CLIENT Design Thinking & UX Strategy class (Project Group, 10 weeks)
TOOLS Sketch | Illustrator | Photoshop
ROLE User research | Evaluation | Ideation | Market research | Prototyping | Visual Design
People want/need to count calories, and usually, they add negative thoughts to the process, especially when they measure the sizes, but even though they keep doing it because their main purpose is to lose weight, be healthy, and feel good about themselves.
Understanding the WHAT
People haven't been counting calories forever. The idea became popular around the turn of the 20th century. At that time, scientist Wilbur Atwater noticed that if you put food in a machine, called a "bomb calorimeter," and burned it; you could measure the ash and heat to find out how much "energy" was released and therefore how much "energy" was in the food.
The idea caught on, and people began counting calories; that is, calculating exactly how many calories were consumed when eating particular foods, and "burned" when engaging in different activities.

Understanding the WHY
People tend to miscount what they eat. Big meals and large portions tend to undermine their calorie-counting efforts. And being overweight makes it even more likely that they'll underestimate the calories in our meal, a definitive disadvantage when it comes to losing weight.
Americans are consuming far more calories each day than is recommended (daily intake should be around 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men).

Understanding the HOW
Most of them check the food labeling (table of content). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for assuring that food sold in the United States are safe, wholesome, and properly labeled. This applies to foods produced domestically, as well as foods from foreign countries.​​​​​​​
How people count calories? Following a mathematical formula of body weight equals calories in - calories out.
Understanding the WHO
There's not a specific group of people who track calories. They are men and women, from different ages, no matter their ability to cook, who want to lose weight, be healthy, and feel good with themselves.

When searching the market, different platforms were found, like websites, which are food databases, where users can browse the food categories/brand/restaurants, and find the calorie chart and/or nutritional information (calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and sugar). Apps where users can track their physical activities, their weight, their calorie intake, and more. Variety of books related to calorie counting with different approaches. And calorie sheets on the internet, a fast, and easy way to find the calorie number of a specific element.


ORIGINAL BUG "Hard to Track Calories"
People need to count calories, and usually, they add negative thoughts to the process, especially when they measure the sizes, but even though they keep doing it because their main purpose is to lose weight, be healthy, and feel good about themselves.
Generative User Interviews
15 in-person user interviews were made to understand why and who are the people who want to track their calories, how they do it, and what is their main problems. These interviews were made in an online-onsite mode under an observation/interpretation process.
· When commenting about track calories, they said it was a hard, stressful, boring, tedious, and repetitive process.
· They struggle to track calories for meals when they cook at home because of complex recipes, ingredients, and portions.
· Their main purpose was to feel healthy.
· Most of the participants wanted to maintain/lose weight.
WHO count calories and WHY they struggle?
Affinity Mapping
After the interviews, an affinity mapping was done, where we could detect that people need to count calories. Usually, they add negative thoughts to the process, especially when they measure the sizes, and the time consuming of doing that. But even though they keep doing it because their main purpose is to lose weight, be healthy, and feel good about themselves.
We organized them in categories and subcategories to understand better their:
· Behaviors (how often)
· Thoughts (don't like counting calories / would like a simple way)
· Easy process
· Hard process (negative feelings / complex and portions)
· How they track (look the products / have a registration / use a platform / calculate the products individually) 
· How they prepare food (how many meals a day / cook by themselves / eat certain amount / what to eat / cooking experience / don't have time on weekdays)
· For whom (they track calories and cook for themselves and more people) 
· What they track
· Why they track (they are under a diet / to lose weight / be healthy / to stop over-eating)
· Who instructs them
· Exercises (sustainable / regular / heavy workouts)
How Might We Questions
After detecting patterns in our Affinity Mapping, more than 30 How Might We Questions were elaborated to find a better way to address this need. 5 HMW were chosen to focus on removing the tedious experience counting calories, making them feel special, and adaptive for their different uses.
· HMW help them tracking calories for different purposes and users?
· HMW find a better way to measure portions to make them track calories more often and use the product?
· HMW help the users to simplify the process and make them feel it is easy and customized?
· HMW make tracking certain nutrition facts and portions easy for them?
· HMW create an effective way to let users track calories for home-cooked complex recipes?
After some conversations, we decided to stay with just one HMW to focus more accurately on the solution. So, we choose: HMW help the users to simplify the process and make them feel it is easy and customized?
80+ Brainstorm Ideas 
A brainstorm with more than 80 possible solutions were categorized as impossible, inspirational, and implementable. From there, we selected 5 of each one, and then, we choose the winners in each category: the Ideas that were going to be prototyped.​​​​​​​

Low-Fidelity Prototypes
4 low-fidelity prototypes were made based on our brainstorming ideas with different approaches. 2 for impossible (VR glasses and the smart chip), 1 inspirational (weekly grocery service), and 1 implementable (interactive voice assistant). From there, they were analyzed how each one could fail and what to build or to test them.
Low-Fidelity Prototype Concept Testing
We tested each prototype in a mode of no more than 120 seconds per interaction, getting their first impression.
For the "Weekly Grocery Delivery Service", people looked very interested and were asking about the elements from inside. Some of them were environmentally friendly, and they were worried about the packaging, but they said it was a time-saving, they like they didn't have to go and buy the groceries.
With the "VR Glasses", They weren't sure if it was going to count the calories of each element that could detect and how it would pick out the ingredients that they would use.
The "Smart Chip" had questions like what about privacy? Do I have to use it 24/7? Can I turn it off? They weren't convinced about it.
And lastly, the implementable prototype, "Interactive Voice Assistant", had good reception, they were very interested in how it would work, and if they would need just an app or an external device.​​​​​​​
Primary Prototype
Interactive Voice Assistant was the prototype elected to continue the project. Was thought of as a device in the kitchen with a voice assistant to help users track and calculate calories while cooking. This aims to create a tool that provides confidence and time saving, where they can track their calories, be healthy, feel good with themselves and use the time gained to spend more time with their people. This prototype was designed with 3 main tasks: 
· Choose a recipe from the list of recipes to suit your calorie intake and diet preferences.
· Start cooking the recipe you chose with the help of a voice assistant.
· Document the calories while making pasta at home.

Usability Testing
When testing the final prototype, we got very important insights (shown in the images based in each scenario), but also they showed general comments like:
· Users preferred to use an app instead of buying a device to use the app.
· They would prefer to record their own recipes to refer it in the future along with the calories.
· Users were interested in saving their own recipes and "bookmark" the suggested recipes.
· Also, they wanted to create multiple profiles for their families.
On the basis of usability test insights and key learnings we decided to go ahead and focus on the app instead of building a physical device.
What about the Business Model?
We drafted a Business Model​​​​​​​ Canvas to set up the goals for the App.
· What you think your users need vs. what they want/need. Users said they don’t need a device if there is an app with a voice assistant. Also, they would want multiple profile creation feature for their family members.
· Learning and participating in a Design Thinking process helped us to understand the user pain points and creatively solve the problem.
· Learn from the failures. Analyzing what can fail in the product idea helped test those scenarios with users and learn from it in the early stage.

What would we do if we had more time?
· Evaluate what users say vs. what they do?
Conduct contextual inquiry to understand more about user behavior and pain points in their day to day life cooking process.
· Improve the voice assistant feature.
Conduct usability testing for the prototype with more users to get insights and iterate to improve voice assistant.

Back to Top