· Sustainability made it easier ·
Ecomarket is the first sustainable and affordable online market that works only with local brands, offering great discounts, no using plastic packaging at all, and showing your purchase’s environmental impact.
Last week I was asked to create a project connected to building a habit in our daily lives. I decided to get into the sustainability habit and create an app to become more eco-friendly, as it is one of our world’s urgent topics to deal with. Firstly, I would like to express how much love I did this following project with since it connects sustainability and learning. I consider both of those things a must in our lives and an essential for the world we live in — hoping that this sustainable world movement will preserve in all the years coming.
I have had just one week of the timeline to do this project, so I was a bit tight with the time. That is why all the design solutions you will find within this report are done in mid-fidelity.
I started the project by researching the actual people’s habits of purchasing food. I shared an 11-question survey with participants, and I received more than 110 exciting answers regarding its practices. That helped me to gather some more in-depth information about their lifestyle too. Here’s a highlight of some of the questions and the key points I extracted from the participants:
Where do you buy most of your groceries?
- Local supermarket
- Local store
- Health food store
Which are the main factors that influence where do you buy most of your groceries?
Which are the main factors that influence how you select food?
- Healthy product
- Ethically produced
Which, if any, of these statements matches how you think about buying locally produced food?
- Support local economy/ local businesses, especially after COVID-19 impact.
- Fresh food.
- It is worth paying a bit extra for the better.
- I like to know where my food comes from.
71,9% are strongly agreed it’s better for the environment to eat local.
More than 52% interested in an app to become more sustainable.
After gathering all those key points, I realised that the app should contain some essential characteristics to answer all these participants needs:
- The affordable price of the products.
- Alternatives on how to buy.
- Detailed of the product: the origin of the product.
- Impact of the choice’s purchase.
User: People ageing 20–65 years old are interested in sustainability and local food.
Market: young and middle age population in Spain.
A 2020 Reuters report analysing sustainable living in Europe gave me a great insight into global sustainability food tendencies:
“Cutting down on red meat and consuming more locally grown food. Buying less but spending more on sustainable products.
If these preferences from multiple surveys with tens of thousands of people across Europe are anything to go by, 2021 might be the year when consumer behaviour makes a significant shift towards eco-friendly living.”
“Global commodities giant Archer Daniels Midland Co, meanwhile, has identified “sustainability” as one of the top five global food trends for 2021.
Consumers want to make a positive impact on the environment and many now know more about the links between food systems and labour issues, contamination, water quality and deforestation, the company said in a report based on its own research.”
Our Potential User
To understand a bit more our user, here we have a description of Jana, our persona (aka potential user) who would use our app to fight with her frustrations about being not sustainable.
“When I do my groceries, I want to find affordable, sustainable options to start supporting small businesses and local producers; therefore, being more sustainable and respectful with the world.”
Let’s see a bit more details about her:
POTENTIAL USERS INTERVIEWS
To proceed with our user interviews, I selected 8 people that used to buy most of their meals instead of going to restaurants, who are concerned about the price and the location of the product and place to buy their groceries and are interested in sustainability. I chose this category of people to understand the pain points and their day to day challenges in a better way.
Key quotes directly from users:
“I find local products much more expensive, but I do understand it is a small production, so makes sense.”
“I won’t use an app as often because I want to reduce my usage of the phone unless it is like a shopping website that shows you just sustainable.”
“Never buying online but really interested in finding the app to buy sustainable and local in the same platform and in an easy way.”
“I always try to shop as much as I can when I go to reduce the frequency. The problem is the fresh products have less duration.”
“Price main reason you don’t buy a local product. I will definitely go for it if the prices are better.”
“I never buy products with plastic packaging. I feel that local products are great but not affordable for me if they don’t put the price down.”
“Covid-19 has influenced in the way I am doing my groceries. Nowadays, all my food is bought online. I don’t consider to go back to the supermarket.”
Again the extracted key points were connected from the previous ones in the survey:
- Local food is expensive.
- Price and packaging are the main factors when selecting a product.
- Covid-19 has influenced the way people do their groceries.
- General interest in buying local food following the purpose of becoming more sustainable.
- Local food is believed to be healthier.
Our users feel frustrated because they want to become more sustainable, but local food is expensive. Because of Covid-19, they also prefer to buy online and go less outdoors for their groceries.
- To make local food affordable to people that want to become more sustainable.
- Make it easier for them to buy the groceries, without having to leave home.
- Start building them the habit of sustainability through experience and learning.
To create an online app to make them find affordable local food and start the habit of being more sustainable.
IDEATION & VALIDATION
Crazy 8’s, first things first
I made some Crazy 8’s to brainstorm the ideas and start developing the design with the previous research results. I knew that the app design should be simple, clean, and straightforward. Users will not download an app that makes their lives more complicated, even if it is for a good purpose. Easy to use, quick user-flow and giving them a motivator: the environmental impact learning key.
After some CRITS (aka constructive ‘critiques sessions’) with some of my colleagues and their feedback, I designed the prototype in mid-fi wireframes.
Let’s talk about Usability Testings!
I did eight usability tests, divided into two rounds, with all the participants having the same characteristics as our user. I had some interesting usability discoveries showing me I needed to improve the user-flow as was not clear enough and not user-friendly enough to reach my goal.
- My initial concept was to make the users log in to be able to buy products. But our participants found that extremely disappointing when someone wants to look at the app for the first time, and then choose the products.
- Participants didn’t understand the concept of the app entirely and were trying to guess how was the flow.
- It became tricky to navigate and go back to the home menu.
I decided to get through some changes as the following ones:
- Explained in one of the first screens what was our app about. Some users had confusions still with what was about the app itself and which characteristics it has.
- Changed the wording to make more recognisable. Using the word “eco”, instead of “enviro”, we give a more straightforward understanding to the user what values we want to show from the app and the service that is offering.
- In addition to the previous changes, we decided to add an option to use de feature ecomarket as a guest profile for someone who wants to look at the app before purchasing any product. Also, it gives the user a chance not to get disappointed to have to register themselves to buy from the ecomarket section.
- Removed the notification’s icon, as participants felt confused with it since they are log in as guests.
- We added some more information about the product itself. Users participants on the usability test were missing more detailed information about the origin of the product and the essential characteristics of its production.
- Deleted the keyboard option as in the user-flow the user was not looking at the search bar.
- We added the icon in the ecodelivery option to add our location to receive the purchase.
- Finally, we decided to show in the check out/cart option the products itself that the customer is buying, to be able to summarise the purchase before getting through the payment.
Here you will find them in a more visual concept way:
After all the research and the wireframes, here’s the final version of the mid-fi prototype. Feel free to play with it and enjoy!
…and which are the connections between the research and the design solutions?
- Affordable price: ecomarket offers discounts from the first purchase.
- Packaging: all products are presented in a free plastic packaging.
- Covid-19 limitations: alternatives on how to buy this product. Online delivery or pick up.
- Sustainability interest: every product is coming with its environmental impact information.
- Origin of the product: a detailed origin of the product information at the product information icon.
Based on the surveys and the interviews with participants, I have concluded that there is a definite pattern of people not buying local food because the price and covid-19 put more limitations on selecting the place to find the cheaper options. Ecomarket gives them a solution regarding both problematics: making local food affordable and offering alternatives to buying this food, online or pick up.
What can I do better?
- Better time management.
- Don’t let distractions drive the design process.
- Improve the quality of the surveys.
- Diverge and converge better.
- How insecurity can make you doubt everything you do, and how important your colleagues’ feedback makes your design overview more comprehensive.
- It is essential to organise the tasks previously to avoid time management troubles later.
- Details are so crucial on diverging stages but converge when decisions need to be made vital.
- Teamwork is just great, and we can’t forget about the sentence “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I hope you get to enjoy this project’s design report as I did with the whole process of creating it. And remember, sustainability is not only our future but our present.
“The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible.”
― Edward O. Wilson