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Process Book Thesis - Spring 2015


PROCESS BOOK Thesis Spring 2015 Shannon Claire Hickman

“While completely eliminating food waste may be impossible, reducing it isn’t. Improvements are needed at all steps of the food chain, but most importantly at the part that involves us.” -Jonathan Bloom, “American Wasteland”

TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction & Overview Resources Research Hypothesis Personas Initial Concepts Process User-Testing Wireframes Logo Process and Style Guide Final Deliverables Conclusion Works Cited

12 14 18 24 25 27 32 36 38 40 44 46 48


The following is the process book for Shannon Claire Hickman’s thesis project of Spring 2015, titled “WasteLess”. Shannon’s chosen major is Digital Design, with a focus on User-Experience/User-Interface Design. This is why she chose to make her thesis project an interactive experience, that challenges human behavior and addresses issues of sustainability; both of which are major concerns of hers.

OVERVIEW To say that a lot of food goes to waste in the United States is putting it lightly. In fact, an estimated 40% of the food produced is tossed right into the garbage, equating to about 20 pounds of food wasted per person every month. It’s not just food that’s being wasted, there’s money that’s being tossed as well, and the amount is shocking. According to Jonathan Bloom’s book “American Wasteland”, a combined $165 billion are spent on food that becomes trash, which costs the average 4-person household up to over $2,200 a year. From an economic perspective, these figures make sense when the process of growing, transporting, selling and buying come into the picture. There are greater repercussions when it comes to food waste than simply money. Some of the main problems are world hunger, climate change from carbon emissions, water waste, and ethical problems including animal exploitation and landfill usage.


These are all issues that most Americans are well aware of, yet they have difficulty in realizing how they are contributing to these problems daily. The purpose of this proposed solution is to make people aware of the repercussions of food waste and to recommend ways to make more responsible decisions in the future.

TIMELINE I created this Gantt Chart as a guideline to ensure that I am on task throughout this project. The categories have been listed below.

PLAN OF ACTION Research Research Paper Questionnaire Expert Interviews Design Audit User Research User-Shadowing Task Walkthrough User Screening Define Target Users Persona Hypothesis Design Concepts User Interviews User Verification Refined Concept

School Deadlines Gantt Chart Paper Pitch Reading Wireframes Presentation Build Assets Prototype Install Rehearsal Final Critique De-Install Graduation

Design Brain-Storming Sketches Wireframes 1st Prototype User-Testing Revisions Interface Concepts 2nd Prototype Final Prototype

Process Book Template Documentation Photography Body Copy Editing Printing



Books Jonathan Bloom’s “American Wasteland” was one of the major influences for this project. In this book, Bloom discusses the repercussions of food waste, where it is prevalent in our country, and recommendations on how we can help prevent it. In addition, Nathan Shedroff’s “Design is the Problem” discusses sustainable design and the “cradle to cradle” principle. This book is an important reminder that designers have a responsibility to create sustainable solutions that will have a lasting impact on users. “Microinteractions” by Dan Saffer is an incredibly helpful resource for UX/UI designers. This brought up many useful tips for user interactions and the details that make interfaces successful. “Microinteractions” also showcases examples of existing solutions that are either very userfriendly or those that could use improvements in that area. “About Face 3” by Alan Cooper is a tremendous help when it comes to the user research portion of any project. Cooper discusses the importance of observations, interviews, and user-testing as the project progresses. The main goal is always looking to the target user for the answers, because after all, that is who the solution is for. Subject Matter Expert Ryan Gaddis is an empathy-driven digital designer, educator, and multimedia storyteller. His work transcends multiple digital formats including user experience design, interaction design, information architecture, interactive prototyping, research, front-end web development, mobile design, video production, digital photography, and digital design education. Ryan currently works as a User Experience Designer in Denver, Colorado, creating marketready digital products, mission-critical web applications, & integrated mobile apps.

Other Resources Food Shift is an organization dedicated to educating people about food waste and how they can get involved to make a difference. They work with businesses, government, and communities to develop long-term solutions to combat the issues of food waste in America.

Sprouts Farmer’s Market is a market with locations in various places of the United States. Interviews with people such as one of the location’s store managers revealed details about what people are primarily buying and how frequently they are shopping. The data showed that the top items being sold are produce, since that is the main appeal of markets with natural products such as Sprouts.


RESEARCH Before beginning this project, I conducted research for different design opportunities. The idea for WasteLess was first inspired by a behavioral design course led by Sille Krukow. The course went over nudging by design, and how to create solutions that are targeting the direct behavior of the users. Before any solutions were in mind for the subject of food waste, I created a behavioral map summary of the typical user. In addition, I had conducted observations and general interviews with users in the grocery stores, within their homes, and/or over the phone.

This behavioral design course really inspired me and piqued my interest in user-experience and user-interface design. Analyzing actual human behavior and auditing exiting solutions made me realize that many previous works were not effective enough. I knew that my final solution for this project would need to be changing the target behavior, which is why I decided on narrowing down my target user group and the environments in which they would use my final solution.


OBSERVATIONS Initial observational studies were conducted among users to get a better understanding of where food waste was the most prevalent and why. These were first conducted at Sprouts Farmer’s Market, to comprehend how food waste often begins in the grocery stores themselves. Customers and employees including the store manager were asked general questions about their shopping habits. Doing this initial research, really helped in creating a behavior map. This step also allowed me to narrow down the target user group and to develop a screener for potential users.


VegieFresh, an “as seen on TV” product, is a natural mineral mix that absorbs ethylene gas to lengthen the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables. To use the product, the consumer writes the month and day on the card and then places the pouch into the crisper drawers of their refrigerator. Next is a patent-protected traffic-light style food freshness label in the UK known as Oil-Tec labels. The label uses a time and temperature indicator label to indicate the freshness of the food that the label is on. The color green indicates that the product is safe to consume, while amber is when the “best before” date passes, and red appears after the “use-by” date passes.


From Microsoft’s Productivity Future Vision of 2011, where the front of the fridge is transparent and includes a large screen that will display notifications and calculate freshness levels. The fridge also automatically creates a shopping list when people are running low on items. Another feature is providing recipes based on the ingredients in the fridge to help people maintain their diets. LG’s Smart Refrigerator uses a barcode scanner that tracks the contents. You can manually add food or scan it and set a reminder and expiration date.

USER RESEARCH 81% of the subjects interviewed said that the bulk of their food was stored in the refrigerator. Not surprisingly, the primary foods that were being thrown out each week were fruits and vegetables. 94% of the people were living in households with three or fewer people, and the primary shopper of the household was going to the grocery store once a week or more. Using this data helped to inform the design problem. According to Jonathan Bloom’s novel “American Wasteland” over half of the food wasted in the United States is happening in the households themselves. It is important to target this behavior and to make people more aware of not only the food they are wasting, but how they can improve upon it. The process brought up within the nudging solutions by design course helped tremendously with conducting research. The users were asked about the existing solutions and how they would use them in their own lives. The users liked the idea of the smart fridge, although they weren’t too keen on it being seethrough or having as many prompts on the large screen. Most users commented that they were already using some kind of shopping app, so they have familiarity with making and often sharing a list in a digital format. However, the users also stated that they would not want to scan every food into their phone. It would be a time-consuming process, some items do not have a barcode (such as bulk or fresh items), and ultimately they wondered what was in it for them. Keeping the reward or incentive behind this app in mind was a crucial component of the project. The reason many of the previous solutions are not widely known (and arguably unsuccessful overall) is because they either require additional products that may be difficult to acquire, or they are targeting the wrong behavior. These solutions revolve around food waste, but they may be actually encouraging waste because they enable for food to sit in the refrigerator even longer.

USER RESEARCH How Frequently Does Your Household Shop for Groceries? Less Than Once Per Week

Once Per Week

Twice Per Week

Three Times Per Week or More

Where Does Your Household do the Most Grocery Shopping?

Other: Farmer’s Market, Costco

Natural Foods Stores


Multi-Purpose Stores (Target, Walmart, etc)


Grocery Stores (King Soopers, Albertsons, etc)

Users from the focus group that I had screened and contacted to be part of the study, took some photos and passed them along. The users’ names shall be kept anonymous, however many of them had a few commonalities. For one, shopping at natural foods stores and picking up a substantial amount of groceries once or twice a week. The evidence in the fridge photo shows a lack of any organization, including products hidden in the back. It’s no wonder why this user complained that food was wasted quite often in their household, even though they live alone.

HYPOTHESIS I believe that the users in the target group require a greater awareness of the food they are buying currently to make smarter choices on their future shopping trip to the grocery store in order to prevent food waste.

DESIGN QUESTION How can an interactive app track user input and make recommendations to help reduce household food waste?

TARGET USER GROUP The following are the qualities of the targeted users: The primary grocery shopper of the household Living within households of 1-3 people Having a consciousness of what kind of food they’re buying (organic, health/nutrition benefits, local, etc) Primarily cooking in the home (little to no dining out) The non-user or anti-users have also been defined. This is important information to consider as the app is being tested and developed. The non-user group is defined by: People who dine out a lot. People who don’t shop for groceries on a regular basis Large families with approximately 4 or more people People who don’t buy produce regularly (or people purchasing processed items over produce)


PERSONAS Katie Stay at Home Mom Primary Grocery Shopper Goals: to prepare fun, healthy meals for herself and her family. To teach her child the value of good food while learning to respect the environment. Katie has a newborn baby and her husband will occasionally pick up items at the store. She buys very little packaged foods and has many allergies so she sticks to the basics: fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. ”I am good at freezing things and making sure to use up what we have. I can’t tell you the last time I threw something out because it went bad. Having [my child] eating leftovers too really helps!”

Matt Cashier at Whole Foods, Athlete Primary Grocery Shopper Goals: to buy tasty, in-season produce and other “lesshealthy” options including some packaged foods. To keep supporting his favorite brands while getting an employee discount. Matt lives with his mom and shops for her most of the time. Sometimes she will go to the store on a separate trip to get her own foods or they will shop together. “Wasting food makes me feel bummed not necessarily because of the waste of money, more because it’s good food that someone could have eaten...the money is a small factor but for me I feel more of the compassion angle”

Ann Retired Schoolteacher Primary Grocery Shopper Goals: to enjoy preparing and eating healthy meals for herself. Quality (fresh and in-season) is key. Ann lives alone so she is the only one bringing groceries into the house. She will return an item to the grocery store if it is not to her liking or tastes “off”. She will not consume anything that has reached its expiration date even if it looks “ok”. “I prefer fresh and in-season. I am cost conscious, but whatever is expensive, I will buy less and enjoy it more on my pocketbook. I spend more on food, I believe, but I enjoy it more also. It is a priority to me.”

PERSONA SUMMARY The personas all follow the guidelines to be placed within the target group. Each of them share these characteristics specifically: Concerned with the quality of food that they are buying, even if it is more expensive Have a loyalty to the types of stores that they are shopping at, particularly Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers or other similar stores Familiar with Smart technology including iPhones or Android phones and digital applications Households where at least one member has an indispensable income



Produce Ripening Stickers The grocery store will place these labels on produce when it is received. As the produce ripens, the stickers will changed based on the amount of ethylene gas released (which occurs as produce ripens). The color of the stickers will indicate where the food should be stored, grey for the counter and green for the refrigerator, which will be apparent in the next part of these solutions. The store receipt will indicate what the labels mean and how they work.

A black sticker will indicate that there is mold present on the specific item, with a “DON’T EAT” message. The green color signifies that the item belongs in the fridge, and any item with a black sticker should not be consumed for safety reasons. These labels will also help the stores and the user’s shopping experience so they won’t be buying rotten food and stores won’t be selling it.

INITIAL CONCEPTS A fridge-labeling system would greatly assist any household in reducing their amount of food waste. This fridge is color-coded, and includes labels of the corresponding items that belong on each shelf. This utilizes matching principles, where people will put the food in the area that it seems to belong. The colors are reminders that work to cue people in combination with the labels. The point of this storage system is to place the food in the best places of the fridge to maximize preservation. The green color matches the produce ripening stickers, as a further cue.

A low-tech receipt “reminder� system, for people who keep their receipts would allow people to visually understand what food they bought. By looking in one place, users can more easily analyze their groceries from the same trip. They are able to see the physical items, as well as the quantity, price and total cost. By placing a receipt from the store on the fridge, people not only can track the groceries they have in their fridge (by crossing them off), they are also given a monetary value that is assigned to their groceries. The grocery store (such as Sprouts) will give the customer their receipt along with a sticker, telling them to shop smarter by sticking the receipt on the fridge (or somewhere else it will be noticed in the kitchen).


This was a tested experiment that was conducted previously by a handful of bloggers online who were looking to save money, and its results were very compelling. Over $100 were saved per month ($1200 a year) by not overspending and then wasting the food that wasn’t consumed. The subjects from the study also claimed that it enabled them to make more responsible decisions at the next trip to the store. If the grocery stores start getting their customers to do this, it would encourage more people to waste a lot less food. This solution gives people a reason to shop, feeling like their store has their best interests (and the world’s) at heart. Stores such as Sprouts would benefit as well, because they would be able to collect the receipts after people are finished with them. This of course would need some sort of incentive for people to want to use the receipt system.








PROCESS VS PAIN POINTS The typical process of the users can be summarized within this circular model. As opposed to having a start and end point, the process is instead a cycle that constantly repeats itself. I have analyzed the processes as well as the pain points or obstacles that the users in my target group often encounter. My goal is to figure out how to alleviate these pain points so that the process can become more efficient over time. Using this model as a visual behavioral map was a catalyst to creating new, positive behaviors. Looking at the obstacles, as well as the contextual environment that each user experienced, set the stage for the final goals of the target group.

BARRIERS The barriers that users often experience in relation to preventing food waste are as follows:


The psychological barriers for users often involve a sort of survival mechanism, or instinct that forces them to buy more food than they really need. This stems from the fear of running out of food and the threat of hunger.


The social barriers for users often involve what the other people in the households are buying or asking users to buy. Other influences include advertisements or store sales that can affect user behavior.


Contextual barriers include elements within the user’s environment. Some of the most common were the size of the grocery store cart, the layout of the store, and the size of the user’s refrigerator and other places they are using to store food.



PLAN/PREPARE Look at Current Food Supply Budget Make a Shopping List Consult with Household


PURCHASE Choose Grocery Store



Bring List

Save Food (freeze, can, dry)

Buy Items

Donate Food -canned goods -packaged foods Throw Out Food -garbage disposal -compost -garbage bin


REFLECT Analyze Amount of Waste Make a New Shopping List Consider Modifying List Adjust Budget






PLAN/PREPARE Look at Current Food Supply

forget to look at inventory or miss certain items

Make a Shopping List

too time-consuming

Consult with Household

users adding too many items based on suggestions

PURCHASE Choose Grocery Store

forget list/don’t use list

Bring List

items from list not specific

Buy Items

impulse items

Look at What’s on Sale

a lot of bulk discounts and seasonal items are enticing


short on time, too stressed to cook settling for easy, convenient foods that don’t require a lot of effort wanting to have the food they want NOW. Taste is the #1 priority


not always aware or thinking about the food in the kitchen

REFLECT Analyze Amount of Waste and Try to Make Changes

who could the wasted food have gone to? Such as malnourished children or lower income families where could wasted money have gone? Bills, vacation money, etc.



Current Food Supply Fridge Lettuce (1) x Tempeh (1) x Cucumber (1) x Carrots (1) x

x x x Hemp Milk (1) x Orange Juice (1)

Celery (1) Cheese (1)


Low-fidelity wireframes were a key part of the process. At first, paper prototypes were used in front of the target users. These were literally “screens” drawn on pieces of graph paper. This step allowed me to have the users walk through their journey, while also instructing me on how they would expect to use an application like this. The rapid prototyping allowed me to focus on the goals of the user, rather than what features needed to be present. Several rounds of this kind of testing were part of the project, and starting with the low-fidelity design allowed me to step back from the final design. If I’ve learned anything from “Microinteractions”, it’s that the interface should be intuitive and the final design shouldn’t include anything that’s not completely necessary. In other words, nothing should feel like it’s a lot of work.


Higher-fidelity wireframes were also created and tested as part of the prototyping stage. Users responded well to the minimalist approach, and their comments helped to make decisions as to what elements were the most important for the app. For instance, making an account would be something that users could do at a later time if they wanted to add other users. However, some users would like to use the app to get acquainted with it before having to type in a lot of personal information. The final prototype will be a minimum viable product for many reasons. A lot of time and effort went into the research portion–including consulting with users, undergoing an audit of current solutions, and reading through helpful books and resources on user-experience design. The prototype will keep in mind the target user group, with features that are based on their needs and goals. Though there will be a proposed Smart Fridge component to this project, the app can still be used on the phone itself. This was an important concern to consider, since the users in the focus group did not own a Smart Fridge, however they said that the app could influence them to purchase one if it helped reduce their amount of food waste significantly.


UI TOOLKIT Status Symbols


+ The UI elements have a flat appearance, with minimal decorations. The color palette features the colors from the logo with some grey, black and white added throughout. Based on user feedback, this style fits the minimalist feeling of the app while making the appearance more simple and easy to understand. The important parts to consider within the app prototype is whether or not symbols or words are more effective. Based on books such as “Microinteractions�, it may be helpful to include words on the first round, and then simplify as the user becomes more acquainted with the app. User testing has been incredibly helpful with determining which buttons are necessary and which are not adding to the experience. Users commented that they would rather have a button that went straight to the screen, as opposed to a button that went back to the home screen and then to the next screen. Making the process more seamless for the user will improve their journey and the likelihood that they will use the app in the future.





Final Logo

STYLE GUIDE R 75 G 189 B 153

R 68 G 193 B 195

R 235 G 207 B 70

R 230 G 50 B 54

R 137 G 137 B 137

R 70 G 70 B 70

TYPOGRAPHY Nexa Bold Nexa Light


Cambria Math

Body copy


Subtitles & Lists Epra non ea voluptas net mo bea di re si to volorro que lias alit rehenda commossi reperesciist ventem nonsed enimus pa debis que re, to tempos volorro maximus qui tentinc tumquam iur rem rem. Nam, odiciisci rest fugitae nulparibus num int.



The final deliverables and project assets were showcased in Denver’s RedLine Gallery at the end of the 2015 Spring semester, as part of the CU Denver BFA Thesis Show. One of the most important of the final assets is a website that houses the prototypes, as well as photos and a description about the purpose of the project. The iMac monitor showcased the website so that viewers could follow the typical user path, while getting to view the prototyped screens on the devices that were on-screen. The gallery space also includes a vinyl logo to brand the space, this process book as well as a leave-behind in the form of my business cards and stickers. The stickers include a logo and website URL that viewers can take a look at after the leave the space, and after this installation is taken down.


Vinyl Logo

Process Book


iMac (27�)


Business Cards Shelf (4’ across)

To view the full deliverables including the final prototypes, visit


After testing my wireframes and prototypes, I have confidence that WasteLess has the potential to become a fully-developed application for mobile devices and Smart Fridge LCD Screens. My goals after completing this project are to pitch the piece to developers, stakeholders and smaller grocery stores that would be interested in implementing this type of app with their current customers. The app will encourage users to become more mindful of their food purchases, including how often they are shopping, since the app retains an inventory of the fridge at all times. Essentially the new process will go as follows:

Plan/Prepare Purchase

Consume or Waste



Users will create a shopping list with the app, based on what is currently in their fridge The user will purchase items at the store using the shopping list, while being able to see if an item is already in the fridge at home. They use the app at checkout to track what was actually bought Users will “cross off� items as they are consumed, or mark them as thrown into the trash A report will be generated as a summary of how much food was REFLECT wasted in a given time period. In addition, recommendations will be made for the next shopping list that the user creates based on previous food waste





Shopping List

2 3 2

Apples Bananas Oranges Cucumbers Cauliflower Beans Milk





Shopping List

View Fridge





Shopping List

View Fridge


WORKS CITED “About Vegie Fresh.” “America’s Food Waste Problem.” The Food Journal. June 10, 2013. lem.html Annie Lowrey. “’All My Trash Fits in a Single Mason Jar.” New York Magazine. December 23, 2014, fits-in-a-single-mason-jar.html Bloom, Jonathan. American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and what We Can Do about It). (Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 2010) Borges, Anna. “How to Waste as Little Produce as Possible.” Women’s Health, October 8, 2014, accessed January 28, 2015. Bouckley, Ben. “‘Revolutionary’ Food Freshness Label Will Transform Industry, Developer Claims.” September 22, 2011, accessed January 28, 2015. bel-will-transform-industry-developer-claims Finn, Steven M. “A Public-Private Initiative to Reduce Food Waste: A Framework for Local Communities.” Graduate Studies Journal of Organizational Dynamics: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 3 (2011). iss1/3 “Food Waste”. last modified January 9, 2014.” Griffiths, Sophia. “Food Waste Determined by Cultural Influences.” The Journal of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, January 9, 2014 (9:00am). Griffiths, Sophia. “What Are we Doing About Food Waste? UN Campaign.” The Journal of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, February 21, 2013 (3:40pm). news/28-3/2 Itzkobitch, Avi. “The Internet of Things and the Mythical Smart Fridge, UX Magazine. September 18, 2013. Shedroff, Nathan. Design Is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable, Rosenfeld Media, 2009



WasteLess Process Book  

Shannon Hickman's process book for the 2015 Spring BFA XXV Thesis

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