WEEK 2 - Secondary Research & Primary Research

Date Created:          September 10th, 2018

Date Last Updated: September 27th, 2018

Secondary Research

Long before the emergence of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, our daily social life had influenced our diet habit. Remember the times when the articles with titles like "Secrets of the Oldest's Longevity", "Forever Young Diet" made the headlines? 

People start to consider nutrition as one of the metrics for daily diet. In addition, social media and networks provide a platform where people have access to related articles, bloggers and celebrities sharing their dietary conception and meal plan. The popularity of healthy eating Instagram accounts and wide ranges of diet apps have changed the way people think about food in general.has changed the way people think about food in general. So we decide to find a way to enhance this growing community.


The main goals for this project are:

  • To give people insight into a personalized healthy diet lifestyle

  • To allow for people following the same plans / sharing the same relationship with food to connect

  • Create a filtered community in which you can share your diet wins/losses

The project allows people with similar goals to gain insight into the right diet and connect. Meanwhile, to encourage more people to participate in and develop a habit of healthy diet. We are helping to create a community where people get to look into healthy diets and to inspire and support each other to become a better version of themselves.

Audit of Design Precedents​

The main goals for the project include three aspects - healthy diet habit, matching people and sharing. I inspected existing product satisfying these three features.

Healthy Diet Habit: 

  • Lifesum

       Lifesum is an app that provides users with diet plan, food diary, calorie counter and healthy recipes.

















  • Mealtime

       Mealtime is an app that offer highly customizable meal plans and recipes to busy singles, couples and families, attempting to eliminate 

       decision fatigue after a long day's work. These plans work with users' unique tastes and lifestyle.

Matching people:

  • Buzzfeed - Quizzes

       Buzzfeed has a multitude of quizzes.

  • OKCupid

       OKCupid is a dating app.









  • Instagram is a kind of social media which has become one of the most popular ways where people share their own diet habit with others and connect with other people seeking to live similar lifestyle.

  • Youtube is a kind of social media where people post videos about their recipes or post vlogs to log their lifestyle.

Competitive Analysis

Getting to grips with the ins and outs of a UX competitor analysis can help us know the market, product and goals better.

I did the competitive analysis on Instagram, Youtube, Mealtime, Lifesum and Yelp. The purposes of these apps fall into two different categories: either to create a platform for people to share their diets or to provide highly customized meal plan. The weakness for the former is the rather mixed content. The latter, however, it could be hard to persist with since the users are doing on their own to some extend.

The main difference from the app we want to create is that there would a community within our app in which you can share your eating habits. Not only can you post and keep track of what you are eating yourself, you are able to see what others are eating as well. In addition, users can share their success and failures with others. Other apps also do not take the extra step to connect you and personalized style to other users. This gives the user direct insight into what is working for others that are similar to them.

The motivation behind our design is to fulfill the personal and emotional connection to other users.

Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholders are people who hold stake in our product. When we started to list all the stakeholders, we wrote down everything that came to our mind, such as meal skipper, junk food lovers, gym rats, people who wants to lose / gain weight. Then I become confused, what is the difference between stakeholders and users? So I went to read more articles to figure it out.

Stakeholders are those people, groups, or individuals who either have the power to affect, or are affected by the endeavour you're engaged with. They range from the head of your organisation to the man on the street who may experience the effects of what you set out to do. In this way, stakeholders can be our users, can be a project manager, or even a developer who can tell you the technical constraints. Junk food lovers, meal skippers, they are potential stakeholders and both can be users. Hence, I think things like junk food lovers and meal skippers should be considered as varities of users. In this way, we finally confirmed our stakeholders and sketched the mapping.

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-09 at 22.28.05.jp

Our team working on stakeholder mapping.


Users and customers are not the same. Customers are people who purchase a product while users are people who actually use a product. For example, if my mom buys me a mac, then my dad is a customer rather than a user. I who use this mac am a user. Customers are also important stakeholders for they are paying for a product. I think customers will influence our design for experience goals, which corresponds to Norman's visceral processing level, in some way. The goal of customers can be different from that of users. Of course, there are places they overlap. If I buy a mac for myself, then I becomde both users and customers.

Audit of Lifesum

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Audit of Mealtime

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Buzzfeed - Quizzes.png

Audit of Buzzfeed - Quizzes

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Audit of OKCupid

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I did the 1st version of the stakeholder mapping














Primary Research

Stakeholder map.png

I remade the stakeholder mapping after reflection.

The 2nd version of the stakeholder mapping

Central question

At first, we didn't have a central question for our interview. Then I read a lot of articles about user research. I did believe that one should always have a central question before all the primary research work. So I suggested our team to think of the central question before all the interview questions.

​It's important for us to nail down a central question for our user research. A central question is the one that guide us in the right direction while doing user research. It tells us what we are trying to get through interview. It is also the question that we have to keep asking ourselves during the course of design.


Central question: Why people would want to keep a healthy diet and how do they do it?

The main method I used for user research is active observation (aka contextual inquiry). Active observation can help me better find out people's procedural knowledge which is “largely subconscious” (Norman, 2013), revealing the true pattern of users’ behavior and the motivation.

Interview: Dawen Wang (Private Trainer)

This interviewee is a 30 year old personal trainer. She thinks diet is even more important than workout. She believes that it would be useless to force her clients to follow a specific meal plan if they have no idea why they are doing it. She thinks only by making a healthy diet a habit, a lifestyle a person agree with, can this person live a true healthy life. She also mentioned that people all run a very tight schedule nowadays, in most cases people would not have much time to have a well-prepared lunch. Even herself sometimes does not feel like cooking nor has any clue of what she should eat today.

Interview: Boyu Zhang (Graduate Student)

This interviewee is a 22 year old graduate student. She was about to cook her lunch when I interviewed her. She is on a diet to lose weight. Everytime when she is cooking, she weighs everything first and input the weight into an app in her phone to calculate calories. She tends to keep a balanced diet, attempting to have enough carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins and proteins from each meal. She tries to offer herself enough nutrient sources and to avoid to eat repeat food everyday when she is picking up food from market. Since she is a student, having no time to eat a well-prepared breakfast happens a lot.


Interview: Bai (Mother)

This interviewee is a 37 year old mother who has a daughter at Anqing No.1 Middle school. She really cares about feeding her daughter well during growth spurts. She often googles what is the best meal for kids and follow those instructions and recipes. She can not really tell which of them are truly useful. “ It looks good.“ ”It seems plausible.” She tries everything she thinks it will be good for her daughter.

Summary of Research Findings

  • Feel the right demographic would be 18-35

  • Too busy to follow specific meal plan

    • People’s body start to change and they want to find a personalized diet

    • People want to connect with others who are also going through the same changes

  • People with busy working schedules; need to find other people who also have time

    • People don’t want to start diets on their own.

    • Will give them the easiest and quickest access to a diet

  • Specialize efforts to work with vegans

  • Easier to work with athletes

  • People feel inspired by seeing what works for other



It is very important to have a question protocol first. Think before writing down the questions. 

"What do we want to solicit from interviews?"

"Why we are asking these questions?"


On one hand, I found that it was easy to be distracted from the central question by interviewees description while conducting the first contextual inqury, On the other hand, interviewers also should be ready to deviate from the questions where they can uncover potentially useful threads. The process is very flexible. I need to practice more.