Providing healthier food options for students in need at San Diego City College
CampusEats mobile app

Field research
Affinity diagramming


User testing
Usability testing
Design iterations
Visual design

The problem

As a San Diego City College student I experienced the challenges of getting affordable, healthy lunch in Downtown in between long classes. The cafeteria on campus has been closed for renovation for more than three years. Nearby food options are limited, unhealthy, and overpriced.

How might we provide healthier and affordable food options for students in need at San Diego City College?

The solution

Using IDEO’s human-centered design process my teammate and I designed CampusEats, a food delivery app that partners with local grocery stores to provide healthier food options at a low cost for students.

Jump to CampusEats prototype ↓
My Role

UX researcher
Product designer
Visual designer




Carol Taira
Betty Lau


Interviews & field research

We began by conducting thorough research to create the foundation for our design solution. We crafted an interview guide to learn about personal details, needs, motivations, frustrations, and interactions from different types of people, places, and situations.

Users to learn from

City College students who get lunch on campus or nearby

Experts to speak to

Nutritionist from Family Health Centers of San Diego

Emergency Food Pantry

In-context immersion

Mesa Commons cafeteria at Mesa College

Students getting lunch

Analogous inspiration

Massdrop: community-driven commerce platform

Gustin: crowdsourced fashion

Weekly schedule of a busy student being interviewed for CampusEats research

Many students, like this one, have busy schedules with very little time to cook and eat.

Emergency Food Pantry at San Diego City CollegeMesa Commons at Mesa College

We visited the Emergency Food Pantry at City College to learn how they help students in need in addition to Mesa Commons to observe how students’ needs were met.

Affinity diagramming

We used affinity diagramming to organize our findings from the interviews, identify key themes, and create insight statements. Then we developed “How might we” questions to define opportunities for design that were differentiated and generative.

CampusEats affinity diagram
  • Students consider a meal of $5–7 ideal whereas $10 is too expensive.
  • Students want to pay the least amount of money for the most filling and nutritious meal.
  • Current food options on campus are not worth their money, but students resort to them when desperate.
How might we keep the cost low while offering high quality food?
Wholesome diet
  • Students want fresh, nutritious, and tasty food options.
  • Students consider sandwiches, wraps, rice bowls, and pasta to be wholesome and nutritious.
  • Students prioritize cost over organic when purchasing food.
How might we offer a variety of fresh, wholesome food options?
  • Students are very busy so they want nearby food options that are quick and easy to buy and eat.
  • Students are reluctant to take long breaks (over 30 minutes) because of school work.
  • Students often multitask while eating.
How might we speed up getting and eating a meal?



During our brainstorming session we generated as many ideas as possible related to our three “How might we” questions and narrowed them down to what we thought was the most innovative and likely to succeed.

At first we were thinking along the lines of GrubHub but with mass ordering to receive a discount from restaurant partners and pass on the savings to students; however, delivery fees and tipping would still be a deterrent. So I came up with the idea to pivot to grocery stores instead since a variety of healthy food options is readily available that is a lot more affordable than restaurant entrees.

And thus CampusEats was born: a food delivery app that lets students order lunch from nearby grocery stores such as Albertsons, Grocery Outlet, Ralphs, and Smart & Final.

These grocery stores have click-and-collect in-store pickup programs so the infrastructure already exists and would seamlessly integrate with our service. Unlike Uber Eats and Postmates, CampusEats doesn’t charge exorbitant delivery fees because a student volunteer does a single mass pickup and delivery straight to a designated spot on campus, saving students time and money.

1. Order

Students order lunch by 11:00 am.

2. Pickup

A student volunteer picks up all lunch orders from the nearby grocery stores.

3. Delivery

Students get their lunches on campus at 12:30 pm.

Visual design

We created a storyboard to visualize the end-to-end experience a user would have with CampusEats.

The user


Amanda is a 23-year-old student who buys food on campus almost every day.


CampusEats flyer

She gets handed a flyer on the way to her morning class that promotes the CampusEats app.

Initial purchase

Amanda wonders what she's going to eat for lunch

It’s 9:35 am. She’s sitting in class already hungry. She downloads the app and places her order.

Transaction complete

Delivery person gives Amanda her lunch order on campus

At 12:30 pm the delivery person arrives on campus with all the orders. Amanda gets her lunch.


Amanda eats her sandwich

She sits down and eats her sandwich during the break in between her classes.


Amanda places her next order on the CampusEats app

She happily browses through the CampusEats app and places her order for tomorrow.

Prototyping & user testing

We rapidly tested a low-fidelity paper prototype with users to validate the initial concept of the app and gather feedback early in the process.

Then we prepared usability test scripts and conducted four series of usability tests with eight students, which helped us identity pain points and moments of delight, improving each design iteration.

Order screen

CampusEats order screens

Filter screen

CampusEats filter screens

Product screen

CampusEats product screens

Confirmation screen

CampusEats confirmation screens

On time/late screens

CampusEats on time/late screens

Visual design

We designed CampusEats to be intuitive, light, and airy. The logo is conceptually striking; the color palette is appetizing and fresh; typography is both humanist and modern; and food photography is clean and vibrant.

App icon

CampusEats app icon



Cabin typeface


CampusEats food photography

Final prototype

View CampusEats prototype on InVision →
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