If you’re just joining us within our design thinking series, we recommend starting your reading at our first post, Design Thinking Exercise in Real-World Application. There, we cover the purpose behind our team’s design thinking, empathy-building experience.

Specifically, this article will cover the challenge, insights and recommendations of Persona E, Taylor: 65-year-old tourist visiting friends (driving).

The challenge

When selecting a restaurant, Persona E was looking for something that met the following criteria:

  • Outside seating
  • Group seating
  • Fresh food
  • Quiet (not filled with college kids)
  • Ample parking

The insights

During the field work, one of the major challenges was choosing an entrée based on the dietary restrictions of an older adult. Selecting an entrée may seem easy for dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan; however, knowing which entrées are rich in fruits and vegetables, low in dairy, and high in fiber to support diets such as high cholesterol, low sodium, or diabetes can be difficult.

This is why it’s beneficial to see a restaurant’s menu beforehand. But how would someone with diabetes or heart disease know which options support their diet by simply looking at a menu online? There are sites such as WedMD, Healthline, and Everyday HEALTH that provide healthy eating tips for eating out, but these don’t make the task of choosing an entrée from a limited menu much easier.

The solution

The solution is a website, tentatively called MenU.com. MenU.com is designed to provide diet-friendly food options based on a specified health condition. A user would enter their diet or dietary restrictions (e.g. diabetes diet, low cholesterol diet, etc.), and then select a restaurant to view its menu. The site would identify food options from the restaurant’s menu that support the user’s diet needs and put them into a list. Thus, creating a personalized menu with only the food options that support their diet needs.

MenU.com bridges the gap between older adults with health conditions viewing a restaurant menu online and researching healthy eating tips on medical news and information sites, making eating out more delightful.

In conclusion

As we noted earlier, it is practice that makes perfect. Practice, not just in the sense of using design thinking skills, but in experiencing the results of design thinking and building confidence in the fact that they do indeed often, if not in general, lead to unforeseen insights and solutions.