Problem

Walls, physical and metaphorical, keep us apart.

As our cities expand and our neighborhoods become more densely populated, our neighbors are more likely to be impersonal strangers than familiar friends. How would we meet them? What would we do or talk about together? What would we have in common?

Hypothesis

Food brings us together. By connecting through food, we transcend alienation and build community.

Communities and cultures gather around the kitchen and the dining table. Shared meals allow us to engage with each other in a universal activity and fulfill basic human needs together. Potluck meals extend connections further by encouraging participation and collaboration towards a common goal. Amazing things happen when people work together to make a meal. See the story of Stone Soup.

Solution

NeighborFood

A tool that enables local communities to hold group dinners, particularly potluck meals.

Assumptions

  • People are willing to host and attend meals with strangers.
  • Reach is high and enrollment is automatic or handled by residential managers and community leaders.
  • Either social pressure or the desire for a good meal will drive people to high rates of quality participation with the tool.

Applications

  • Small- and medium-sized business marketing applications
  • Cooking and recipe networks
  • Calendar and event management
  • Local community networks

Audience

  • Primary audience: urban residents in multi-unit buildings and complexes.
  • Other audiences: urban residents in general, non-profit organizations that coordinate group meals, student groups, corporate departments organizing bonding events.

Methods

Design Process

1 Concept

First, I brainstormed, writing or drawing all of my thoughts on paper as I considered the mission, name, primary users, constraints and potential features of this product. The personal narrative that inspired NeighborFood became the user “persona” for my designs.

2 Experience

Then I fleshed out the core experience of NeighborFood. By organizing and streamlining feature flows, I identified the feature that I thought best encapsulated the mission of NeighborFood, the “Create an Event” interface.

3 Interaction

I sketched and iterated on the page layout. Here I tried to explore different options for header elements and main navigation. I also looked at how the main panel, navigation panel and inline popups would interact with each other.

Then I elaborated on secondary interfaces and states, including inline popups and modal windows for inserting content into the form. These sketches helped me consider how users would access these interfaces.

I began creating wireframes in Photoshop. I strove to maintain a clear hiearchy of information and interactions. I felt that allowing users to enter in content using natural human language was crucial but accessible secondary interfaces that helped users verify information, such as a calendar view for date, could also enhance their experience.

While these wireframes helped me get a sense of appropriate typography, relative positioning and spacing, I found it too slow to meet the needs of this project so I moved on to the high-fidelity designs.

4 Interface

The final design is below. It shows the completed state of the form while the design above showed the initial state. To the right are examples of secondary interfaces.

My goal for the visual design was to convey fun and warmth with colors, typography and a unique layout. Part of the reason I chose the navigation layout was because it reminded me of stacked recipe cards. I kept the main panel simple because I wanted not only to allow the focus to be on fields but also to highlight delicious pictures of food.

Results

Product