When I first stepped onto my college campus as a freshman, the excitement of starting a new chapter quickly turned into concern as I noticed a pervasive issue among my peers - food insecurity. It wasn't just about the availability of food but its affordability, convenience, and nutrition. This realization sparked the inception of LopesEat, a project that would not only start my journey as a designer but also as a problem-solver and entrepreneur.
August 2019 — January 2021
Product Designer, Project Manager, COO
Adobe XD, Google Forms, Glide Apps, React Native
Infographics displaying statistics on food insecurity among college students.
Problem Definition and Scope
According to studies 40 percent of college students face food insecurity. But food insecurity was not just a term I read about in reports; it was a reality I saw and experienced among my friends. Peers cramming for exams, part-time jobs, and trying to find affordable meals made it clear that percentage might be on the lower side. This issue wasn't just about hunger; it was about the stress and anxiety that came with not knowing where your next meal would come from.
Visuals from user research sessions and key data points from surveys.
Determined to understand the scale and specifics of food insecurity on campus, I initiated a research process involving over 1000 participants. Using surveys, interviews, and focus groups, I aimed to capture a wide range of experiences and perspectives. This approach was crucial for gathering both quantitative data to grasp the magnitude of the issue and qualitative insights to understand the emotional and practical challenges faced by students.
The development of the app required comprehensive collaboration, from stakeholders, such as the campus dining team, IT department, financial office, and 3rd party companies like Glide and Sodexo, each providing unique insights that shaped the app's functionality and user experience.
Example Image Placement: Diagrams of the barcode system workflow and photos from stakeholder meetings.
Visuals of the Glide prototype and demo commercial. Illustrate the user journey from both the customer’s and runner’s perspectives, showing screenshots or wireframes from the MVP to depict how the initial concept supported each step of the service.
Design and Implementation
Showcase the detailed design progressions from Adobe XD, including the implementation of new security features and user interface enhancements, to demonstrate how stakeholder feedback was integrated into the app’s evolution.
UI/UX Refresh and Security Features
As LopesEat progressed beyond the MVP stage, stakeholder feedback called for a transition to a more sophisticated platform, prompting a shift towards advanced development methodologies. Utilizing Adobe XD, I translated our validated concepts into detailed designs, preparing for a transition to a full-fledged React Native app.
This process involved not only reevaluating the user interface for enhanced clarity and efficiency but also implementing new security features to protect user data. By developing a custom solution, we significantly improved the app’s security framework without sacrificing the seamless user experience established during the MVP phase.
This meticulous approach ensured that LopesEat remained responsive to user needs while meeting the stringent security requirements set forth by our stakeholders.
Example Image Placement: Showcase the detailed design progressions from Adobe XD, including the implementation of new security features and user interface enhancements, to demonstrate how stakeholder feedback was integrated into the app’s evolution.
Impact of COVID-19 and Business Model Pivot
The success of LopesEat extended beyond mitigating food insecurity, demonstrated by a surge in user sign-ups and significant social media engagement. The pivot to delivering essentials from dorms, initially a response to unprecedented times, addressed broader student needs, transcending traditional food delivery. The enthusiastic adoption and heartfelt testimonials underscored our service's value.
Example Image Placement: Charts and graphs showcasing user growth, alongside selected social media posts praising LopesEat.
Lessons Learned and Future Directions
This project represented a profound journey that significantly enhanced my skills in design, research, and project management. It underscored the importance of adaptability, showcased the effectiveness of user-centered design, and highlighted the critical role of empathy in solving real-world challenges.
Example Image Placement: A reflective photo capturing a moment of realization or growth, possibly with my notebook or design sketches.
LopesEat was not just a project or business; it was a mission that challenged and changed me. It was a bridge that started my passion for design and my commitment to making a tangible difference. As I look forward to new challenges, the lessons learned from LopesEat will remain a guiding light.
Example Image Placement: A personal photo that captures my journey with LopesEat, symbolizing both an end and a new beginning.