College students in NYC want to spend less money on eating out and instead prioritize health in their diets.

But it's difficult to achieve both without knowing how to make well-informed decisions, leading to unneccessary stress.

After finally moving out of campus, I no longer had to worry about making the most of my meal plan and could eat what I wanted. However, I found it challenging to maintain a balanced diet on my own without overspending.

Not to mention, the abundant food scene in NYC makes it difficult to stay rational (I get so curious!).

As healthy food is often less accessible, it added another layer of emotional stress when trying to choose between eating healthily and spending less.


Eatcue: Learn to make the best decisions.

Eatcue (coming from food IQ)  is an app that helps users solve their desire to eat healthily on a budget by teaching them tactics such as mindful eating, healthy swaps, meal prepping through interactive lessons and activities to reinforce learning.

The concepts learned from the app will serve as a strong foundation for users to make better choices about their food budgeting for the rest of their lives.


Part 1

Identifying opportunity

Method: Interview

To determine if other college students in NYC shared similar concerns about their eating and spending habits, I created a list of questions to better understand their relationship with food and budget. I narrowed it down to three broad questions that I thought would give me the most insight into the problem space, and conducted 15-minute interviews with 3 students.

1. How do you make decisions about what you want to eat?
2. How do you perceive healthy eating?
3. On what occasions do you choose to eat out vs. at home? What factors help you decide and how do you typically feel about your decision?

*Admittedly, there's a lot of room for improvement for my research method here! I talk more about this in my conclusion...


When it comes to choosing what to eat, convenience is a main factor followed by nutrition.

All interviewees emphasized that their decisions were heavily influenced by time and convenience. Contrary to my expectations, they didn’t seem to stress as much about their spendings.

Part 2

Understanding the problem

Method: Survey, interview, affinity mapping, persona, current journey map

I wanted to do further research through a survey with a larger sample size to determine if I was addressing a valid concern.

I sampled their various thoughts, behaviors, and values towards their food and spending habit, followed with another round of interviews to pinpoint their troubles.

18 students participated in the survey and I interviewed 3 of them.

94% of the sampled students reported that restaurants were among their leading monthly expenses and expressed a desire to reduce the amount they spend on eating out.

I feel pressured to eat out with friends, and after eating out, I might get frustrated at myself.
– S.C

Affinity Map

I sorted the notes from the survey + interviews and categorized them to find commonalities.


1. Social motivations

The top reasons for students to eat out include social relations, convenience, and curiosity.

2. Priority on health

Students prioritize food quality and health, and are willing to spend more on options better for their overall well-being.

3. Existing efforts

Most students have a strategy they use for their food/budgeting habits, but they still report it as a struggle.

Turning insights into concepts

I took the insights from my affinity mapping and explored the potential solutions.

1. HMW utilize social motivations to encourage healthier eating?

Make cooking / meal planning a social activity and share groceries with friends

2. Assuming they’re willing to spend more on healthy foods, HMW ensure they follow through with their plans?

Create a meal planning system and implement an accountability motivator (e.g. streaks, friends)

3. HMW enhance their existing strategy to make it more effective?

Teach them supplementary strategies they can use across different situations (Selected)

After exploring my different options, I thought the last one (3) catered best towards my target audience. College students are often tight on time and shouldn't need to avoid eating out completely; I wanted something that can work around unavoidable situations.

Persona + Current Journey Map

I found it helpful to build a persona because it gave me a clearer visualization of who I was designing for. In order to see how I could help Julian, I charted out all of his actions from pre-meal to consumption to identify opportunities for help.

Competitive analysis

Nothing on the market shows you how to make healthy decisions for yourself.

There is no shortage of apps that help you shop for budget-friendly groceries and creating a structured meal plan. But for students that do not have enough time and can’t avoid eating out, it may be better to teach them methods (e.g. food swapping) that they can apply in any scenario for a lifetime.

How would Eatcue compare?

A combination of its competitors, Eatcue would help users solve the desire to eat healthily on a budget by teaching them various tactics (meal planning, recipes, etc.) in an interactive way (similar to Zest).

An easy and convenient commitment.

Students are busy people and can’t always afford to spend a lot of time trying to implement new habits. This makes it important to have short and digestible content as well as low-commitment features.


I designed the new user experience by imagining the user flow, followed with a wireframe (1) and complete prototype (1), each accompanied with user testing.

The new user experience consists of answering questions to personalize your app experience, signing up, reading your first lesson, and completing your first task to earn points to spend on rewards.

*By personalizing before signing up, users can learn more about how the app can benefit them and may be more likely to create an account after putting in the time.

User Testing (Wireframe)

I focused mainly on the onboarding personalization at this stage and wanted to get external opinions early on. I asked 3 people to navigate the prototype without guidance and wanted to see...

  • If the navigation was intuitive
  • If there were features/information missing they would have found useful
  • How they felt during the process



  • Carousel was well-received
  • Tester had an easy time with navigation and found the onboarding to be fun

Work On

  • "Take the Quiz" made the users feel like they were being tested; work on improving word choice
  • The meaning behind the nav-bar icons were unclear

"take the quiz"

"Get started"

Based on feedback from testing, I did a side-by-side comparison test with new text variations. I asked my friends to point out which variation made them feel most excited about using the app and they chose “get started”.

The nav bar

I incorrectly assumed that most users would eventually learn the purpose of each page through experience. By accompanying the icons with text, it becomes much easier to navigate for new users.

Designing for context

With consideration to topic of health and education that I was designing for, word choices that properly conveyed information in an easy-to-understand and thoughtful manner was one of my main challenges (e.g., using “change weight” as opposed to “diet” or “lose weight”).

Final User Testing

I took a final step back from my own design and asked 3 new testers to run through the hi-fidelity prototype.

1) I asked testers to explain their understanding of Eatcue to see if the onboarding delivered sufficient information.

2) I wanted to know if there was anything they found unclear or confusing.



  • Users had a good grasp on Eatcue's purpose

Work On

I'm a little confused on whether the lessons are weekly and if I need to commit. I find it hard to commit to things even when it's at your own pace so the non-commitment features such as swap and logging appeal to me.
– J.L
  • More on the product end: Clarify lesson structure

From weekly lessons to at-your-own-pace.

My original intention with having a weekly lesson structure was to give users a clear target for what to achieve and when.

J.L's comment reminded me that I was designing for college students who have limited time, so I revisited the decisions I made about the product!

I switched the weekly lessons out for ones users could freely take at their own pace. I can encourage commitment without pressuring it by letting users set their own goals how they'd like to proceed.


Style Guide

I wanted to convey the app as one that's fun and accessible, making users excited to start their new journey with Eatcue.


Not really

The end

The long process of researching, testing, and repeatedly honing my designs has led to a project I’m proud of, but still, I believe there’s a lot of room for improvement.

What I learned

  • It's good to ask for lots of help! Having a fresh pair of eyes helped a lot with nitpicking details I glazed over
  • Settling on a good word choice can be harder than settling on a design choice...
  • Brand identity is formed through every decision in tone, color, shapes, and more!

Something I want to improve on

I'd like to work more on my research method. The sample for my initial interview research was quite small and biased given that they were my friends. While they gave me incredible insights, it definitely would have been better if I reached out to a larger audience for more diversity!

Moving Forward...

  • Fully developing the features of every page and adding interaction
  • Testing with more users to see what engages them in other apps and create a sample curriculum to challenge the effectiveness of Eatcue's method

Thank you :)

You've reached the end...why not take a look at my other projects?

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