User Research – Interviews and the Emergence of the Personas

Over Skype and Liz’s Mobile Phone we conducted a couple of interviews using the Critical Incident Technique about positive times they have had with dieting … 

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iPad on a MacBook Pro…. Steve Jobs please send us down some good vibes.



  • Some people don’t give a damn about what the food is, pack it full of nutrients and they’ll consume it
  • Others are more picky, they need to make sure their food is from safe sources as they have problems preventing cross contamination with other food stuffs and have to trust food labelling although they let things slide for the sake of convenience
  • Allergies/Intolerances and health issues are a major motivator of diet change


Ms X

– 24 years old, Coeliac, Sydney AU, Part Time Employed at 2 different jobs

– Had to attempt the Elimination Diet as a teenager to ascertain what was causing her symptoms (Coeliac disease symptoms are aggravated by the gluten protein in wheat).

– Several barriers in finding the ideal nutrition- nutritionists were super expensive, she mostly learnt what food was good from going to places on the internet

– She was trying to gain weight, but due to lack of information, and dairy intolerance, her two main sources of fat were avocados and coconut milk (Coeliac is often associated with severe weight loss)

– First 6 months of diet was hard, smell was very important as she was often tempted by sausage rolls especially, until she found some good alternatives, but this took time. She is often lazy because of this, ignoring the gluten warnings about soy sauce, if she has only a little bit each week she can effectively control her symptoms.

– She was motivated by physical restrictions (wanting to avoid vomiting everywhere) and fearing the side effects of malnutrition

– She now only tries new food serendipitously, buys anything with a Gluten Free label on it (being able to now withstand some dairy). She (unlike our survey respondents) is less likely to splurge and try some new food at a restaurant because there is a sizeable risk of cross contamination of food stuffs

– When she is feeling like she wants to indulge, she will only seek safe sources that are trusted, reluctant to use those that are new (and might therefore suck and not know how to correctly handle the delicate balance of gluten free flour mixes, thinking they might just be straight replacements)

– Loves the idea of a 3D printer for her food stuffs as special dietary food is extremely expensive and is risky in terms of whether it’s edible or not. Wants to experience the joys of easy hangover food that she can eat!


Mr Y

26 year old International Student in Scandinavia, Unemployed.

– Diet modifications were mainly made out of concern due to family health background (a mix of eating disorders affecting the females of his family, and obesity affecting the men). Has noticed metabolism isn’t as good as it used to be.

– Weight did stabilise, but this was also affected by environment. Australian cafe food is wide and varied whereas in his university it is not and it’s very expensive ($25 for cake and coffee is unheard of even in Sydney) forcing him to cook at home, mainly frozen meals as there is not a large amount of seasonal foods available. Sweden also has a carbon tax which prevents him being able to afford large amounts of imported fresh produce. Liz offered to send him Tony Abbott to help him out.

– He won’t try new foods as he doesn’t often know what to do with them and it isn’t worth the financial risk (which was repeated in our survey data) and will only incorporate new food or techniques once it has been shown to him at a dinner party for example.

– We showed him the pictures from the previous survey, he hated the look of the 3D printed “shit biscuits”, commented that he was in favour of Soylent (a supplement drink) even though the taste is somewhat horrible. Bacon and eggs was his favourite picture, very simple.

– Very open to new technology, doesn’t believe in organic produce saving the world, believes we need to develop new ways to nourish ourselves adequately and is in favour of sacrificing taste for nutrients. Can be swayed by the exoticism of 3D printing in order to invest

Mr Z

21 year old IT Student, part time tech support in Sydney.

– No real positive diet experience. Went on a diet to gain weight in order to bulk up muscle but wanted to do it cheaply, he canvassed many forums on the internet until he found one that could give him a straight information sheet or require a gym that he followed for a month before his studies overcame his desire to follow the exercise and meal plan.

– In order to provide the prerequisite protein needed, he ate one 250 g bag of peanuts each day. When Liz pressed him on this, having been told by a nutritionist once that almonds have more protein in terms of carbohydrate. Mr Z refuted this, but claimed he didn’t care anyway as he REALLY dislikes the taste of almonds. When Ro pressed him about this he interestingly claimed that he “wouldn’t care if it was just a gel or puree”.

– When presented with the pictures he was the only one we had ever asked who actually preferred the photoshopped apple because “it’s an apple, I know what I’m getting, I don’t like to try new food, the last time I tried a new food was probably an oyster, and that was because I was with friends in a restaurant. And also it was an oyster”

– Stopped his diet also out of lost confidence, didn’t think his plan was working and abandoned it. Bill? $75 on dumbbells of 20 kg from Rebel sport.


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