Food Flip

Flipping Out for Beautiful UX & UI

Branding, UX/UI

In 2016 the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto initiated a project to develop an app to study how the Canadian public would respond to nutrition profiling – defined as the “science of classifying or ranking foods according to their nutritional composition for reasons related to preventing disease and promoting health”.

The team at the University of Toronto had created, over the period of many years, a large independent packaged food database. This database contains over 15,000 unique food items from top grocers in the Canadian marketplace and they wanted to leverage this database to power the app.

The first step of the project was to create a name and brand for the new app. Over the course of several meetings, we lead a brainstorming process through many ideas and concepts for the app brand. Eventually, we developed the name “FoodFlip” with a stylized grocery cart graphically displaying an “F” and an upside-down “F” representing the name of the app. The branding represented the concept of the user switching, or “flipping”, to healthier food items while in the process of grocery shopping.

The app itself, built on the iOS and Android platforms, and available in English and French, allows the user to immediately look up nutritional information on a food or beverage they may wish to purchase. The app allows the user to scan the barcode of the food or beverage item using the smartphone camera within the app or by searching for the product using the built-in search tool.

The barcode or search criteria is processed by the app and sent to the central database holding over 15,000 unique food items. Each product in the database has been rated by a nutrient profiling algorithm that considers nutrients such as saturated fat, sodium, and sugar as well as other nutrients and ingredients including protein, fibre, fruits, and vegetables. The results from the algorithm are calculated and sent back to the app where they are presented to the user in a clear and simple graphical representation. For the public use of the app, this representation is a traffic light (red, yellow, green), with healthier choices highlighted in green.

The benefit of requiring the app to connect to a centralized database of food items is three-fold. First, as new items enter the market, they can be added to the database with the corresponding nutritional information. Secondly, if the nutritional data on a food item is modified, this can be adjusted in the database. Lastly, the algorithm calculating the nutritional value of a food item can be adjusted and improved over time. This ensures a quality nutritional database without the need to modify or update the app.

Food Flip

The app was launched in the fall of 2016 and has been hugely successful. The app is still active and provides users with up-to-date nutritional information on the food and beverages they consume while, at the same time, providing the team at the University of Toronto important information to help in their ongoing research on how to continually improve the nutritional health of Canadians.

Food Flip