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Enabling healthy eating amongst university students in the UK


Most UK college students are aware of the characteristics of a healthy diet (e.g., five servings of fruit and vegetables daily, adequate calories and liquid as defined by the World Health Organisation and the UK Government), but they face challenges in implementing these habits (e.g., lack of time, cultural barriers, academic pressure, financial constraints, and social pressure). This project will examine the challenges faced by students at universities in the United Kingdom and suggest an idea to remove those obstacles, allowing for healthier dietary habits among the target audience. 

Project Overview


  • User Research

  • Competitor Analysis

  • "How Might We"

  • Story Boarding

  • Digital Wireframe 

  • Usability Testing

  • Hi Fi Mockup

  • Survey

  • Trees Testing


  • Figma

  • Eye Gaze Tracker

  • Optimal Workshop

  • Google Forms

  • Miro

  • Google Scholar 

My Role

  • UX & UI Researcher


  • Overall - 8 Weeks

  • Discovery & Research - 2 Weeks

  • Design & Testing - 6 Weeks

Secondary Research

The university’s microenvironment is a transient space for students which consists of increased autonomy, exposure to new cultures, and a period of increased intellectual curiosity.

Tanton et al. described 18.7% of university students in the UK (n = 345), whereas Morris et al. uncovered that 40% of the first-year students (n = 795) have risky dietary patterns (energy-dense, nutrient-poor) which bear long-term adverse health and wellbeing issues. ​

UCAS data, showed that 27% of first-year students (n = 12,000) order in a takeaway at least once a week.

Problem Statement

How do we effectively encourage university students to maintain healthier dietary patterns?

There are various influences on a university student’s dietary pattern, Deliens et al., research in Belgium uncovers and succinctly presents many of these factors (see below Figure). 

Primary survey

Survey findings revealed that a large proportion of students express interest in maintaining a healthy diet, but when questioned about their diet currently, fewer were able to follow through on their intentions. Furthermore, a significant proportion of respondents reported eating fast-food regularly. Finally, a majority of respondents expressed a wish for an easier way to pursue a healthy diet, demonstrating a demand for a solution.

Primary research was undertaken which validated the student problem concerning unhealthy dietary patterns. A survey asking current university students about their dietary patterns and desires. 155 UK students from Goldsmiths University, the University of Exeter, the University of Leicester, Kings College London, and the University of Oxford completed the survey.

When I decide what to eat, I decide based on ...


Primary Survey Results

Students Opinions on health and diet


Students Opinions on-campus meal


Case Study:
Goldsmiths University

Goldsmiths’ campus - like most inner-city campuses - is surrounded by fast-food restaurants. 


Unhealthy food options are easily accessible to students. This creates temptations for stressed, busy, financially struggling students to often buy unhealthy snacks. 


User Types of dietary patterns across the UK

University students are diverse and that arises in their dietary patterns. These differences range across gender, cooking ability, stress tolerance, disability, and food preference. The following diagram summarises the composition of common user groups on a typical UK university network.  


Who are our target users?

We have created an empathy map of a typical "snacker" type university student  "Jax".

Jax is a uni student who wants to be healthy but due to academic social and personal pressure fails to do so and mainly relies on snack items.

Frame 117.jpg

Competitor Analysis

The competitor analysis compares nine existing solutions across the most valued aspects from the user's perspective: taste, convenience, cost, time, and healthiness.


User Capabilities Assessments of UK university students with risky dietary patterns

Conceptual Proposol

We reflected on students' eating priorities, and then we explored various ideas, including a social media app, a canteen, a pop-up food stall, and a vending machine. Based on our research we concluded that the vending machine was the most suitable option to deliver our proposed solution.


Concept Storyboard

Using the research findings, we created low-fidelity storyboards to illustrate the key use cases of the vending machine within the university’s micro-environment. 

Imagine you are running late for school

Too many people in canteen

You stumble across a vending machine

User Testing - Information Architecture and Tree Test

Direct successful paths in the single menu were 0.5 seconds faster than the categories menu

Non-native English (NNE) speakers were 4.9 seconds quicker than English speakers to complete both tasks on the categories menu.

This is reinforced by the feedback survey where NNE speakers found it much easier (8.8 to 6.75) to complete the two tasks

First Interface Design 

Information page (option 2).jpg

Main Menu page's Result of Eye Tracking - User Testing 


The chart shows that the food menu and food things get the most attention. At first, we thought the part with the recommendations would get the most attention because it stood out and had a different color background. But the result shows that it's not true. Also, most people wouldn't be interested in voice ordering.

Details page's Result of Eye Tracking - User Testing 


It was surprising that most people noticed the 'cart' sign, as shown in the heat map. Here are the buttons for things like "Buy now" and "Add to cart".Even though the nutrition section is in the middle, users didn't spend much time on it, as the thin green layer on the map shows. On the other hand, they looked at the item's picture and the "Goes with" part.

Feedback from Survey - User Testing 

Feedback from Survey - User Testing 


Location Choice


Video Recording for User Testing 

Model Vending Machine Test

The information is overwhelming, I don’t feel like reading it.

I’m not aware of the four collection points as it is different from the normal VM.


It’s cool to see things that go with my choice

Insightful Comments from User


Time Limitation

Reading small details seems like a task to do when there is time in question. I feel like there is no time to be realizing nutritional value while I am ordering.

Different Purpose

My only goal is to get done with the process (order the food I want to eat). I didn't pay mind to the nutritional information since there was only one item I was going to get.

We love Vending Machine

There is potential to provide food anywhere and not just snacks/ bottled drinks. I always like using a vending machine that I come across that is so convenient and has food.

High Fidelity Design


Key Take Aways 

  • A single menu is easier to navigate

  • Nutritional or calorie intake must be shared early and be easy to compare with other options 

  • Placing vending machines in locations where students are likely to be under academic stress could encourage long-term habit improvement

  • Voice enabled vending machines are more effective in locations with low footfall.

Future Goals

  • Further information testing.

  • Technical aspects of moving the food within the Vending machine

  • Feasibility of heating up food within the vending machine

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