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User research, UX design|Year: present

Project context: The challenge is twofold: 1) to consolidate data on material ingredients and their scientific health ratings, and 2) to guide consumers towards making conscious choices that are good for themselves, the environment and the people who produce them. 

Guiding you to use toxin-free, petrochemical-free, ethical and sustainable products

Many of the products we buy and use contain ingredients that we know little about—or don’t even know are part of those products. For instance, many chemicals remain un(der)regulated—and most consumers don’t know if a product contains plastics: Think about your personal care products, your synthetic clothes, outdoor playgrounds, furniture, glues, paint, … Do YOU know? I’m a super- conscious consumer and I certainly don’t always… 


Being a truly conscious consumer these days can feel overwhelming. We often don’t have the time or resources to find out if a product checks all the boxes: Plastic-free, healthy, organic, and ethical. Yes, there are certifications (fair trade, organic, etc.), blogs and apps that help us understand how a product was made and what it contains. But often we are left with incomplete information and have to go to several sources in order to get a complete picture. 


Many times we may end up knowing that we shouldn’t buy a product—but don’t know what the alternatives are. This challenge means we have an opportunity:


How might we raise awareness and provide options for plastic-free, toxin-free, sustainable and ethical products and brands?

Market gap

I researched 45+ apps and platforms which help users identify products, and all of them focus only on 1-2 areas in the diagram. 


I didn't find a single digital platform that looks at plastic-free, sustainable, toxin-free and ethical in combination. 


But it is exactly at the intersection of all four categories where we find products, brands and business practices which are models for a healthy and sustainable future.

Product sweet spot.png

Interactive prototype (in progress)

This prototype has two flows that you can explore: 

  • search and filter

  • discover no sh*t things

Jus click on the respective flow that you want to check out on the left side!

User research, feature sketches, wireframes

More research visualizations coming soon (affinity diagrams, user flows, etc.)

After the first batch of interviews with "super conscious users", I prototyped a first concept: an app that allows you to look up an ingredient or a specific product. It then tells you whether the ingredient/the product is toxin-free, plastic-free, ethical and sustainable. 

After user interviews, one iteration was to add a "get inspired" section, where the user would be introduced to products that have been assessed for their ingredients, ethics and sustainable practices. 

Affinity map of 6 in-depth user interviews with "regular" consumers 

Interviews conscious living (5).jpg
Interviews conscious living (3).jpg

Affinity map of user feedback from 45+ "sustainable / clean living" apps in the iOS and Android app stores

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Users love the empowerment of knowledge but have clear pain points

User feedback examples

“Product not found’ after input is annoying”

“Can’t find products where I live”

“Sources of ratings not always clear, or biased”

“So useful to get updates about environmental++ issues”

“I like that the app offers alternatives”

“It takes so much time to research products”

This app opened my eyes.

Scary, but interesting!

Most valuable shopping assistant ever!

Product requirements

Database is big

Database is region-specific / country-specific

Ratings are clear & science-based

Content-based platform

Product and brand suggestions

Easy to use and accessible

Focus change: curated content

3/4 of the "super conscious users" reported that they use the scan and lookup function when they buy a new product. When interviewing the second group of users who are a bit less deep into "green living", 50% mentioned they look at blogs that offer trustworthy reviews for products / brands.

More than half of the people interviewed in both groups mentioned that it's time consuming and confusing to get a holistic assessment of brands / products.

User research of other apps also showed that the scanning function cause the most dissatisfaction if bugs occur—and for the apps with this function, this is the bug category that was mentioned most often.

This leads to taking a more contend-oriented approach: Adding a "focus of the week" section, which will highlight an issue, a supported organization or brand. I also added curated lists of products for different areas (e.g., skincare, style, furniture, yoga, surf, kitchen).

User journey for the "discover things" flow. I created more detailed user journys incl. persona, if you're interested in looking at these, just reach out! 

The different colors above the horizontal line indicate a new phase with user actions (some phases have several user actions).

Turquoise boxes: indicate opportunities,
Red boxes: describe pain points within each user action.

Based on interviews and product analysis I conducted. 

lo-fi rapid prototyping - Journey map - user research

User journey for the "search & filter" flow

lo-fi rapid prototyping - Journey map - user research

Fast sketches (click image to zoom)

lo-fi rapid prototyping - Paper sketches – iterations

Lo-fi prototype for "discover things" flow (click image to zoom)

lo-fi rapid prototyping - UX design - freelance UX research

Lo-fi prototype for "search & filter" flow (click image to zoom)

lo-fi rapid prototyping freelance ux researcher

This is an early prototype after various iterations that resulted from the first two batches of user interviews. The first batch of users were "super conscious users", the second batch were users who do buy organic groceries but aren't as "conscious" in other product areas. 

This early version caters to both user groups: the home screen lets the user scan a bar code or an ingredient list, while it also offers a discovery function for vetted products and brands. 

The current top navigation has a tab for articles/stories, discover products/brands and the scan function.

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Current version of the top nav

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One of the earlier versions of the top nav

The current bottom navigation, features saved things, search function and settings.

Group 7.png

Current version of the bottom nav

Group 7-1.png

One of the earlier versions of the bottom nav

This is not the final UX and more insights and iterations about this project are coming soon!

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