Taste Like

Taste Like

Taste Like

Web / UX Research / Interaction Design / Visual Design / No-code development

💡

Role

Lead Product Designer & Bubble Developer

Team

Co-founders, Product Category Managers

Links

Taste-like.com

Timeline

September 2022 - April 2023

Tools

Figma, Bubble.io

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Company: Taste Like is the world’s first comprehensive open-source alternative protein products directory, helping consumers transition to alternatives.
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Problem: Consumers struggle to discover and decide which alternative protein products to try.
Outcome: Successful launch of the website, featuring intuitive nutritional information, filtering options, a comparison tool, reviews, a company directory, and a discussion forum.

Final design

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Problem

Amidst the increasing variety of alternative protein products flooding the market, consumers encounter the challenge of sifting through vast information and deciding which ones to try.

Why it matters: Decision paralysis can hinder consumers from making confident choices, leading to unsatisfactory experiences with new products.

  • A solution to this would help drive the adoption of alternative protein products, benefiting both consumers and the industry.

Research

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Goals
  • Gauge consumer sentiment towards alternative protein products.
  • Identify critical considerations for consumers when buying alt-protein items.
  • Uncover pain points experienced on current platforms.
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Participants
  • 11 survey respondents.
  • 6 individuals for follow-up interviews.
  • Age range: 18-64 years.
  • Prior experience with alternative protein products.
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Methodology

1. Survey

Image: Google Form featuring a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended queries to delve into attitudes and identify issues related to alt protein products.
Image: Google Form featuring a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended queries to delve into attitudes and identify issues related to alt protein products.

2. User Interview

Video: Co-founder and I engaging in 30-minute remote user interviews.
Video: Co-founder and I engaging in 30-minute remote user interviews.

Findings

Survey

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Eco-conscious: 10 out of 11 respondents cited animal welfare as the primary reason for purchasing alternative protein products.
  • 9 out of 11 also considered environmental sustainability.
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Taste, Cost, and Nutrition: Respondents prioritized taste as the primary factor in purchasing alt-protein products.
  • Followed by cost and then nutritional content and ingredients.
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Pain points: Respondents cited a lack of information and transparency.
  • “Lack of impartial information about taste and quality of the product”
  • “Lack of ingredient transparency”
  • “Method of processing and extraction are usually not disclosed…”

Interview

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Hard to discover new products
“There aren’t a lot of products to try in grocery stores, and the information online about new products is hard to filter out.” - Justin, Student
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Gap in existing alt protein directories
Proteindirectory.com allows you to search for companies, but products are not listed directly on the page.” - Steve, Investor
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Filtering allergens
“Many people have allergies to specific alt proteins, so it would be good to have a simple method for filtering allergens.” - Laura, Food Technologist

Affinity Mapping

After gathering qualitative responses from the survey and interviews, I organized them into an affinity diagram and identified several key themes.

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Persona
🤔

Kiran Patel, 22 - The Adventurous Flexitarian

Dietary preference: Flexitarian

Background: Kiran has transitioned from a meat diet to a flexitarian diet (primarily plant-based, with the occasional inclusion of meat). -

  • This dietary choice is driven by a desire to reduce their personal carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the environment.

Behavior: Kiran is an adventurous consumer, always looking for the latest alternative protein products.

  • They check reviews on Google and Amazon, and pay close attention to product labels, especially looking out for gluten-free and fair-trade certifications.

Pain points: Kiran often finds the reviews insufficient for making informed decisions, and the taste of plant proteins can vary significantly, leading to unexpected meal experiences.

"Before trying a new product, I read reviews, check the ingredients, and look for certifications. It's not just about what's in the food, it's also about what the company stands for."
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Recommendations

After gathering insights from the surveys and interviews, I came up with the following recommendations for our new alternative protein directory:

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Nutritional information: Provide clear, concise, and easily understandable nutritional information.
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Filters: Incorporate filters to enable users to refine their search based on specific criteria like allergens, ingredients, product type, etc.
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Comparison tool: Offer a comparison tool that allows users to evaluate different products based on their nutritional information and ingredients.
Reviews: Include a feature for users to share their honest reviews about products, providing valuable insights for other users.
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Discussion forum: Foster a sense of community and transparency by having a dedicated space where users can engage in discussions about taste, nutrition, and preparation methods of alternative protein products.
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Company directory: Create a comprehensive company directory that not only lists their products, but also provides insights into their mission, values, and commitment to sustainability.

Vision

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A user-friendly directory of innovative alternative protein products, complete with nutritional information, ingredient lists, authentic reviews, and discussions.

Prioritization

Given the fast-paced nature of our startup, we employed a user value vs. effort prioritization matrix. This decision-making tool helped us objectively assess and decide which features would yield the highest user value relative to the effort required for their development, ensuring optimal resource allocation and strategic focus.

User Value vs. Effort prioritization matrix
User Value vs. Effort prioritization matrix

Discussion Forum

I worked on the end-to-end design and development of the discussion forum while my co-founder worked on the other features. Below, I explain some of the key design decisions I made.

1. Discussion Cards

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📰
Readability: Discussion cards have a max width of 640px to ensure line lengths are < 95 characters (incl. spaces), enhancing readability.
  • While this expands the vertical real estate, its impact is mitigated by limiting the discussion text preview height to 250px.
  • This ensures discussion cards don't consume excessive vertical space while still providing users with a sufficient preview of the post before they decide to click into the discussion.
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Visual hierarchy: Key information essential for scanning discussion cards is strategically placed at the top.
  • This includes user details and timestamp, the discussion title alongside the category tag, and any relevant product tags.
  • This layout allows users to scan pertinent details at a glance quickly.
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Right-aligned upvotes

Upvotes are right-aligned, providing visual distinction from the comment, share, and save buttons.

  • This alignment not only encourages user engagement—akin to a 'continue' button on the edge of a dialog/modal—but also enhances scannability, particularly when navigating through different comment levels in the comment section.
Right-aligned upvotes can be easily scanned regardless of comment indentation.
Right-aligned upvotes can be easily scanned regardless of comment indentation.

2. Inline Tagging

Quick and accurate product referencing: Typing '#' in the comments triggers a dropdown menu, providing users direct access to Taste Like's extensive product database.
  • This feature facilitates swift and accurate product referencing.
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Enhanced product discoverability: Inline tagging enhances product discoverability.
  • By clicking on the highlighted tag, users are seamlessly directed to the respective product page, creating a seamless and user-friendly exploration process.

3. Top Mentioned Products Sidebar

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Quick snapshot: At a single glance, users can readily observe which products are generating buzz in the discussion, alongside the frequency of their mentions.
  • This feature offers a snapshot of key products that the discussion is focusing on, thereby promoting an efficient and guided browsing experience.
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Quick context: The arrows adjacent to each product card function similarly to a 'CTRL+F' command, enabling users to swiftly navigate to comments referencing the respective product.
  • This feature facilitates immediate context acquisition and understanding, enhancing the user's product comprehension.

Reflection

Working within the dynamic environment of a startup focused on an emerging market — alternative proteins — was an exciting experience. I gained a deeper understanding of the diverse technologies employed in the alternative proteins sector and their potential to contribute to environmental sustainability significantly. The startup culture also allowed me to propose innovative ideas, such as the discussion forum, and the opportunity to bring these ideas to life using tools like Bubble.io.

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Research methods: While formulating our research strategy for initial product validation, I struggled to decide between different types of qualitative vs. quantitative research methods.
  • Given our startup's dynamic environment, aggressive timelines, and finite resources, a qualitative research approach was the most suitable choice.
  • I devoted considerable effort to structuring the survey, aiming to achieve an optimal balance between quantitative measures, such as Likert scales and ratings, and qualitative, open-ended responses.
  • Perhaps new AI tools like Merlin could revolutionize the landscape of open-ended surveys.
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Bubble.io development: Learning to use Bubble.io (no-code platform) proved to be quite challenging, especially because the UI was not very user-friendly.
  • At first, I thought Bubble's "drag and drop" editor would make things easier, but it was quite tricky. Despite the minimal coding, this process improved my computational thinking skills.
  • My existing coding expertise proved beneficial, particularly when I had to supplement Bubble's capabilities with custom JavaScript and CSS to achieve certain functionalities.
  • Overall, I'm thankful that I got the chance to learn this new skill, and I even used it to build my own college marketplace app.
⚖️
Constraints and tradeoffs: The development process in Bubble.io was riddled with constraints that required creative workarounds.
  • At times, certain features were not feasible due to development complexities or potential performance degradation. Wearing both the developer and designer hats enabled me to balance the complexity of my design against aesthetics and functionality.
  • This experience honed my ability to make informed trade-offs, considering not only the user experience but also the technical feasibility and business implications of design decisions.

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