What The Fork

Jan - may, 2020
Learner Experience Design
Environment crisis has never been more severe than current age. Food system plays a large role in the environment and climate. However, the awareness of the relations among our diet, earth and our health is not widely spread. To address this food sustainability issue in a small scale, our design seeks to improve on-campus dining experience for CMU freshmen and engage them with food system beyond consumption.
My roles

Exploratory Research, Prototype, Wireframe, User Test, Hifi Mockup

Meet the team

Ema Karavdic, Yue Jiang, Nick Marotta, Xuehui Zhang

The Process
Stakeholder Mapping
We decided to focus on CMU freshmen as one of the key stakeholders because they are in a transitional period of their lives. It is perfect time to introduce them to an educational experience on their daily diet habits. Dining Service (DS) and Residential Education (RE) then became key stakeholders because all freshmen are required to have meal plans and live on campus at CMU. Both of them are relevant to freshmen's lives, and together they form a narrower food system.
Exploratory Research
In order to validate our assumptions and explore more insights, we conducted exploratory research including user interview, graffiti wall, and observation in dining services event. We aimed to deeply investigate freshmen's understanding about sustainability, and existing and ideal campus dining experiences, and how DS and RE can support freshmen's learning experience.
- 3 freshmen
- Directors from dining services
- Sustainability coordinator from Chartwells
- Residential education coordinator

- student dining advisory committee

Graffiti Wall
- Mad lib activity in resident hall
Understanding Problem Space
To better understand current problems, we analyzed problems in current state, and identified 3 majors gaps. We also started to brainstorm how we could bridge the gaps by imagining the ideal situation, and comparing current and preferred states.
How might we engage freshmen at CMU to become food citizens through their on-campus experience, caring for the Earth through the food that they eat?
Conceptual Model
In modeling the learning experience, we found that Dirksen’s Flow of Goals most effectively facilitated us through the learning steps. For the freshman year, we aim to help students understand sustainability, and apply some of the learning in their daily lives on campus. After freshman year, we envisioned that students would be able to apply this learning to more contexts, eventually building up cooking skills, and make more impacts.
Speed Dating
After brainstorming, rearranging, and assessing our ideas, the final concept that we presented in speed dating session was based on the following 4 ideas.
To validate our concepts, we created a storyboard with a few variations to include our key concepts. Then, we presented our concepts in a digital speed dating format with our classmates, using the storyboard as a tool to drive discussions about the features of our idea. In the storyboard, we thought through the scenarios of freshmen's experience from orientation week to the end of the semester, and aligned our understanding for the service as a team.
Wireframing and Testing
After consolidated the feedbacks from the speed dating, we started out prototype process to visualize our final ideas. During the testing session, we chose to test on onboarding, data, and goals, as these 3 sections play most vital roles in helping students achieve learning 3 objectives:
1. Introduce sustainability through personalization in onboarding;
2. Help freshmen reflect on their eating practices and baseline their knowledge;
3. Give freshmen the opportunity to develop and practice new skills.

When making our decisions on whether we address all feedback, one of the key principle was to constantly focus on how each element of our design influences our learning goals rather than stuck by the details of the UX. Among many comments we received from the think aloud test, we decided to focus on:
  • Reducing cognitive load for all sections,
  • Increasing trustworthiness by telling users why we are asking certain questions and how we collect their data for each step,
  • Removing Earth elements because it is too confusing,
  • Creating stronger content connection within the app including better integration of plant parent component, and sustainability evaluation in Explore section.
Final UI
The What The Fork app and plant physicalization seek to facilitate freshmen from the beginning of the semester. The words we chose to represent What The Fork are natural, vibrant and friendly, so we selected colors accordingly.
Be inclusive of various values on sustainability
One of the recurring themes was the importance of making sure our content wasn’t making a moral judgment on users, so that we could include users that don't care about sustainability as much as we do. We seek to frame diet in terms of facts so that freshmen have agency, but are guided in possible options.
Implementation of Certain Elements
Some issues that we didn't address in this course are very important for the platform we designed.
For the Plan Parent component, those questions are: Who advises the necessities for each plant’s wellbeing? Where is all of this water coming from? How much infrastructure has to be adjusted to accommodate these plants, and how much money does that cost?
For the sustainability rating in Explore section, it is critical to figure out what types of data goes behind evaluation, and how to obtain the data.