Cooking Mate App
An mobile app for people willing to interact with others through cooking. The app allows gathering through cooking based on available cooking location and time to increase opportunity for people to connect with others.
Many people dismiss food-oriented social event because of planning and preparation process.
I have designed an end-to-end digital experience that creates a healthy community building by sharing and connecting through cooking. In the generation of most interaction happening through digitized space, creating a platform where people can comfortably join the different demographic group is an exciting idea. Although majority of interaction happens in digital world, ironically providing feeling of “belonging” through human interaction is key to all kinds of social platform. I used research methods to understand people’s hesitance for a shared experience and generated app design that makes the gathering experience more efficient.
Skills: User Research, UX, Visual
Design, Prototyping, User Testing
UX Research Methods and Insights
Part 1: Understanding the Problem Scope
With no specific direction yet, I scheduled for observation to visit few potluck events and take notes from people’s gathering experience through food. Below are the summary of questions that came up from the observation I made in food involved gathering events.
How does food help to engage communication between people? What is the true value behind sharing a meal?
What is the experience like for people who cooked compared with people who did not cook?
What hinders people from preparing for such events?
How do people prepare for the food?
What is the process of organizing such events?
Part 2: Understanding User Process and Needs
Surveyed people who are interested in food involved gathering, ranging from college students to adults. This process helped me to fully understand why they hesitated to participate in shared gathering experience.
"I want to learn how to cook and share with others, but it’s hard for beginners to make sure the food taste good when cooked in larger portion”
— Single male, office worker
“I usually cook at home and bring food to the gathering event, but it takes lots of effort to prepare for the food.”
— Single female, RISD student
“It is frustrating when I spill food in my car on the way to the event. So, I tend to only bring simple finger food instead of the food I wish to bring.”
— Married female, office worker
“I’m confident in cooking but, often burdensome grocery shopping pushes me to simply pick up food instead of cooking.”
— Single female, CMU student
“For me, cooking isn’t the area wish to explore. But I like participating in such events, so I usually bring in drinks or help people to set up for the meal.”
— Single male, NYU student
Part 3: Key Findings
From the survey and interviews, I gained many understandings about user difficulties, habits, decision making directions, motivations, and preferences. Based on the insights, I could divided participants who are willing to participate in food involved gathering event into two categories.
Demographics willing to participate
First participants (Type A)
Consistent interest in cooking, but struggles during preparation process.
Second participants (Type B)
Less or no experience in cooking, but would like to participate in such events.
Understanding participant groups
Created empathy Map for both type participants for deeper understanding their experience as a whole.
For further understanding, I created two types of empathy map based on the findings from survey and interview process to visualize user attitudes and behaviors. Also, throughout the research process, I found out demographic whom are interested in connecting with others through food was craving for a platform to easily participate in food involved gathering events.
Participants’ major struggles
User Journey (Potential Entry points)
Following empathy mapping, and identifying problem space, I wanted to analyze potential entry points. The main struggle for me was understanding difficulties users experience while preparing for such events. The research displays that planning process from scheduling for the event to safely shifting food to the destination was burdensome for majority of participants which caused them to become dormant participating rate.
Define Problem & Goal (Why Mobile App)
Problem: People hesitate to organize food involved gathering event due to limitation on their time, experience, and location
Goal: Aimed to create platform for people's efficiency when planning food involved gathering event while conceptualizing AR experience to provide equal opportunity for anyone to join the platform.
Stakeholder Map (Mobile App Opportunity)
From completing the user journey map, I found out that mobile app can resolve many of the inconvenience current users struggle and it is also suitable for potential entry points displayed in the user journey map. Thus I used stakeholder map to draw out the focus on the mobile app platform value and relations of other system such as grocery store and venue provider surrounding the app platform.
Feature1: Easier scheduling and planning
The first concept was based on realizing that people’s need for finding event based on their availability such as time, location, type of food.
Feature 2: Guaranteed food preparation process and rating the quality of venue, delivered ingredients, recipes
Automatic ingredient delivery service to the location and AR cooking instruction will guide users to comfortably reach their expected level of food quality. And not worry about failing recipes which connecting with others. Through rating system of various components that build the gathering experience, other users will be able to view rating of venue, grocery delivery service, and recipe.
Through rating system of various components that build the gathering experience, other users will be able to view ratings of venue, grocery delivery service, and recipe.
Wireframe Sketch (A/B testing)
As a designer creating digital platform, I wanted to see how users take action on the wireframe and the conversion rate of how long it takes to join a group and finish selection process.
User Interaction Flow
Color Scheme (User Testing)
Design solutions for participants’ major struggles : Time Efficiency / Cooking Experience / Preparation list
Final Interface Design
Usability Testing & feedback
Add more content options to the profile section so users can connect with each other and also share their dietary restrictions.
A motion which maybe helpful to simulate cooking instruction.
Rating system can include information about how and where my feedback will contribute in the system.
Reflection & Moving forward
If I were to do differently, try to quickly generate wireframe sketch instead of paying too much attention on the details since UI design changes throughout the process. Also I would like to assemble participants in real life to conduct trial event to see if there are further necessary consideration that I have missed. Below are the summary of questions that came up during the feedback.
How do I expand the accessibility for people with dietary restrictions?
Is it possible to make cooking flow more efficient? How about time-based work distribution?
What about adding a profile feature which enables people to know more information when choosing group or menu?