Teamland

Designing a gift-giving page for teambuilding website

My Role

User Research

Prototyping

User testing

Branding

UI Design

Project Type

Project Type

Project Type

Independent

Tools

Figma

Photoshop

Timeline

8 weeks

Overview

Context

Globally, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year while 828 million people face food insecurity. Kai’s mission is to take action against the environmental, economical, and societal impacts of food waste in by creating an end-to-end app that enables food donations, making it simpler for people to donate surplus food and for those in need to access it. The task at hand is to design a seamless experience that helps users get their surplus in the hands of the food insecure.

my role

I was responsible for conducting research and designing the UX, UI, and branding. I primarily worked with my mentor, Aditi Gore, and actively sought feedback from fellow students in weekly design critiques to conceptualize ideas, gain alignment, and drive decision making.

The outcome

An app that is designed for speed and efficienty to connect businesses with surplus food to nonprofit organizations who need it.

Kickoff

The reasons for food waste varies from location to location and there were many ways to take this product. Before conducting research, I held a quick brainstorming session to establish the general scope of the product and lay a solid foundation for the app's direction. This helped set expectations for the work ahead and ensure that efforts were focused on the most important areas.


Some foundational questions were:

  • Who should be the main users?

  • Which location will our users be in?

  • What features will be necessary in the product?

  • How can we create a product that’s accessible for most people?

During this brainstorming session, I organized the possibilities using affinity mapping, which helped me determine the direction to take for the product. Ultimately, I decided to focus on addressing the food waste problem in my hometown in New York.

Possible users

Possible users

Individuals

Individuals

Restaurants and grocery stores

Restaurants and grocery stores

Farmers

Farmers

Location

Location

New York State

New York State

Country-wide

Country-wide

Global

Global

Issues

Issues

Not everyone will have it

Not everyone will have it

Not everyone will want it initially

Not everyone will want it initially

Not everyone is willing to use it

Not everyone is willing to use it

Needs

Needs

Provides value to the user

Provides value to the user

Easily learnable

Easily learnable

Quick & hassle-free interaction

Quick & hassle-free interaction

Designed for repeat use

Designed for repeat use

Accessible

Accessible

Market

Market

Peer-to-peer

Peer-to-peer

B2C

B2C

B2B

B2B

C2B

C2B

Possible users

Individuals

Restaurants and grocery stores

Farmers

Location

New York State

Country-wide

Global

Issues

Not everyone will have it

Not everyone will want it initially

Not everyone is willing to use it

Needs

Provides value to the user

Easily learnable

Quick & hassle-free interaction

Designed for repeat use

Accessible

Market

Peer-to-peer

B2C

B2B

C2B

Preliminary Research

Starting off with some preliminary research on the food waste in New York, I found that:

18%

of the country’s food waste

is from New York

68%

of New York’s discarded food is still edible

46%

of New York’s food waste is from businesses

Businesses are some of the largest contributors to food waste. In New York, they discard around 170,000 tons of edible food each year while 1.5 million people experience food insecurity. For this reason, I decided to focus my efforts on targeting these businesses, which would make the biggest impact on waste reduction.

Secondary Research

I drew from research articles and found a survey from the FWRA which revealed the main obstacles to food donation in the restaurant industry. To maximize my limited time, I honed in on the major pain points for our MVP and prioritized the top barriers:

Finding #1:

Transporting food is a complex process

When exploring the topic of transporting donated foods, I realized that it is not as simple as just moving the food from one location to another. It can be a complex process with many nuances to consider, such as keeping donations in food-safe temperatures, costs of fuel and labor, and ensuring that the necessary transportation infrastructure is available. I came to understand that transportation was a crucial aspect of food donation that needed to be addressed in our app.

Finding #2:

Businesses fear the risk of getting sued

In today's litigious society, it is understandable that businesses are concerned about liability. During my research on food donation laws, I discovered that there are government incentives for businesses to donate food, including liability protection and enhanced tax deductions. To qualify for these incentives, donations must be made to qualified 501(c)(3) organizations.

Helen

Administrative Assistant

Helen’s responsible for providing support and ensuring the efficient operation of her organization. When looking for gifts, she wants to ensure that the gifting process is successful.

Goals:
- Make purchasing decisions within a set budget.
- Report and provide logistics to management.
- Make sure that the gifts are delivered on time to the right recipients.

Needs:
- Clear turnaround times.
- System to keep track of the gifting process.
- Clear budgets to work with.

Helen

Administrative Assistant

Helen’s responsible for providing support and ensuring the efficient operation of her organization. When looking for gifts, she wants to ensure that the gifting process is successful.

Goals:
- Make purchasing decisions within a set budget.
- Report and provide logistics to management.
- Make sure that the gifts are delivered on time to the right recipients.

Needs:
- Clear turnaround times.
- System to keep track of the gifting process.
- Clear budgets to work with.

Helen

Administrative Assistant

Helen’s responsible for providing support and ensuring the efficient operation of her organization. When looking for gifts, she wants to ensure that the gifting process is successful.

Goals:
- Make purchasing decisions within a set budget.
- Report and provide logistics to management.
- Make sure that the gifts are delivered on time to the right recipients.

Needs:
- Clear turnaround times.
- System to keep track of the gifting process.
- Clear budgets to work with.

Key design insights

Offer scheduled transportation

Giving users the option to schedule a specific pickup time allows them time to plan ahead and coordinate their donations according to their availability. This convenience takes the pressure off their storage facilities, reduces transportation barriers, and makes donating more accessible to everyone.

Support businesses to get qualified for liability protection

Allow businesses the option to connect with qualified nonprofits so they are empowered to donate food confidently without worrying about potential liabilities.

Competitive analysis

I analyzed 6 apps/services surrounding the food waste diversion space to see how competitors address our user’s needs and the nuances of donating food. However, as I delved deeper, I realized that most of these services required a thorough screening process to verify the legitimacy of the business.


This was a significant challenge for me, as I didn’t have a business and needed to gain access of these apps to get a better understanding of their functionality. To overcome this, I reached out to a friend who owned a restaurant and asked if I could use their business to sign up for these services. The application process was lengthy and time-consuming, and on top of that, there was a 24-72 hour waiting period to be approved.


Regarding the actual donation flow, I found that most of these services consisted of 4 stages:

Input food info

Manual entry of food donation details

Input pickup time

Provide a time window to arrange pickup

Post donation

Review the details and post the listing

Wait for acceptance

Wait for a recipient to take surplus

User Interviews

My user interviews took form of 6 in-depth conversations with food retail workers who had some degree of authority over the management of their businesses’ food waste (participants included restaurant owners, managers, chefs, and a farmer.)


Prior to the interviews, I made an assumption that participants may understate the amount of food they discard to present themselves in a more positive light. To mitigate the impact of social desirability bias, I tried to keep my questions as neutral and non-threatening as possible.


Some foundational questions were:

  • How do you typically deal with your surplus?

  • How has this solution worked for you?

  • Is there anything about this that can be improved for you?

  • Has your organization donated food in the past? If not, what are your barriers to donation?

  • What about the donation process could have gone better for you?

Finding #1:

Workers value speed and efficiency

In most scenarios, the restaurant atmosphere is chaotic. Restaurant staff are handling numerous tasks simultaneously and are seeking out efficient and rapid solutions.

“Sometimes with all the stuff going around, what we do with our leftovers is the last thing I care to think about so I leave it to the staff to take home or we toss it out.”


— Restaurant manager

Finding #2:

People don’t know where to donate their surplus

Lack of discoverability and regulatory constraints create confusion among individuals as to where they can donate their surplus.

“I’ve tried to donate in the past but they turned us away because they didn’t want bagels.”


— Bagel store owner

Finding #3:

People need rewards to warrant a change in their habits

Participants resort to food recovery habits that are reward-driven. Generally, the motivation behind their waste reduction efforts is to reduce costs or increase profits.

“At end-of-day, if we have extra pastries, we give it to anyone who comes in because more often than not they turn into returning customers.”


— Café owner

Key design insights

Minimize the user’s cognitive load

In many situations, the environment can be chaotic and disruptive, making it difficult to focus and think clearly. Focusing on simplicity and streamlining the flow will help reduce dropoff rates.

Connect surplus with the right recipients

By harnessing the power of technology and using algorithmic matchmaking, we can improve discoverability and ensure surplus food finds its way to those who need it. This approach relieves users of the responsibility to actively search for recipients and streamlines the donation process.

Make donating rewarding

Businesses should find value in donating and see it as a mutually beneficial exchange. Create a rewarding experience and support their goals to increase their bottom line.

Define

After gaining insights from my research, I defined four key pillars that would guide my design approach:

Accessibility

Ensure the app is user-friendly and accessible to all, including those facing transportation barriers.

Speed

Time is a valuable commodity for businesses. The app should reduce waiting times as much as possible.

Efficiency

Donors should be empowered to make quick donations with as little distractions as possible.

Rewarding

Incorporate incentives to encourage donation over other diversion habits.

Design

During this stage, I started with a series of sketches before building out user flows with lo-fi wireframes. The donation input flow proved to be the most challenging as I realized it would require the most effort from our user. I made sure to learn from the mistakes I had observed in competitor products to avoid repeating them.

How could I make the item input process as fast and simple as possible?

"Add item" button

This button allows users to easily input multiple food items for the same pickup time without the need to re-enter pickup details repeatedly, saving them time and effort.

Autofill & suggested inputs

By utilizing machine learning algorithms, the system fetches product details from its food catalog and fills in specific fields in the listing automatically. This includes the product title, category, and allergens. This handy feature saves users time and effort since they don't need to manually input this information.

Search

The search function cuts down the time needed to find specific information. It allows users to retrieve information and actively locate what they're looking for.

Usability testing

Now that I had interactive prototypes, it was time to test them on potential users which is crucial in making sure that the design is usable. I tested with 5 participants who had experience in the food retail space. I asked each participant to complete 4 tasks as I observed.


The four major flows were:

Onboarding

Register your business.

Donation entry

List items and pickup details.

Barcode scanner

List item through scanner.

Track donation

Track donation and get receipt.

Iterations

Original design

Original design

Original design

Iteration

Iteration

Iteration

Group related fields together

Users expressed confusion and hesitation for "servings/serving size", and "code type/code date" inputs. Those inputs present as separate entries without any indication of their correlation.


In my redesign, I incorporated progressive disclosure to reveal secondary entries in a progressive manner for a more logical flow, ensuring that users understood the direct connection between the inputs.

Style Guide

Final Prototype

Onboarding

For the onboarding flow, my aim was to keep a balance of a hassle-free registration without compromising the essential checks needed to maintain the integrity of the platform.

Manual Donation Entry

The manual donation required a balance between gathering necessary information and keeping the form concise and user-friendly. Because of this, I made an effort to avoid an overwhelming number of form fields and intentionally kept it brief and logically organized to save people time.

Barcode Entry

The barcode feature allows users to streamline the listing process, ensuring accurate product identification. Donors can leverage this to increase listing accuracy while saving time and effort.

Track & Get Receipt

Users can stay connected with their donation, staying informed about its progress and impact. Additionally, they will receive receipts that serve as valuable records for tax deductions.

Reflection

This project has been a journey, filled with challenges, valuable insights and lessons that have shaped my approach as a UX designer. Here are some reflections from my experience that I look forward to applying in future projects:

What I learned

Focus on the MVP

Because food waste is such a large issue that occurs on all levels of the food supply chain, there was an opportunity for improvement everywhere. As I delved deeper into the food waste problem, I discovered so many insights I wanted to tackle, but needed to be strategic about which ones to focus on to keep a healthy deadline. So, with guidance from my mentor, I refocused on my target audience and prioritized features that would make the greatest impact.

If I had more time

Integrate surplus tracking for donors and recipients

During my research, I came across a significant challenge that numerous companies face: accurately measuring and tracking food waste. This presented a promising opportunity to help organizations reduce waste. While I would have liked to integrate a feature that automatically logs donations into a surplus, I decided to focus on the immediate needs of the users. However, the idea of giving users valuable insights into what food they are overspending on and where they can cut back is something to consider for future development.

Made with

in Brooklyn.

Copyright © 2023 Kimberly Wong.

Made with

in Brooklyn.

Copyright © 2023 Kimberly Wong.

Made with

in Brooklyn.

Copyright © 2023 Kimberly Wong.