Since establishing the idea for my project there have been a lot of changes to the way I have decided to try and address the problem of individual impact on the environment through meat consumption. Originally I had intended to create a website which allowed users to track their meat eating habits. After discussing my project in seminars and doing research my idea began to evolve into something that wasn’t as reliant on storing data into databases which the user could check on on a weekly basis to see how much meat they were eating and is now much more focused on creating awareness on the impact of meat consumption on the environment.
Zero Carbon app (Mobitelio LTDA, 2009) Screenshot taken from Itunes.apple.com
My research in the beginning looked at mobile apps which helped users organise and manage their lifestyle. The example above is an app which helps users track their carbon footprint and helps suggest ways which they can reduce their carbon footprint. After reading the reviews (below) I realised the app wasn’t very successful as it didn’t support user input.
This made me realise that the most important aspect of my project was that it would allow users to see their impact on the environment, there was no point in having an app or interactive website which just provides users with information that has no reflection of their personal contributions to the problem.
Smokefree app (Crane 2015) Screenshot taken from Itunes.apple.com
Another example I looked at was this app which helps users track how much money they had saved and their health improvements after quitting smoking. Originally I had thought I could include a section of the website that allowed people to track the progress of their health due to their change of diet. It seemed that using a model similar to this where the user continuously checks their account to see how well they were doing could work quite well. After some discussions in seminars it was pointed out to me that I had two ideas, one which dealt with creating awareness about the impact of the livestock industry and another which was about personal health management.
Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker app (Myfitnesspal.com 2015) Screenshot taken from Itunes.apple.com
My original idea was that the user could select the meat they had eaten each week, the data would be stored in a database, then the next week the user would do the same and the two sets of data would be compared so that the user could see if they were eating less or more meat and therefore manage their meat intake more effectively. Because there are already relatively successful apps which allow users to track their diet (such as the diet tracker app above) I became skeptical that a website which helps users manage their meat consumption probably wasn’t going to be very useful. The reasons for this are that it would be tough to engage users in the product if it’s something they have to visit and manage on a regular basis, especially for something so specific.
I think what my project intends to do now is show users what impact they personally have on the environment but not provide them with a tool for organising their diet as there are already successful apps available for that purpose and people are more than capable of organising their diet without the use of an app or a website which they have to enter information into on a weekly basis. However, using mysql to allow users to create accounts and track their habits over time is something that I am still interested in and is something which I could expand on afterwards or even whilst I am working on the project for the exhibition depending on time constraints, though it is no longer the main focus.
Whilst researching possible directions I could take in designing the website I drew inspiration from a number of sources. Something that particularly caught my eye was a website created by a designer named Bard Edlund which tracked the time in different countries. Although the design doesn’t require any user input I like the minimalistic approach.
Another website which related to my project was the vegetarian calculator (Chico Designs 2015). The concept is simple and lets vegetarians see approximately how many animals they have ‘saved’ and how much c02 was not released in the atmosphere depending how long they had been vegetarian for. Although I wasn’t particularly fond of the design of the website I was interested in how much attention the website had got through sharing on social media.
I intend to make a modern and minimalistic design that is simple and gets straight to the point. I don’t want to be overly reliant on scrolling and animations popping out of the side of the screen as I find this is the same as creating a presentation with lots of whizzy effects that doesn’t really contribute to the quality of the presentation. Just because it is possible to do this sort of stuff it isn’t always useful.
The first four workshops were very useful to me in helping me understand how I could utilise php and mysql in a way which would allow users to interact with the webpage. In the early examples we learnt how to create a basic post system similar to that of Twitter. Although this isn’t something I intend to be using for my project it was useful because it broadened my understanding of php and mysql which is something I had been focusing on learning for about 6 months prior to starting the third year. It also informed me on how I could use the API to take pre recorded data and use that for my website. We used an example where we took data about the weather and used php to output the data on to the webpage. This would be extremely useful for me if there was data on meat consumption readily available to be used (I haven’t come across this so far). Another thing that we learnt that I was unaware of was the use of json in xcode so that you could create apps that linked to websites.
ChicoDesigns, 2015. Vegetarian calculator. vegetariancalculator.com, Available from: http://vegetariancalculator.com/ [Accessed 6 December 2015].
Crane, D., 2015. Smoke Free – Quit smoking now and stop for good. Itunes, Apple. Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/smoke-free-quit-smoking-now/id577767592?mt=8 [Accessed 4 December 2015].
Edlund, B., 2015. Is the Internet Awake?. http://www.edlundart.com, Available from: http://www.edlundart.com/pages/is-the-internet-awake.html [Accessed 6 December 2015].
Mobitelio LTDA, 2009. Zero Carbon. itunes.apple.com, MacOne. Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/zero-carbon/id336848607?mt=8 [Accessed 4 December 2015].
Myfitnesspal.com, 2015. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal. Itunes, Myfitnesspal.com. Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/calorie-counter-diet-tracker/id341232718?mt=8 [Accessed 4 December 2015].