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I joined OLIO as a Product Designer to improve the experience of being a volunteer collecting surplus food (Food Waste Hero).

OLIO connects over 5 million neighbours worldwide with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away.


There are over 25,000 OLIO volunteers collecting surplus food all over the UK from businesses like Tesco, Pret A Manger, Costa, and others, and distributing it via OLIO app. 

User research

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I began my work by introducing user interviews into the team’s workflow. We interviewed tens of Food Waste Heroes and started learning about their experience from signing up to collecting food and distributing it among other users.


I then created an affinity map based on weeks of collected feedback.


It became clear that keeping track of who wants what is the biggest issue.


Distributing the items is a very time-sensitive task: volunteers pick up the food in the evening hours, usually around 8. A lot of the articles have to be used by midnight.


This leaves the volunteers just a few hours to sort the food, upload it to OLIO and find someone interested to pick it up.


The in-app messages are not sufficient for Food Waste Heroes. We needed to create a more powerful collection management tool that would let them easily distribute the items, check  who is collecting what and when they are coming.

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The migration process is long but the end effect will mean developing a digital environment designed specifically for OLIO volunteers:

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Baskets design

The first step of that migration - requester Baskets - are already implemented into Food Waste Heroes’ routine. 

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Baskets allow Food Waste Heroes to easily see what each requester is collecting, how many of each item, and to write any extra notes such as allergies, collection preferences or time of pick-up. 

What's next?

Baskets have been rolled out to over 20 000 Food Waste Heroes and received positive responses from our users. The image below displays just a few of many responses to Baskets that we received in a survey after the Beta release.


 The works and improvements on Baskets continue. 

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