Due to the global pandemic, many New Yorkers suffer from food insecurity. Community leaders took on the jobs of organizing community fridges to serve neighborhoods suffering from food insecurity and empower them.
Our goal of this passion project was to understand how community fridge organizers manage and maintain the fridges they are responsible for. This includes uncovering the methods they use to recruit and coordinate volunteers, check on the health of their fridges, and connect with other organizations and storefronts in their area.
Research: User interviews, analysis, feature prioritization, journey mapping & more.
Ideation: Design Studio & sketching wireframes
Design: Prototyping, Usability testing, report & more
2 weeks - Full-time
Product strategy | UX Rearch + Design
Keynote | Figma | Trello | Maze
Plenish is the Community Organizer's best Companion that provides a hub for organizers (and eventually volunteers and businesses) to seamlessly integrate the operations side of their community fridge into their busy lives so they can focus on furthering mutual aid efforts in their neighborhoods.
Community fridge organizers are unable to be in constant surveillance of the fridges they manage. As a result, it can be difficult to gauge whether fridges are up to date with items that the community needs.
Business & Competitive Research
No competitors offered the ability to view the stock status of the fridge at a glance (low vs fully stocked or # of items remaining)
No competitors offered the ability to share an anticipatory estimate of when the fridge would need to be restocked based on past rates of depletion
4/6 competitors allowed users to create an account,
3/6 competitors were accessible via an iOS or Android native app
Overall, there were no features that were shared across all 6 competitors
Imperfect Foods positions themselves as not just a grocery delivery service but also as a contributor to battling food waste and promoting how to be more environmentally conscious.
Their commitment to being a net-zero carbon operation by 2030 adds credibility to their mission and adds an extra layer of value for potential customers
The website makes it easy to both learn about Imperfect Foods as a grocery delivery business but also to learn about food waste and FAQs on sustainability tips
“Doing the right thing doesn’t need to cost more”
Calendar integration with available and scheduled shifts
Community feed with upcoming and previous events based on the fridges in the area
Ability to save contact information of organizers and volunteers
A page dedicated to notes about a certain fridge. Check in and volunteer information is also available.
The development behind our rational decisions – what did we validate to arrive at our design?
Understand Users, Define Pain Points, Develop Empathy
Our main method of finding our participants was to reach out directly to community fridge volunteers, organizers and food pantry organizers. We were able to physically visit one of the community fridges in the area (the Chelsea community fridge), and speak to the organizer of this fridge. The primary overseer of that fridge gave us many great insights and connected us with more volunteers in order to help us further continue our research process.
Community fridge organizers need a formal system for planning and strategizing their day to day
Community organizers value having a network of other mutual aid and community leaders.
Community organizers recognize the importance of raising awareness of their community fridge to drive donations and get steady volunteers.
Fridge organizers depend on volunteers and others to help them maintain the health of the fridge
Our Target Audience
We constructed 3 personas to remind us whom we are designing for. Our primary persona represents the organizers and where our focus lies. However, we knew that other stakeholders like volunteers and business owners also played a part in community fridges so we developed abbreviated secondary and tertiary personas to reflect their goals, needs, and frustrations as well.
We created Mia as our primary persona due to the insightful feedback we gathered from speaking with some of the organizers. Her main goal is to be able to keep all the scheduling and planning up to date. One of her biggest frustrations is that she uses too many platforms to communicate with volunteers and often doesn’t see the messages that come through
Secondary + Tertiary Personas
Our second persona Malik was constructed from the volunteers' point of view. Malik is involved in the community and his goal is to help out as much as he can. His main pain point is that doesn’t always know when the fridge needs to be restocked.
The tertiary persona Cynthia created was for future iterations. Since Cynthia is a business owner, her main goal is that she wants to give back to the community so she needs to be able to contact local organizers and schedule pickups.
As we walk through Mia's journey we see she has encountered a couple of frustrations that interfere with her upcoming trip out of town:
Brainstorm, innovate and sketch
To prep for design studio we conducted 2 types of feature prioritization maps then focused on the most critical features.
Each member ideated and developed separate sketches for our product. We then collaborated on a final proposed design that was turned into 14 mid-fi mobile screens ready for our first round of usability testing
Design Explore, critique, and refine
Visualizing the redesign concept for further discussion exploration, and usability testing.
Pin Up Activity
Our peers conducted a silent activity during the research/design phase to gain feedback on our work. Work was silently laid out on whiteboards and critiqued with sticky notes for about 30 mins. Followed by a verbal discussion about each team’s current progress or things they could improve on. Here is a real-time video of our pinup activity and discussion:
We got a lot of positive feedback and some great critique that we incorporated into our high-fidelity designs.
Refinement and visual exploration.
Branding + Accessibility
The Style Guide
we dot-tested for brand colors using color psychology; created a logo based on adjectives that embodied our product values; and explored other apps for inspiration. Ultimately creating our Style Guide.
An aspect of design that I would change about our work would be our color accessibility. I would highly prioritize any way to improve accessibility for those who are colorblind. As you can see below most of our text on color has failed the requirements. The future updates on the app would have black text on orange background for visuals.
Testing +Success Metrics
Findings + Insights + Future recommendations
Findings from Usability testing
After the first usability testing of our concept, we iterated and tested one more time building off of the new data collected.
Catering towards 4 main flows
Google Maps - For use in our map view screens
Embedded static map
Static map embedded into iframe that will have fridge locations overlaid
Provide approximate device location of the user to determine proximity to fridges around them
Manually input volunteer shifts or local events
Alert and reminders of upcoming shift and events
Many participants voiced their request for certain features that we had not previously considered in feature prioritization, such as uploading videos or more detailed event planning capabilities. We considered Key Performance Indicators to help evaluate our success at reaching specific targets.
The second round of usability testing gave us some valuable insights as to where we can iterate on our designs for future testing. Additionally, many participants voiced their request for certain features that we had not previously considered in feature prioritization, such as uploading videos or more detailed event planning capabilities.
As a result, we have a clear idea of our most immediate next steps to have viable designs for a pilot launch as well as stretch goals for how we can potentially incorporate new features in the future given that further user research shows a need for them.