IDEO, Human-Centered design challenge

How might we provide healthier food options for people in need?


A few of my classmates from General Assembly as well as our tutor formed a team in order to partake in the IDEO Human-Centered design (HCD) challenge. The course was run by IDEO, a design company committed to creating positive impact who have championed HCD in their work and Acumen Academy who are an online course provider focused on courses for social change,. Find out more about IDEO here and Acumen Academy here and the HCD course here. 

HCD is a creative approach to problem solving that starts with people and ends with solutions; the key is understanding the people you are designing for. The course runs for nine weeks in which you spend your time working in the three phases of the HCD process


Learning with an open mind while remaining grounded to the desires of the people you will be designing for.

Create lots of possible solutions and then get rid of the bad ones and improve the good ones; iterating as you go and testing with your eventual users. 



Build partnerships, shore up your business model and get your idea to market. 

The idea is to create solutions that are adaptive and embraced.


Theres a lot of crossover with the Double Diamond process I learned at General Assembly except the double Diamond process puts a lot more emphasis on ideation and much less on implementation. 

After our initial readings that served to acquaint the team to the Human-Centered design philosophy, we were given a chance to select a design challenge from a few preset options. Our team chose


How might we provide healthier food options for people in need? 


Our team began by trying to understand what solutions if any had been geared to solving the issue of providing healthier food options to people in need. We found a lot of organisations attempting to solve the problem and began scheduling interviews with key individuals who could help us better understand the landscape. Here are some key takeaways from this interviews

"People on low incomes are extremely good at managing money despite popular opinion. Woman with Ramen noodles full because they are cheap to cook in terms of gas and electric. These are things that are costly to the poor - gas. Resources required are costly."

"Different communities have different reasons for not eating healthy for some it is cost reasons, for some a lack of education and others the time it takes."


We then tried to find as many people as we could who fell within the briefs parameters. We did this by sending out a survey to the contacts that we had made while speaking to industry experts and asked them to send it on to relevant people. 

We then selected a few candidates who we felt were suitable to interview and and learned from the findings. Below are some notable quotes from the interviews.

“I cook myself because it’s a good way to cut down spending.” 

Some of the challenges I face to eating healthier are  Eating well on a budget, Lack of interest or motivation to eat well, Limited time to shop and/or prepare healthy meals".

"I’ll usually look at everything and what’s the best thing on offer. I’ll buy at the supermarket, I don’t shop online as I live next to 6 supermarkets.  I’m at home so I’ll do 2 little shops a week."

We learned as much as we could from our interviews and analysed the data to come up with design themes and ultimately our solution. We found that money was not necessarily the main obstacle for the majority of our users rather

Lack of knowledge

Our users reported not knowing how to cook as a major reason for them not eating healthily 

Lack of interest 

Younger people interviewed claimed that cooking was just not something that interested them

Lack of time

Most of our users said they didn't have time to cook during the day


After several design studios our team focused on a solution we thought best dealt with the majority of the problems stopping people from eating healthy. 

Our solution was an application that would allow users to select from a bunch of preferred cuisines and then select how long they wanted to spend cooking as well as how much they wanted to spend on ingredients. Once selected the user would select to start the recipe and would get a song (one they could select or a pre selected one related to the cuisine choice) playing with the recipe dictated over the top as the song played.

We believe this application will allow people to connect with cooking in a fun and interesting and accessible where cost is not an issue. The application was also designed to make sure it is as easy as possible for people to follow on with the recipe as they listen to music. Below is the finalised deck we submitted.



We also put a prototype together as a proof of concept. Below are some screens from the ptrototype.


As part of the proof of concept we put created the song layered over the recipe. Its easier if you just listen to it ad the song is pretty good too.


Check it out here.