.: 22 January 2015 :.
Case Study: Redesigning the Mealbox
Back in March 2012, Sander Dijkhuis and I decided to explore the relation of a product and it’s packaging. The day before we started designing, I was preparing a meal using a mealbox. This box contained some of the ingredients and instructions on how to prepare the meal and aimed to make the cooking process quicker and easier. During the preparation, I tried to follow the instructions step by step but I was constantly lost in the cooking process. I ended up mixing the wrong ingredients, at the wrong moment even though I read the instructions over and over again. This bad experience motivated us to redesign meal boxes.
While preparing the meal, I tried to follow the instructions step by step but I was constantly lost in the cooking process.
We bought various available meal boxes, used them, and analyzed the experience. We noticed room for improvement in two areas. Firstly, our interaction flows showed that utilizing the meal box and preparing the meal were two processes. For a better experience, these two processes had to be executed in parallel. There was a clear opportunity in improving the interaction flow. Secondly the visual communication of the boxes had a negative influence on our experience. The recipe was barely legible and the uninviting, industrial look of the ingredients took away all our hunger.
We decided to tackle both issues: the interaction flow and the visual communication. Our solution was to integrate the unboxing of the box into the meal preparation process, only uncovering ingredients and instructions when they become relevant. Collaboratively we created paper prototypes to explore the interactions with the ingredients and instructions.
Our solution was to integrate the unboxing of the box into the meal preparation process, only uncovering ingredients and instructions when they become relevant.
As opposed to the exploration of the interaction design, we started the visual design process separately. After the first iteration we shared our ideas and continued working together. Eventually we used earthy tones, playful typography and photos of real food to create an honest, iconic and playful visual style that aimed to make people more hungry.
Once we had built a package we evaluated the concept with some test subjects. Our test subjects were people who regularly cooked with food packages and acknowledged the bad experience they often have.
The participants clearly enjoyed using the product and recognized the added value. The graphics were understood well. However, there were some minor issues with paper tearing when unboxing.