For my student capstone project, I made Time Crunch, a recipe app that allows users to find and plan recipes that are both healthy and hassle-free. As the sole member, I led UX research, design, and usability testing for this project.
Throughout this project, I applied the fundamental principles of research/empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test within the framework of the Design Thinking Process. Following the usability testing, I integrated the feedback collected from test participants to enhance my app further.
Health experts agree that we should be eating less processed and fast foods. However, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, it is estimated that more than half the calories in the average American diet comes from these unhealthy foods. Through secondary research, I found that common factors that contribute to poor diets include:
My objective was to develop an application that is user-friendly and intuitive, while also providing an extensive database of healthy and quick recipes.
I wanted to understand the main issues with why people have difficulty cooking meals. After receiving over 20 pieces of valuable feedback from surveys, I was able to summarize my main findings:
I was then able to identify two unique types of users: those that were too busy to cook, and those that were health conscious. I further distilled the research findings into empathy maps.
My personas focus on the two types of users that my app will be targeting.
I created user stories to help me prioritize user needs. User stories allowed me to better define the necessary features and elements that needed to be implemented for a smoother experience.
After identifying user needs and pain points, I began to generate ideas and establish concepts using pen and paper to explore possible solutions toward our user's problems. Some ideas I explored include a planner, calorie tracker, healthy alternatives finder, and a product review system.
I then created user flows in order to visualize tasks that users would take to accomplish specific goals. Users had three user flows:
I began creating low fidelity wireframes based off of my sketches and user flows using Figma. Doing so helped clarify how I wanted functions spaced out on screen and identify key features. In this stage, I kept user needs, information architecture, and content hierarchy in mind.
I created a mood board to explore visual directions, develop a more robust brand platform, and establish an identity. In my selection of images, I sought to convey Time Crunch’s core attributes of confidence, health, and reassurance. The color palette and UI inspiration was curated to elicit a sense of cleanliness, simplicity, and ease of use. I especially wanted to use the color orange to evoke a sense of hunger in users.
To make sure that everything ties in together, I created a style guide. Using the mood board as inspiration, I wanted to focus on colors, iconography, and fonts that highlighted Time Crunch’s attributes while also creating a standardized format for consistency. It was also crucial to keep accessibility in mind, so I picked font sizes that were readable and checked for contrast ratio.
I decided to remove some background graphics on the recipe screen to improve readability. I also realized that users might want to remove multiple favorite items at a time, so I added a button for users to edit their recipe list.
I recruited five participants to test a prototype of Time Crunch through moderated usability tests. Based on the results, I found 3 main issues.
I made improvements in a redesign of Time Crunch based on the feedback gathered from usability testing. Some changes I made include:
Although I was at the end of my project deadline, I would have liked to conduct another usability test to see if the design changes led to any improvements. Check out my prototype below!
Through research and gathering user feedback, I realized that features that are clear to designers may not be obvious for users, thus it is important to always be flexible because design is an iterative process. I’ve learned that keeping a user centric mindset is absolutely vital in design—it is important for users to feel confident in their decision making. With this in mind, it was essential for me to make data-driven design decisions.
In the future, I would like to improve on my visual design skills, as well as learning more best practices. Looking back, there are some things that could be designed a little better, such as adding input field labels for additional clarity and adding more padding between elements to reduce clutter. I'm excited to continue growing as a designer and putting my learnings into practice!