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Foodie is an app that makes finding free food on campus easy and convenient.

April 2019 (3 weeks),
May 2019 (1 week)
My Role
User Researcher
Product Designer
iOS App
Cindy Huang (Design)
Haiying Weng (iOS)
Yuxuan Chen (iOS)
Leo Liang (Backend)
Everyone loves free food, especially college students low on meal swipes. We love giving and receiving free food so much so that the students of Cornell University created a group chat in GroupMe with over 4K members and dozens of messages every day solely to share about free food offerings on campus.

People use this group chat for mainly four reasons:
The Problem
However, there are also problems with this method of communication.

Typical message content

Confusion about location and time

The chat is cluttered with irrelevant content (people leaving and joining)

Members cannot filter the notifications from a group chat, so most members that I spoke to have the group on mute and rarely check the messages. The chat also includes a lot of irrelevant activity, such as people joining and leaving the group. Ultimately, the group is an overload of information that makes it hard to digest.

From the conversations I had with students, I learned that people won't go out of the way or plan ahead to get free food, but it is a good way to save money or get some light fuel throughout the day.
People want free food that is convenient for them, and student organizations want to attract more people to their events by providing food. But, this is hard because:

It's hard to find offerings nearby or on the way.

The group chat is annoying and cumbersome to keep checking.
So, for the three-week CU AppDev Hack Challenge, my group set out to create a way to:
  1. Easily find and sort through all of the convenient free food events offered
  2. Better organize how information about free food is delivered so people can quickly scan for relevant information
  3. Update event info in real time
To replace the free food GroupMe, our app had to be organized and easy to understand. We brainstormed different features such as a map or a calendar, but ultimately decided to keep the interactions and screens simple with just a main feed.

Framework for our ideas

I read through many messages and food postings in the current group chat and evaluated what content delivered the most clear and information to people. Then, I also spoke with students about what information they care about when browsing these events. Once I had an idea of the content that is absolutely essential and extra content that could be optional, but still helpful, I laid out the quick-view for the main feed as well as a detailed view.

Information displayed for each event in a consistent, easily scannable format

I also created a UI kit to establish a clear hierarchy throughout the app.

UI Kit

Next, I decided how to organize the main feed. To simplify and streamline the app, I knew we wanted a main feed of upcoming event sorted by those happening soonest. Free food is usually a spontaneous decision, rather than a planned out meal. But, since users experience frustration when messages get lost or buried in the current group chat, we also wanted to allow users to save an event to easily find later.

Besides upcoming and saved events, another distinct type of event is those created by the user. A user might want to update or end the event to let people know food has run out. I explored various ways to separate and organize the user's own events so that they can view, edit, or update them.

"My Events" iterations

I originally proposed option A and split the feed into three tabs. But, the "By Me" tab would often be empty and useless for many users who do not post. It felt to heavy to have an entire tab dedicated to this.
Option D's bottom navigation is similar to A, except I changed the "Events By Me" page into a user profile with added features. In an ideal world, this would provide the most functionality with the option to set a user's notification preferences. However, due to our limited time for this hack challenge, I decided that C would allow for easy access to the events created by the user without an entirely separate page.


Main screens

Full flow of editing user's own events

We won something! 🎉
At the end of the semester, our team won Judge's Choice from the Cornell AppDev judges!

Our team and mentors: Kevin Chan (mentor), me, Yuxuan Chen, Haiying Weng, Leo Liang, and Conner Swenberg (mentor)

During the Hack Challenge, I treated this project as a 3-day design sprint to give the team most of the time to develop. This case study is a redesign I did out of interest. You can view our github and final submission here, based off of my earlier designs.

This project started as a silly and fun idea thrown out during our first brainstorming session, and turned into a very rewarding project. It was my first time ideating and designing an app from start to finish. Though we were not able to implement every feature desired (such as updating events and notifications), there were many lessons learned!
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