Product Designer
Timeline: Sep - Dec 2022
Team: 1 Researcher, 1 PM, 2 Designers
Tools: Figma

DubGrub Rewards

A point-based reward system that encourages students to order sustainable foods from on campus dining.

I’ve always wanted to use my design skills to make a real difference. Working with the University of Washington's Housing and Food Services, I led a project that encourages students to choose sustainable eating options and helps them learn more about climate change. We updated the old food ordering system by adding a rewards program that motivates students to make greener choices every time they eat on campus. This project not only makes it easier for students to eat sustainably but also gets them involved in a bigger conversation about their environmental impact.

Project Overview


How can we design a system that promotes and incentivizes climate-conscious food choices among UW students who order food from on-campus dining establishments?


We created a prototype for UW’s food ordering platform that encourages students to choose sustainable foods by ranking each options and awarding points for healthy choices.

Design Brief

From concept to final product in just 8 weeks ✿

In a short amount of time, we built a complete final product based on the idea of ‘sustainable eating’. We conducted user research, brainstormed concepts, completed several rounds of design iteration, conducted usability testing, and eventually finalized the product. Fortunately, we had great stakeholders, and all of our participants were excellent in providing feedback.

Here is a rough timeline of how we broke down this project:

Research Overview

What we did to get insights from users

Contextual Inquiries
We conducted contextual inquiry as one of the research method to better understand users’ thought processes while ordering food and how these thoughts relate to sustainable food choices.

Online Survey
We distributed an online quantitative survey through our personal networks to gather data from a broader, geographically diverse population. The survey focused on participants' student status, dining habits, diet makeup, willingness to adjust food group consumption, concern about climate change, factors influencing food choices, and potential motivators for making more sustainable food decisions.

Field Interviews
We conducted brief interviews with randomly selected students on the UW campus, each lasting 3-5 minutes. Our approach included primarily open-ended questions, supplemented by queries seeking suggestions for potential solutions. We emphasized follow-up questions tailored to the responses provided, aiming to delve into issues directly related to our design questions.

What we learned from research

During our initial generative research, in both our qualitative field interviews and quantitative online survey, we learned that price, convenience, and familiarity were the three most important food factors out of the eight that we presented to participants.

We used these three aforementioned high-ranking factors to build our personas and, in turn, guide our designs. At a high level, we wanted to align these factors with our project’s goal of encouraging more climate-conscious decisions.

Thus, we prioritized 3 key design solutions from the insights we learned:

1. Incentivize users by utilizing a points-based rewards system - Encouraging students to order more sustainable foods especially when they consider price and convenience as their top factors when choosing what to eat.

2. Implement rewards to existing student card accounts - Enabling tracking for food orders and associated rewards points while ensuring familiarity for the users.

3. Integrate the rewards page and food ordering platform - Facilitating a seamless experience that connects the related tasks of ordering food and earning rewards.

Final Design Solution

Feature 1: Understand how DubGrub Rewards works.

This feature is designed to welcome and onboard users—specifically UW students—at the time of launch. It familiarizes them with recent updates and new features, providing a clear explanation of how the rewards program operates.

Feature 2: Choose more sustainable foods.

Enhances user engagement by allowing them to customize their selections before adding an item to the cart. During this customization process, an overlay presents comparisons that show how different options affect the item’s sustainability rating and the potential rewards points users can earn.

Additionally, we provide insightful messages detailing the item’s environmental impact, including statistics on water consumption, land usage, and carbon emissions, helping users make more informed choices.

Feature 3: Redeem rewards for free food.

Enables users to redeem rewards during checkout. On the checkout page, users can view available rewards based on their current points balance. When they opt to use a reward, the points are immediately applied to their cart, and the rewards balance is updated to reflect the redemption.

This seamless process ensures users can easily benefit from their accrued rewards and thus gradually change their eating behavior when ordering through this platform.

Wait... you might be wondering, how did we get to here?

Let me show you some process and artifacts ☺


Low fidelity sketches & ideas.

We ideated and sketched out possible user flows and user journeys, then from the best concepts, we sketched out wireframes. We want to push ourselves to empathize with users as well as think more creatively and critically about our solution.

Initial Prototyping

Initial medium fidelity wireframes & concept testing

After initial brainstorming with sketches, we translated top concept sketches into mid-fi prototypes and created several design options for the carbon tracking and budgeting dashboard, as this would be the most important screen for users to adapt to this new integration. We brainstormed several design options and selected a few for user testing.

Testing & Iteration

Usability testing: findings & iterations

We conducted non-guided observational usability tests with 7 individuals, testing 2 primary user flows: one as an initial onboarding introduction task and the other as a food ordering flow. We aimed to assess clarity, comprehension, and completion.

We replaced the carbon dashboard with a rewards page and added a points system explanation at the top of the page. To ensure clarity, we supplemented visuals with text and other cues, avoiding reliance solely on color to communicate information.

Moreover, we completely reorganized and redesigned the sustainable grading system by enlarging the icons and making their visual design easier to comprehend. With the information hierarchy revamped, users can now redeem points more clearly and apply rewards directly during checkout.

Final Prototype

Want to try it out yourself?

Have fun with the clickable prototype we built using Figma below ☺

✿ Lesson Learned ✿

01: Don't jump to high-fi too early :(

You might have noticed that we created quite high-fidelity wireframes for the concept and usability testing stages. Although I defined them as medium fidelity, you can tell they are almost fully designed. We spent too much time on craftsmanship before actually deciding on a direction. Next time, remember, low-fi and mid-fi exist for a reason!

02: Always stick with project scope :>

We got a bit carried away during the ideation stage, generating numerous sketches and wild ideas that went beyond our scope. This meant we had to spend extra time refining and narrowing down to the ideal solutions. It's totally fine to be creative, but it's important to keep the whole picture in mind.

03: TALK to users!!

For this project, it was a bit unique as all designers and researchers fit our user persona. Initially, we assumed and guessed users' preferences and pain points based on our own experiences. This approach was completely wrong and led us in the wrong direction. After actually talking with real users and random students at campus dining, we learned so much that we didn't know. Talk with your users – you will be stunned by what you discover.

Last but not the least...

Meet the team! ☺☺☺

Team UX-traordinary. From left to right: Maomao, Mar, Swathi, Alex.

Say hi and let's create something amazing together!
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