Green Dining Finder

Product Design

Green Dining Finder is a location-based app for Earthday365 that helps people find sustainable restaurants in St. Louis. By using this app, people can dine exclusively at restaurants that are mindful of their environmental impact and sustainability practices.

Ethical Design

Wanting to take on new challenges and keep my design skills sharp, I started searching for a new project. That’s when I stumbled upon Code for a Cause — a 48-hour hackathon focused on benefiting non-profits who don’t have the resources available to hire tech teams.

The non-profit I chose to help was Earthday 365. Their goal from the hackathon was to build a mobile app that allows for restaurant diners and their club members to find the restaurants that they audit and certify for sustainability.

The hackathon team hard at work.

Defining a Minimum Viable Product

The project statement Earthday365 outlined was ambitious for a weekend of work, to say the least. Given that the team was only made up of Earthday365 volunteers, one developer, and myself, we needed to limit the scope of this project to something we could build in a weekend.

Being the only designer on the team, I was responsible for determining the vision of what we could build in one weekend, iterating and collaborating with the team on high fidelity mockups, and building a rich prototype for the developer to reference.

Early design iterations.

Iterative Design

As a result of only having a weekend for this project, the volunteers of the team were the voices of users and were our main source of feedback. While it was not authentic user testing, the volunteers were aware of the needs of users from communicating and working with them regularly.

Through iterative design and fast feedback, I was able to improve the earlier designs and start prototyping the final solution.

Final design.

Prototyping in Origami Studio.

Validate Ideas With Prototypes

By facilitating informal interviews and hallway testing with the prototype, the Earthday365 volunteers agreed that the design could help users meet the needs we outlined for the project.

The Prototyped Design Allows Users To:

  • Locate certified GDA restaurants near their location
  • Filter results by location, food style, dietary restrictions, and rating
  • View data GDA has collected on restaurants, such as sustainability practices, member deals, and venue photos

Final solution in action.

The Challenges of a Hackathon

Even though we tried to limit the scope and features to something we could achieve in a single weekend, my team and I were not successful. We managed to get very close to a working product. However, quality assurance testing, bug fixing, and the submission process of getting into the app store prevented us from delivering within the constraints of our timeline.

Since the hackathon, the team has continued to contribute on an ongoing basis. We still plan to see the project through and deliver the working product. As it stands, the project is complete, but the release has been delayed due to COVID-19.

A look into the future.