanting to eliminate food waste by either offering new recipes or favorite recipes directly to the user as needed.
Now, Pantry features a calming mint color palette with modern, rounded edges and a clean, minimalist interface. The green gently communicates healthy eating. The simple navigation reduces stress in a bid to increase user retention.
Pantry is currently in development. The design will be peer reviewed each Saturday. It will launch on March 12, 2021.
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