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Over the course of the fall 2019 semester, our class broke into groups to answer a question of our choosing through human-centered design. My group chose to research the question:

Graduate Student Group Project 


UX Designer and Researcher


Foundation of Human-Centered Design

Fall Semester 2019

“How can we increase the amount of home-cooked food young adults eat?” 

woman looking at mockup of preppy
Cooking Tools
What's the problem?

Home cooking can be highly beneficial to a person’s health, leading to a healthier diet or even a longer lifespan. However, millennials purchase the highest proportion of pre-made meals compared to any other generation (source) . We wanted to understand why that is and what solution we could offer in response.

Couple Cooking
Meeting people where they are at

To begin to understand our problem, we performed a contextual inquiry of those in our target age group. We met with those in their 20’s through 30’s in their home kitchens where they regularly cook. Team members would walk through a typical cooking routine with subjects and asked open-ended questions about their thought process both in and out of the kitchen. In total, seven subjects were interviewed using contextual inquiry.

Breaking down the data

After we collected our data, we reviewed all of our observations and recordings in order to recognize common themes. We organized these common themes into 15 categories using an affinity diagram.

Eating Out


Making Food Last

Meal Prep












The data, personified 

Based on the affinity diagram, personas and scenarios were created that represented the major roadblocks to millennial home-cooking.

Those personas were:

Henry Persona

Health Conscious Henry

  • Struggles with Dietary Restrictions 

  • Limited budget

  • Inexperienced with cooking

Always on the Go Alexander

  • Busy work schedule 

  • Limited energy 

  • Prioritizes convenience

Alexander Persona
Maria Persona

Mindful Eater Maria

  • Eats out often to see friends

  • Bored easily of repetitive meals

  • Prioritizes socializing

How might we encourage people to cook when they have energy?

Gathering insights and asking questions

The process of idea generation took place over several
stages and methods. To begin the process, we reviewed the themes from the affinity diagram. We then wrote insight statements on these themes and turned them into “How Might We?” questions.  Over 30 “How Might We?” questions were formed from this activity.

How might we make cooking a relaxing activity?

How might we decrease the amount of time to meal  prep?

How might we help people find quality ingredients on low budget?

With these insights at the forefront of our minds, my team dove headfirst into idea generation. Dozens of sketches were created and presented to the group, each of which had to answer our “How might we” questions. The team considered all of these ideas intently, and concepts varied wildly. These included ideas for car modifications, cooking mobile applications, and even public cooking facilities

Sketch of crock pot idea
sketch of meal prep app concept
sketch of car cafe concept
sketch of cooking match concept
sketch of cooking library concept
Generating ideas
Our solution:

After many rounds of ideation and discussion, we decided on the idea for a mobile application that facilitates group meal preparation titled Preppy. Users can connect with friends by creating meal prep groups that meet at designated times to make meals for the rest of the week.  

Preppy app home screen

This app concept addresses the major findings from our research, specially how socializing while cooking can create a positive atmosphere that reduces many of the anxieties related to cooking. Meal prepping, in general, is a budget-friendly, time-saving, and healthy style of cooking.  

The prototype

The prototype was created in Adobe XD, allowing for real time group collaboration and testing.


Features include profile setup, creating/joining a group, in-app messaging, etc.. Visuals were kept minimal to prioritize recognizing and solving usability issues with the limited timeframe given


Two rounds of updates  were made to the prototype following user testing and feedback.

Testing Preppy

Five participants were brought in to test the usability of the app.  Users were prompted to complete several tasks using the app and were rated on a scale of 1 to 4 (1 being complete success, 4 being complete failure).


Tasks were generally successful, but issues arose from icon legibility and touch target sizes. These problems were all fixed for the final version.

task analysis spreadsheet
Results and reflections

Following the task walkthrough, users completed a System Usability Scale (SUS) survey for us to understand how users themselves viewed the usability of the app. A SUS score above 68 indicates an above-average result. Prior to the final prototype iteration, the average score for our prototype was 68.5. This indicated that we were on the right path but further iterations were needed.


After the semester ended, I revisited the app on my own to update the visuals and show what the app could look like with further design iterations. I believe this app has great potential in fostering social relationships and encouraging young people to cook at home. 

preppy app home screen
preppy app group screen
preppy app ingredient screen
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