PROBLEM

5 million Americans have a food allergy. Every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department– that is about 200,000 emergency department visits per year, and every 6 minutes the reaction is one of anaphylaxis. Many with allergies find it hard to dine out.

MY ROLE

This fictional project was mapped out over the span of 15 weeks. I served as the end to end UX Designer on this student project

INTRODUCTION

To alleviate the stress that comes from when allergy sufferers dine out. Eat with Ease found the need to design a software app that shows users where and which restaurants have a good allergy score. Users would be able to set up a profile of their own allergies and interact with a community of people that suffer from their same allergies. Through both community building and restaurants posting their menus on the site, allergy sufferers will be able to make better decisions on where to dine out. The application would offer expansive filters and personalization so that when prompted to dine out those with allergies are better able to make informed decisions and rid themself from the anxiety from biting into a meal and wondering if there was something they were allergic to. 

DISCOVER PHASE

Research

I conducted 8 virtual  interviews. Participants ranged from 22-39 years of age and 4 were male and 4 were female. Interviews asked a variety of questions and interviews took about 20-30 minutes to complete. Convenience sampling was used in this study in order to meet the requirements in the time frame. Participants were either working professionals with one participant being a college student. All participants lived in cities in the United States. You find more interview details here.

This quote above stood out to me the most because it was an exact description of the anxiety that came from dining out. After conducting the interviews I learned that there was a lot of decisions that took part in the end to end of picking somewhere to eat. Thus I created a journey map to really understand the complexities that can come with those that have allergies desire to dine out. Below you can see that the process does not end after the meal, rather it goes on a bit after as the anxiety continues if the person does in fact get an allergic reaction.

Customer Journey Map

Empathy Map: After mapping out the journey of the user I coded the interviews in these topics below. I was able to better understand the user fully. Previously, I was under the impression that users would more so want to locate a place to eat close to them that was affordable etc. However as shown below the major pain points for allergy suffers are around “feeling like a burden, stress, and fear of having a reaction. I then shifted my focus moving forward with the research.  

Empathy Map

Opportunities: Anxiety and nervousness around eating out was a big concern for a lot of participants. They cared about how much the restaurant cost, but also were interested in how much extra it would cost them to make alternative options to their meals. Most participants felt some sort of guilt or burden when eating out with friends. Many came to the conclusion that this is just something unique about them and their friends are supportive, they just feel that they wished they had an easier way to filter out good restaurants and dishes. The opportunities can best be identified in the user persona below.

DEFINE

I started this project thinking that users' main motivation would be to find a restaurant to eat at that was close and affordable. However, I found these to be true but users' motivations were truly fueled by their overall fear of getting a reaction. They needed an app to  show them the best options and to do so with confidence. This helped to reframe my initial designs where I was focused on maps and money signs. Next I had to grapple with how to obtain the user’s trust within the app itself… how?

DESIGN

Once it began time to design I started to sketch out some low fidelity wireframes. As shown below. I shifted my focus to highlight the storytelling via customer reviews. From these fidelity wireframes I did some testing and started to refine the wireframes further to make the medium wireframes.

Below you will find the medium wireframes. There were several iterations I made from the lo-fi wireframes.  Initially, I focused on the map search option, however through feedback and testing found, users were more concerned for which restaurants shared their allergy needs vs how far the restaurants were from the user.

Branding Process

Eat with Ease at its core is helping to change the lives of allergy sufferers. They are a brand that is focused in ensuring that those that struggle with food allergies have a better experiencing dining out. I wanted to convey a playful and bright brand, as this is related to food. The brand relies heavily on crowdsourcing so it must look inviting and playful. 

Brand Style Tile

USABILTY TESTING & ITERATION 

Usability testing was very helpful as I as the designer made some assumptions about the users that I found out to be untrue in testing. I was having a bit of a hard time tackling the flow as this app can have such a variety of user flows but chose to focus on a few essential tasks that were of utmost importance. I did two usability tests. One for the medium fidelity version of the app and then for the high fidelity. Both were helpful in my constant revision process. Of course, being a student project and if more time were allocated I would be able to address all flaws found in testing.

Tasks that the users were supposed to accomplish and a breakdown of the results can be found here.

Overall Considerations: 

Navigation bar is far too large and they are not equal in size. 

Add a bigger call to action to the filter buttons, although they appear in the middle they can be easily missed without the arrows. 

There are a few dead ends in the app, and it needs to have a back arrow in the top nav bar incorporated in many places. 

Refine the flow as it can be a bit more seamless. Continue to have the nav bar present in all aspects of the app. 

CONCLUSION

In serving as the lead designer on this project I found that I was able to excel at gaining empathy for the user through researching their pain points. This project was most interesting in Designing an end to end application in the time frame giving was a large task. If I had more time I would further expand the community sharing and crowdsourcing portion of this application.  I enjoyed the research phase of this project the most as I was able to understand the pain points of the user by doing a customer journey map. I was proud that I was able to develop an app that addressed a real pain point for many allergy sufferers. Find final prototype here.