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Saving Dough

A financial goal tracking app for chefs




I propose a cost budgeting application that would work cross-platform and allow chefs, ranging from residential to commercial, access to easy meal planning and budgeting. The app allows for the user to build a library of recipes, from both existing recipes found online to individually entered entries. Each recipe has a certain cost associated to it based on a standard amount of servings, so the app automatically recommends users combinations of meals to fit their specified financial goals and dietary restrictions.

Customize parameters based on users' personal financial income/expenses and goal planning needs

Project Focus


Manage budget breakdown

Sort activity by income/ expense categories

Set savings goal(s)


10-week mobile app concept

My Role

UX Research 

UI Designer

Project Type

Independent School Based


Adobe XD

Design Process

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Competitive Analysis

This section analyzes two types of competitors featured across all mobile and web platforms: Apps focused on budget and financial planning, and cooking and recipe management. Competitors are divided into two main components: Strengths and weaknesses.

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  • Short- and long-term financial goal planning, with goal contribution amounts automatically added to monthly budgets.

  • Flexible budget settings include automatically suggested amounts based on spending history, with the option to adjust and customize budget amounts.


  • One goal per savings account prevents the ability to create and track multiple saving goals within one account.

  • Predefined spending categorizations may not fit one's budget habits, requiring ongoing review and maintenance to ensure properly labeling.

  • Budget expenses assigned categories based on transaction type, however, to improve accuracy, edit features include options for renaming and recategorizing.

  • Ease of use, with visually appealing graphs to track expenses and goal savings.


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Fillet for Chefs


  • Form ongoing partnership(s) with different suppliers to buy and repurchase ingredients

  • Covers all aspects from creating recipe inventory to ordering from suppliers


  • The app's tracking of wastage and spoilage, a vital expense for culinary businesses, limited to paid users of iOS devices only.

  • Full access to the app's features dependent on web or mobile device.

  • Automatic calculations provide reliable, accurate budgetary figures

  • Deductions of ingredient amounts saves time manually counting inventory without the hassle

  • Not many apps have similar concepts for recipe collecting and direct ordering


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  • Google Calendar style view organizes and projects at a glance upcoming bills and expenses, whether one-time or on repeat.


  • Free version limited to maximum of 12 budgets: Full benefits available for a subscription cost

  • Visual dashboards and color-coded charts and graphs to review personal earnings and spending habits.

  • Learning the app's full functions and features takes time to master

  • Budget for the future with weekly, monthly, or annual cash flow forecasts

  • "What-if" scenarios feature projects short- and long term effects for outcomes such as one-time payments, and income decreases

Design Process

Aesthetic Inspiration


Nutrition and Diet App

  • Categories are organized into clean, grey-colored boxes, simplifying food classifications.

  • Type notes to plan ingredients for meal prep with the interactive calendar. 

  • Choose calories or units of measurement for individual ingredients. Arrows next to be headings indicate each section can be personalized. 


Perfect Recipes App

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  • Nutritional information per serving is presented as a clock dial with numbers and units. 

  • Recipe highlights provide options to upload a photograph for a given meal, and list ingredients using different colors to distinguish missing ingredients to replenish. 

  • Filter customization features interactive options including clickable boxes and a scrollable timeline.

Kick Off Meeting

The following questions aimed to learn more about the projected target audience while determining the vision and goals of the app.

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Target Market

The user population was originally targeted to chefs in management and food industry consumers. Based on interviewing the target market, the app was refocused to home chefs, including professionals in the restaurant business and individuals who cook for leisure.

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Interview Results

Empathy Maps

Empathy map interviews identified common grocery shopping experiences and the financial struggles that followed.

Key Takeaways

  • Half of the interviewees consider buying in bulk as an investment for future meals

  • All interviewees expressed Amazon as their primary shopping due to positive user engagement and usability.

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Design Process

Personas and Journey Maps

Persona One

After conducting interviews, user personas were based on fictionalized characters representative of the target market population, gathered to understand the motivations, and needs of potential app testers. Empathy maps and user journey maps compliment personas, giving insight into the target markets’ thinking processes, decision making, and experience with the app.

Target Demograhic

Expert restaurant chef professionals in the hospitality business

Novice cooking enthusiasts

Design Process

Primary Persona

User Journey

To optimize a seamless user experience for beginner plant owners, and identify app feature shortcomings early in the design process, I visualized Sara’s step by step process to complete a common plant care and locator task and define screens to achieve a specific goal.

User Flow

Putting myself in the shoes of the primary user, I mapped out a flow chart to illustrate a break down of actions taken.


Problem Statement

Sara is a new plant owner who needs help identifying an unfamiliar native plant and schedules task reminders in her calendar to plan care maintenance in advance.


Design Process

Usability Testing

Three usability tests were conducted to gain feedback on the app’s functionality and users’ ability to conduct task scenarios using high-fidelity prototypes via InVision.


• You’ve received a California native plant as a housewarming gift, but there is no barcode or label with information on the plant name. You need to first, identify your new plant, in order to learn the care tasks you will take to keep it alive.

 • Your week is busy with back-to-back meetings and you need to prepare your schedule for the week ahead. You need to see which plant care tasks need to be completed or are already done for each day of the week.

• You need to edit the ‘add fertilizer’ care task reminder in your Calendar to pause this activity while you go away on vacation.

 • Your plant leaves are beginning to turn brown and you’d like to reach out to your local community to ask for help in identifying what the cause may be.

 • I’d like you to search and identify native plants by season.

Rainbow Spreadsheet

User feedback and observations were organized into a rainbow spreadsheet, identifying iterations to prioritize in the app’s redesign of high-fidelity prototypes.


Key Findings

• Confusion with page layout to initiate tasks (i.e. taking a new photo; identifying search bar and plant database feature; finding the pause feature in the calendar settings) 

 • Unclear if the care calendar showed tasks for one or all plants

Design Process

Usability Testing

Usability testing was conducted with a small group virtually to observe interviewees’ reactions and pain points with the design of the persona’s user flow and first prototype iteration.  Findings revealed improvements to prioritize in the app’s higher fidelity prototype design and user flow.

Participants were asked the following tasks:

•  Sign into your account and add a plant to allow for instant identification

•  Set a new reoccurring reminder in the Care Calendar


Key Takeaways

Task One

• Two out of three users used the search bar to identify plants by name, but consulted scanning a photo or barcode; Database feature better suited for seasoned plant owners

• Camera functions of interest-Cancel button to return to homepage; Hover and scan plant without taking photo or saving

• Add a questionnaire during the sign up process for a customized homepage that meets the needs of new/seasoned plant owners.

Task Two

•  Two out of three users preferred to sync care schedule to personal calendars, while one user found this feature confusing; assumed tasks were automatically populated. 

• A chat with live representative was favored by two users, though further clarification between calendar/chat features are needed. 

• Weather by zip code for temperature updates, and distinctions between healthy/unhealthy plants and revising calendar care tasks for sick plants were considered.

Information Architecture

Card Sorting

Findings from the feature prioritization and persona user flows helped anticipate how the user would interact with the app. Content was sorted and organized into grouped categories using the open card sorting method.


Site Map

The card sorting design results were used to create a sitemap to show a structured heirarchy with connections to each app’s screens.


Design Process

Proposed Solutions

Key Learnings

A second round of usability testing observed how users interacted with features in the app, and seeked to learn if user pain points in the newly revised designs had been resolved.  


Findings showed 

Increased responsiveness and minimal confusion identifying a plant, and pausing/snoozing task in the care calendar.

Plant Database


Majority of tested users hesitated to access the 'Plant Database' feature, gravitating towards 'Library' in the navigation bar rather than use the plus icon to reveal 'search by plant name.'


Remove 'Search' function from 'Add New Plant' feature to refocus section on camera functions


Clearer site navigation labels; Change from 'Library to 'Search' for more direct access

Care Calendar


Overall, tested users expressed interest in clearer distinctions between which tasks belonged to specific plants when identifying plant tasks for a given timeframe.


Pause feature in Care Calendar


Users experienced confusion, asking for more clarification between 'Date/Time' and 'Need a Break?' sections. This task showed a need for a full redesign of the user experience and content structure to refocus on the Snooze/Pause process.


Take a new photo


Testing observed users not correlating the plus icon under 'My Plants' with accessing the phone's camera to take a new photo, showing a need for a page layout redesign.


Micro-Interaction to 'Add a New Plant'


When reevaluating users' experiences with the camera feature to scan a new plant or barcode, I developed this UI animation storyboard concept to improve the targeted audience's ability to complete the photo identification task.

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Reflections and Next Steps

Challenges During Ideation


Concept One

Virtual chat with an expert for personalized recommendations

Reason: Users preferred to ask questions on a community forum

Concept Two

 Interactive map to locate available inventory of native plants

Reason: Focus gravitated towards care assistance for already purchased plants

Concept Three

Digital encyclopedia and beginner plant guides

Reason: App refocused on taking new photos to identify unknown plant

What I Learned


Importance of continued prototype testing to gain feedback from the targeted audience to guide app adjustments


Ideation helped to focus app development of finding creative pro-active solutions while prioritizing user needs

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