After observing grocery-shopping behavior in stores and talking to shoppers, we discovered that taste and price were the main factors in selecting what food to purchase. This was surprising as we originally assumed branding and repeat purchases to be a larger influence. With this information, our design was beginning to take shape. However, we had yet to learn how to evaluate the healthiness of food. Fitness tracking apps like “My Fitness Pal” and “Fitbit” direct users to count calories. Determining the amount of food the user would consume after shopping was difficult so we explored alternative nutritional metrics. To guide our research, we met with a local nutritionist who suggested we focus on sodium, saturated fat and fiber.
We focused our design as a response to the 2014 Chi Student Design Competition to “transform… incoming bodydata into self-knowledge.” The bodydata that we decided to leverage was the grocery shopping choices made by low-socioeconomic individuals and families. Everyone on our team had a shared interest in technologies that are not exclusive to those who are economically well off, prompting us to explore the public space of grocery stores. After discovering that low-socioeconomic individuals struggle more with obesity than other groups; the question became clear: how can we help shoppers make healthier choices while shopping?
Coming to a Consensus
Optimizing the Solution
Communicating the Direction
Many rounds of sketching and user feedback led us to our final design. Running scenarios with users helped us make detailed adjustments like making alternative food selection more obvious and displaying food nutrition with a grade. Although these changes did not deviate from our core of helping low-socioeconomic individuals shop for healthier groceries, they did make it much easier for users to accomplish their goals. This experience taught me that granular improvement can have a major positive impact for the user.
Early in the design process, we created the persona of “Anna” to help frame the problem. This persona also helped us remain focused on the needs of the users, and not let our personal biases influence the design. When it came to presenting the concept of Better Bites, we leveraged the persona of Anna to tell the story of someone using the device for the first time. Instead of a dry walkthrough of the device’s features, audiences were engaged watching the device learn Anna’s shopping trends and displaying healthier alternatives based on cost, taste, and personal preferences.
Winner of Best Paper at WISH 2014 - Workshop on Interactive Systems in Healthcare