An App/Software Project
By Henry, Artemis, Ray, Samiul, and Alexander
High School Students from Mouse Design League
About this Project:
We were inspired by the concept of mutual aid to design a mobile app for the Tiny Purple Pantry mutual aid organization, which builds and oversees small food and supply pantries in New York City. Currently, it is challenging for people to locate different pantries and obtain supplies that are useful to them. Our app is a two-sided marketplace that enables pantry users to connect with pantry suppliers.
The app has three main components that aim to facilitate communication: a chat, survey, and map feature. First, users log into the app (regardless of whether they are suppliers or use the pantries to obtain supplies), which is accessible on personal devices or via a device attached to each pantry. They may use a personal account or an account dedicated to a pantry, which each pantry will be signed into. A pop-up box introducing the app and the pantries also shows up for first-time users to learn more about how to use the app and pantries. Next, users are guided to a homepage that has different buttons for a chat, survey, pantry list and map, and an “About Us” page. Through the chat, users may communicate with other people involved with the pantries, either as users or suppliers. For example, a pantry account may have a chat with the supplier of that pantry, and there is one group chat with all users. The chats may be used for supply requests or to obtain more information about the pantries. The “About Us” page provides more in-depth information about the pantries and a link to the Tiny Purple Pantry website. The survey facilitates more one-sided communication as it may be used to provide feedback on food, preferences, or issues with a specific pantry or with all the pantries in general. Lastly, the “map” feature provides a list of pantries and their locations.
Our design process began with an interview of Lindsay Manolakos, the founder of the Tiny Purple Pantry organization, who informed us of her struggles with the app. We synthesized interview notes into different and specific problems Lindsay faced. We decided to address the problem of a lack of communication between people using and supplying pantries. Next, we used storyboards and happy paths to determine how we wanted people to use our app, and made sketches of design ideas to brainstorm how our app can achieve our desired result. Lastly, through several iterations of these sketches, we created Figma wireframes of the key components of the app. Our future steps include translating our wireframes into code to make the app functional.
Feedback from the Judges:
Jonah Brucker-Cohen 👏 Assistant Professor at Lehman College / City University of New York — Emoti-Con Judge
Great idea to help out this project which was lacking a central resource for people to find the pantries. I was wondering if you thought about the problem (catch-22) of how people who have food insecurity are using these pantries including how likely is it that they would have access to a smartphone with a data service if they can't afford food?
Henry McKelvey 👏 Professor at University of the Potomac — Emoti-Con Judge
You did a great job of introducing your app, now work on making me want it! In your pitch, remember you are not talking to your peers, you are trying to get the attention of potential supporters.
Olivia Ing 👏 Founder, CEO & Creative Director at Playspaces — Emoti-Con Judge
Hi Henry, Artemis, Ray, Samiul, and Alexander! It is so great to see how your team took Lindsay Manolakos' challenges and turn them into a solution as a mobile app. The use of geolocation to find time purple pantries nearby will help give these pantries the exposure and awareness they need. I would suggest working on the storytelling of your idea so that people can understand the pain points you are trying to solve easier. I did like the integration of forms that allows pantry givers and takers to communicate what they want. It is important to be able to provide customization with the user experience design.
Emily Gregor 👏 Content Lead at Fullstack Academy — Emoti-Con Judge
Hi Henry, Artemis, Ray, Samiul, and Alexander!
Thank you for sharing this project with us! I think it's a great idea to find ways to integrate what the community actually needs with what the community has (this is such an important part of mutual aid).
I'd love to see how you would approach providing digital access to people in the community. I wonder if partnering with LinkNYC or local libraries could be an option. I think your process for identifying a problem and finding an attainable solution is spot-on and I'm excited to see the next versions of this app. Those design thinking skills will absolutely pay off in all of your careers!
Eddie Palacio III 👏 Admissions Counselor at University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design — Emoti-Con Judge
I appreciate the focus an industry need! I am curious to to see if you considered the audience for this app design. I can see how this be useful to some members of society but I wonder what happens those who may not even be aware of these pantries without their smart phone? I still think this is a great idea and can be flushed out but, be sure you consider your audience (its totally okay if your audience is one that does have smart phone access! I just wanted to make sure you all have considered this!) Great design idea and I appreciate the focus of solving market problems in food donation/exchange!
Renae Williams 👏 Chief Program Officer at Mouse — Emoti-Con Judge
Hi Henry, Artemis, Ray, Samiul, and Alexander! Thank you for doing such a thorough job walking us through your process! Your notes show you took a lot of time to interview Lindsay, understand her work, and the problem to devise a solution. This is key in the ux research/design process. You do not want to create something based on what you want the user to have, but based on the needs of the user AND your client (Lindsay). I wonder if the next step in your process would be getting feedback from potential users and better understanding who the people Lindsay hopes to reach and getting their feedback. Great job!