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Notifications in Food Logging Apps: A Review of Design Guidelines

Grade: E

Design Research Project

Competency Areas Built

  • Creativity + Aesthetics

  • Design + Research Processes

  • Math, Data + Computing

  • User + Society


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This paper presents a first exploration towards generating an overview of the design recommendations which have been issued on the topic of manual food tracking applications over the past 10 years. This is not only interesting for the field of food logging, but also as an exploration of how a systematic review of design recommendations could be done. By developing ways to retrieve, analyze, and evaluate published design recommendations from a meta-perspective, we are able to synthesize the design knowledge generated across disciplines, ultimately producing better design and research output. Design recommendations on the topic of mobile-based food tracking apps were retrieved from a literature review and then analyzed using qualitative coding. By zooming in on design recommendations related to notifications in mobile food tracking apps, this paper reveals the agreement and dissonance that exists both within design recommendations and against wider literature.


This semester has been both incredibly rewarding and incredibly challenging. At the beginning of this project, the prospect of working with WUR and their nutrition research department was exciting. My PDP goals included collaborating with others and positioning my research within a larger project, as well as maximizing my opportunities for using WUR’s resources. 


COVID-19 brought my WUR collaboration dreams to a halt when they had to shut down their research due to the close participant contact. I was already deep in understanding the vastness of the food tracking space between my literature benchmarking and my interviews with experts. I had also begun to notice interesting contradictions amongst the published work and advice given by researchers and experts in the fields of mobile food tracking applications. With my plans drastically changed, I decided that focusing on these contradictions and what they mean for us as a design community would help me accomplish my PDP goals in a different way. Paired with difficult personal circumstances, I had to adjust my expectations of this semester on the fly and make the most out of the situation.


Reworking my PDP to accommodate for an adjusted time frame, I arrived at two main goals for this semester:

"I was impressed how you never lost sight of the development of your competence areas and your personal development as a designer—a literature review can make this part challenging, because it required you to see the inherent value of research and how a deeper understanding of the researcher landscape contributes to your perspective as a designer. "

-Max Birk, 2nd Examiner
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