How do we minimize the amount of leftover food after a Stanford Student Group sponsored event?
I designed an app that allows open communication between students and student groups to allow better event design and planning.
Skills & Tools
Design - Adobe Illustrator
Prototyping - Adobe XD
Human Centered Design
While helping clean up after a student group event, I noticed that we were storing and disposing of a sizable quantity of leftover food, approximately 20% of what was originally ordered by rough estimation. While it would have been helpful to have more fleshed out plans for sizeable leftovers then and for future events the real issue was we were ordering way too much food for the number of people that showed up.
In order to better understand the issue, I had conversations with seven Stanford friends who were very engaged in undergraduate activities, and/or were heavily involved in planning events. I also considered my own experience with both planning and attending events.
Some of my driving questions were:
How do you estimate how much food to buy/ how many people going to attend?
What is the average proportion of RSVP'ed guests who don't actually attend the events? (why are they not attending?)
What motivations do people have to attend events?
Are people eating less than anticipated and why?
How do people know about/ know to come to your events?
beyond word of mouth confirmations, rough estimates based on sizes of prior similar events -- there are not many accurate metrics to gauge attendance for non-ticketed events far enough in advance for catering
non-ticketed events rarely track crowd sizes
college students are busy: need to design events that cater specifically to their needs to increase incentives that guarantee attendance
students need visibility on events of interest far enough in advance to build it into their schedules
Key Features - Student Interface
Based on these insights I designed "Connect", a platform for Stanford groups and student users to communicate directly and openly about events. Groups can post and publicize upcoming events as well as receive student input and real-time metrics that help shape desirable events. Students can browse through events that are specific to their interests and receive reminders about upcoming events.
Recommended Events through Community Creation
Students can join Stanford groups that they're interested in, or form "clusters" with friends with dedicated dashboards where people can post events that may be of interest. Events hosted by groups they "join" and events that are posted on dedicated group and cluster dashboards are recommended to the user in the home feed in a ranked order that considers:
their event habits
how they rated similar events in the past
how often they interact with the host group or the person who shared the event
Direct Input into events being planned by student groups
Students can fill out polls posted by the organizing group about what kind of food they'd like, what times work best etc. so that the event is catered to their preferences. They can also directly message the group and propose events that would be of interest to them
Personal folder to keep track of upcoming events of interest
Students have a "my events" page built into their account where the events they've RSVP'ed to or bookmarked are organized by the week in which they occur. This also provides them with reminders for upcoming events
Key Features - Group Interface
Groups are able to create new events with dedicated dashboards where they can include external links to ticketing platforms, post event specific polls or updates and address frequently asked questions.
In addition to RSVP numbers and poll results, machine learning and predictive technology are built in to:
provide accurate projections on attendance based on levels of engagement, volume of general event activity, public review of similar events, and history of actual attendance vs RSVP number
provide suggestions of appropriate volume of food to order based on history of volume ordered vs. volume consumed.
User Testing Insights from Early Organizational Prototypes
Organization should be more intentional; feed and category approaches don't necessarily get to the point quickly enough
Student group executives are busy too; event creation should be able to be pre-populated with event information that has already been submitted to the university with the application for the event
Similarly, check in counting should be facilitated by app to minimize burden on student planners
Notification settings should be fine tuned to prevent same inundations that we do with email lists
Privacy options should be provided to students who don't want others to see what they're attending