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Healthy Huskies

User Research + Design Project




Undergraduate students attending universities often find it difficult to keep tabs on their overall health and well-being. Since the college environment is full of fast paced work, stress, and constant assignments, it is easy to neglect proper eating, mental health care and physical exercise. Healthy Huskies is a mobile application initiative, allowing students to set personal goals, keep track of their dietary health, have convenient access to campus resources, and monitor their wellbeing and mindfulness in order to improve overall mental, physical, and emotional health.

​Students who are completing their undergraduate degrees on a college campus are often looking for ways to avoid excessive weight gain, stress, and other forms of health strains. Thanks to the introduction of more fitness motivation applications for mobile devices, as well as health programs on both web and mobile platforms, it has been easier to keep track of one’s health. Although these applications and methods of tracking fitness seem appealing in theory, the reality is that students are always looking for a way to promote convenience and minimize the amount of time needed to perform a certain action. In this case, it would be referring to having all of the different health and fitness aspects consolidated into one space, rather than having to navigate through several applications. With the advancements in technology year-by-year, it has been a trend to push for more simple, easy to use design approaches, and having one application that can perform all these different aspects would prove to be essential to a student.


Healthy Eating


The first button on the home screen is for Healthy Eating. The Healthy Eating section of Healthy Huskies allows users to take initiative of their personal nutrition goals, track their calorie intake throughout the day, and access UConn Dining Services’ online information and resources easily. 


The main screen of the Healthy Eating section of the app contains several widgets and buttons to help guide the user. These widgets contain symbols and simple fonts in order to make page navigation as straightforward as possible. The widgets include Nutritional Plans, Calorie Count, Dining Hall Favorites, UCuisine, and a quick link for Nutrition Counseling. 

Within the Nutrition Plan tab, there are three further broken down categories. These include the Husky Plate, Meal Tracker, and Recommended Nutrition Plans. As Pierce had brought to our attention during our interview, the Husky Plate student initiative has been ramping up over the past academic year, and the department would like to see it incorporated into the application. In order to achieve this, we mirrored the current Husky Plate posters that are currently being displayed in dining units across campus. These posters are limited in number and are quite busy in terms of design. In Healthy Huskies, the Husky Plate page showcases all of the important information in a clean display at the palm of the users’ hands.

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Next, the Meal Tracker widget allows for users to input their daily meals and nutritional information. To do so, the user must select the “Add Meal” text in the top right corner of the page, leading them to a space to input their meals. If the user ate a meal at a dining services unit on campus (including all dining halls, UC Cafes, or other Dining Services facilities), the meal tracker will first prompt the user to select a dining unit, then select the food or drink item from the unit’s daily menu, and input the quantity or size. The Meal Tracker will then automatically update the calorie and other nutritional information in the daily meal log. This feature makes tracking nutritional information much more convenient for users, as they are able to save time by having the menu information already available on the page. The Meal Tracker also allows users to manually input the meal name and calorie information if its origin is not UConn affiliated. Once the meal has been submitted through the form, the meal will appear on the Meal Tracker daily log. This widget includes the meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or snack), the summarized calorie information, and the tagged UConn dining unit, if applicable. By having this feature, it creates a more holistic and visible summary of the user’s calorie intake patterns and their most recently visited dining units on campus. Above the meal widgets on the meal tracker page, there is a bar that showcases the day’s calorie intake goal as well as the remaining calories allowed for the day to make the calorie goal. This idea was inspired by external applications such as MyFitnessPal , as it is convenient to have this information available when choosing what to eat when logging a meal. This page also combines the best of both worlds: keeping the application UConn specific, while incorporating inspired elements from popular applications to make the user transition to Healthy Huskies very simple.

The last button in the Nutrition Plans section of Healthy Eating is for “Recommended Plans.” The purpose of having a recommended plans section in our application was to cater to those users who have limited experience in setting personal nutrition goals as well as watching their nutritional health. Especially being college students, there is a high chance that the students will not know the proper nutrition information of the foods that they are eating at UConn Dining facilities, or how to locate food options with the best nutritional value available. These recommended plans serve as a starting point for users to begin their healthy eating journey. Some of the categories we decided to incorporate in the recommended plans include Low carb, high protein, and low-fat plans. We also included nutrition plans that were more focused on certain types of food, such as the “Lean Green Plan”. Based on a survey that we had conducted to the UConn student body regarding finding healthy eating options at the Dining Halls, a little over half of the responses indicated that it was a challenge to find healthy options. By creating a guide for users to follow when at the dining halls, as well as have access to resources such as the Husky Plate, it will become easier for users to find these options. 


Besides the Nutrition Plans section of Healthy Eating, there are other widgets that are essential to the Healthy Eating experience. Next to the nutrition plans button, there is a widget displaying the total calories consumed for the day. Having this clearly visible on the healthy eating page shows a quick reminder of the calories consumed as well as how many calories are available for the rest of the day. If the user would like to get a more detailed display of available calorie information, they can navigate to the meal tracker page. However, we found that having a quick glimpse available for users to see their calorie consumption would serve a good reminder throughout the day. 


Next, there is a “Favorites” button for the users favorite dining halls on campus. Next, there is a favorites button for the users favorite dining halls on campus. Here, users are able to input their favorite UConn Dining facilities, whether it is a dining hall or UC Café. Once the dining hall is added to the favorites list, users can quickly access the days menu for the specific location without thinking twice. This makes the users experience much more convenient than having to navigate through UConn dining services menus every time that they want to know what is available. There is a plus icon to indicate users to add dining units to their favorites, as well as a gear icon to indicate to users to be able to edit their list, in case the user would like to remove a dining unit from the page. Lastly, at the bottom of the list, there is a link to the UConn Dining Services homepage for daily menus, allowing users to still be able to access all the dining halls and facilities menus easily. This way users can see the menus they like and add the dining facility into their favorites if they would like to do so. 


Additionally, there is a button that guides the user to the UCuisine electronic magazine. As of right now, UConn Dining services finds it a challenge to have students read this magazine, and they would like to have more students utilize this resource. Therefore, we made sure to incorporate you cuisine into the healthy eating page, as users are more likely to explore the magazine if there is a quick link within the app to access the magazine. In this way, we hope that healthy huskies is able to promote the UCuisine dining services initiative. 

Lastly, we incorporated a quick link to the Nutrition Counseling page from Student Health and Wellness, a branch of Student Health Services. This is one of the examples of integrating other UConn departments and removing the typically associated boundaries. If a student is struggling to understand where to begin their nutrition journey, and they would like to explore further nutrition plans rather than the starting guides available in the recommended plans tab, The user can click on the Nutrition Counseling button and sign up to speak with a Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. This service has been available to UConn students since day one, however students do not realize this resource is available. Student Health Services has struggled to be able to educate students about this resource, and we found that incorporating it into The Healthy Eating page word encourage users to explore the available resource. 


Overall, the healthy eating page is a well rounded area for students to personalize their healthy nutritional experience at UConn. By keeping the design simple, as well as incorporating familiar elements from other applications, and having UConn specific resources available and easy access, UConn students will have a much easier time transitioning to a healthy eating initiative on campus.

Staying Active


The next button available on the homepage is “Staying Active.” Here, users will be able to monitor their physical activity and fitness goals to better their experience at UConn, using the new UConn Recreation Facility, walking around or logging activity around campus, or participating in other UConn Rec related events. 


The main screen of the Staying Active section of the app contains widgets and buttons in a similar style to those of Healthy Eating to help guide the user and to keep consistency within the application. At the top right corner, there is a map icon for users to click on and look at the layout of the new facility. The icon will direct the user to the facilities online map, as there is not an official map released currently [3]. This is very important to the success of the new facility and Healthy Huskies, as it will familiarize users with the new facility and the locations of the various gym sections once it is opened. The main widgets for Staying Active include a Daily Step Counter, a UConn Recreation Facility Check-In, UConn Recreation Upcoming Events, Personal Fitness Goals, UConn Recreation Class Registration, and a Weekly Workout Challenge. 


The first widget displays the user’s step count during the day. This would essentially incorporate a feature that most smartphones already track in their health and data applications, and display it within Healthy Huskies. It will serve as a reminder to the user to make sure to reach their personal step goal or encourage them to be more active during the day. 


Next to the Step Counter, there is a button for UConn Recreation Check-In. One of the main ways yo get users to download and use Healthy Huskies is to encourage participation. Here, we wanted to have a location where users can see their Recreation Facility engagement. When initially setting up a profile, the questionnaire asks the user to input their gym usage frequency per week. By having a page in the application devoted to logging the user’s Recreation Center check-in frequency, it will encourage users to go more often and see their patterns of attendance. On the page itself, there is a circle showcasing the number of visits in the current week, followed by a box containing the date and time information of the week’s gym check-ins. 


The next section showcases all upcoming events for UConn Recreation. This includes any of the indoor or outdoor event, orientation or tour, tournaments, and other announced activities for the current week. Having this feature will encourage all users to explore and learn about the different types of events that the Recreation Department has to offer throughout the year. On the page, there is a space for a summary of the date, time, and event description for the week. Below that, there is a button linked to the online UConn Recreation Event Calendar for a full view of the department’s offerings [21]. When speaking with Olivia Balloveras from UConn Recreation, she emphasized the department’s desire to better educate the student body on the different events that the department offers. By having the event types all available in a convenient location, it will encourage users to look into the various options that are being promoted. 


Next is the Fitness Goals tab. Similar to the Meal Tracker page, The Fitness Goals page incorporates elements from popular existing fitness applications, while still having UConn specific features. For example, once the page is open and the user will see a number of steps needed to reach their goal for the day. For our prototype, we use a default of 10,000 steps, as many applications use this as the default such as Fitbit . Below the step tracker, there are three widgets that showcase personal goal progress. Some of these personal goals could include weekly gym visits completed, weekly workout challenge percentage completed, or weekly miles reached. these personal goal progress widgets help display do users current track to reach their goal, encouraging them to complete the goal. Once the goal is completed, users will receive a badge that can be displayed on their public profile if desired. By having the ability to share fitness goals with their community, users are incentivized to participate in challenges and use Healthy Huskies as their platform of choice. 


Next, there is a button for class registration. As of now, when students would like to sign up for a UConn Recreation provided class, there are many pages to navigate through, making it confusing to do so. By having a direct link to the UConn Recreation login page [20] that brings the user to class registration, it minimizes the pages users must navigate through, and brings them directly where they need to be. This was a concern of the Department of Recreation, as they wanted to make the process of signing up for classes easier, particularly with the launch of the new facility. 


Lastly, we incorporated a weekly workout challenge element provided by UConn Recreation. This weekly workout challenge page will update once a week with a pose challenge by the department. A challenge could be a simple set of exercises such as push-ups crunches and jumping jacks, or it could be a challenge to hike a 4 mile trail – it really depends on the department and what they choose to challenge users with. In fine print, we included a line stating, “Seek assistance or additional explanation? Consult a UConn Recreation staff member.” The purpose of incorporating this line is to make sure that users know that they do not need to have all the answers. For example, if the Challenge of the Week incorporates a particular exercise that the user is not familiar with, they should not be discouraged to participate, and rather, the user should ask questions to the staff to be able to learn more about the posed challenge. At the bottom of the Weekly Workout Challenge page, there is a button to check team status. This is another element of user engagement and community to highlight in the application in order to encourage participation and application usage. 


Gamification in Staying Active

Once the user clicks on the team status button, a leaderboard will appear on the screen. The Leaderboard display will begin by showing the top five teams for the current week, and allows the user to select “see more” drop down button to show the next five teams on the leaderboard. By including the leaderboard aspect, we hope to see more users involved in participating in fitness challenges. 


Having a gamification element in our application was something very important to highlight. In today’s fitness application market, it is critical to incorporate elements such as a badging system, leaderboard, or goal-oriented health objectives to incentivize user participation. 

Within the application, once a user reaches a personal goal or wins a challenge, or participates in a competition, they will receive a trophy achievement that they can share to the community space, or leave on their public profile. This will encourage users to rack up as many awards and badges as they can to share with their UConn community.

Mental Health


The last button on the homepage will direct the user to the Mental Health section of the application. This page is much lighter in terms of colors and fonts, in order to have a more calm presentation. At the top, an inspirational quote or saying will appear. Once the application is developed, the quote at the top of the page will ideally change every time the page is opened. This feature allows users to feel inspired and hopeful when using the application. Below the quote are four main sections: general mental health tips for the user, help lines, sleep, and resources. 


In terms of general tips for mental health, hope to the Counseling and Mental Health Services department can create lists of tips to rotate through every several weeks within the application. Users would to be able to access new strategies and have a unique experience when they visit the section of the application. Some of the tips can include, but are not limited to, tips on how to relax, how to destress, weekend getaway ideas, and craft inspiration. In the Healthy Huskies prototype, the page showcases “Tips to Relax” on the General Tips section, which is designed on a pale yellow tone to be soft on the user’s eyes. Our goal is to have users find this appealing to view and use, even if they are not used to focusing on self-care and mental health awareness. 


Next to the tips button, there is a button titled “We are here to help.” This section will direct users to the Quick Connect contacts available on the Counseling and Mental Health Services website. The contacts include an emergency line to 911, sexual assault services (SART), scheduling a CMHS appointment online or to call the office phone number, and the advice nurse phone number, available 24 hours a day seven days a week throughout the academic year. Many students do not realize these resources and help lines are available, and they tend to underestimate their situation if they are going through something where these resources could help. Furthermore, by mirroring the quick connect links that are on the website, users are more likely to be able to recognize the layout of this section, making website and application navigation easier. 


The next section created is for Sleep. Within the Sleep page, there are several widgets, including a bedtime reminder, sleep tracker, and tips for better sleep. For the bedtime widget, users will be able to set a goal for their ideal bedtime within the application. When the user is not using the app, a push notification will be sent at the time they had input as their bedtime, reminding the user that it is time to sleep. This simple feature will help regulate students sleeping routine. Additionally, there is a sleep tracker button, which will mirror the data tracked from iPhones for sleep patterns, already being tracked in the health application by Apple. Lastly there is a quick tips section for how to get better sleep, or to fall asleep faster. Simple tips such as stopping phone usage, sticking to a schedule, cutting caffeine after a certain hour, or trying meditation, will help users manage their sleep patterns more effectively. 


Lastly there is a button directing users to a resources page. When interviewing with Suzanne Onorato from SHS, she emphasized that she wanted students to be able to know who to contact when in need of resources. By having a resources page with contact information for the counseling and mental health services department, it simplifies the process students would have to go to for finding the resources they need. Additionally, by having this information in an application for capital health and wellness at UConn, it will encourage students to use these department resources more. 


More than the Healthy Eating and Staying Active sections, the Mental Health section of the application acts as a resource to educate students more on how to take care of themselves while at the University of Connecticut. Many students fail to remember to take a step back and focus on their mental health and take initiative. One at college, it can be very difficult and overwhelming transitioning from an at-home lifestyle to a college campus. especially as we are targeting first year students as our main audience, we hope to have healthy huskies aid in the lifestyle change when coming to UConn by providing students with all of the resources they will need to become more comfortable.

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Profile & Community


Profile - After creating a profile on initial launch of Healthy Huskies, a user profile is created. The user profile can be accessed at the bottom left corner of the application on the navigation bar, titled “My Profile.” Here, users are able to view and manage their personal and private profile pages. 


For the public profile, users can upload an image of themselves to be able to personalize their page and have other users be able to recognize their profile faster than just by name. Additionally, any challenges or personal goals reached will appear on the Achievements section of the profile, with a trophy icon next to where the user was awarded a first, second or third leaderboard position. Additionally, the user’s Team Name for challenges is also visible on the public profile. Users can share any of these achievements in the Community tab, as well as manage their settings to be able to remove any achievements they would not like to be shown publicly. This allows to users to customize their experience with Healthy Huskies. 


For the private profile, information that is displayed includes my personal information such as weight, height, personal fitness goals and health goals, and scheduled appointments with campus-wide resources. Since this information is more personal, it will remain private to be seen only by the user. By having information such as weight and weight goal side-by-side on the private profile, it creates a more visible representation as to where the user wants to be physically as a result of using the application. Additionally, having scheduled appointments written on the private profile also serves as a reminder for upcoming commitments. When appointments are coming close, users are able to send push notifications to remind them of their appointment. 


By having a public and private profile on the same my profile tab, it simplifies the process to access all personal profile information, rather than having to navigate through the home tab to access other resources and tracking pages. 


Community - Lastly, the bottom right corner of the application shows the community tab in the navigation bar. When brainstorming the application, we knew that having a space for sharing achievements with friends and acquaintances to acknowledge was important. This was inspired by application such as Fitbit, where users can join teams participate in challenges and share treatments, as well as my fitness pal, which allows users to share any goals are reached to a community space. With healthy huskies, it will create a platform for students to interact with the community and share their personal fitness and health goals and participate in challenges such as The UConn Rec Weekly Workout Challenge. 


The design of the community page resembles that of any other social media platform. It allows users to engage, like, or comment on other users posts. Users are allowed to check-in at a location, which will allow searching for specific posts much easier. At the top of the page, your personal user icon will appear at the top left, followed by a text box to “share your health achievements!” by writing a status, checking in to a location, or sharing a photo. Here, users can post a personal healthy recipe, share their experience with the UConn Recreation facility, experience at a dining hall, or tips they would like to share on how to manage stress. This allows users to be free to express their health initiatives and encourage friends and acquaintances to learn about their experiences. 


Not only does this allow users to engage in a community space, but it also allows for UConn Recreation, UConn Dining Services, and Student Health Services to become more exposed to the community and showcase all types of health initiatives in one space. 


This mock up is part of a version 2 design (not the original iPhone 8 format).

Full updated mockups will be added to this case study soon!

Test & Survey Results


After solidifying the application prototype design and idea, we conducted a survey [7] to the UConn student body to further understand their needs and wants from an application such as Healthy Huskies. 


In terms of mental health, we asked students how much they would say they prioritize their mental health. Majority of students said on a scale of 1 to 5, one being never and five being always, that they always prioritize their mental health. When asked if they had used on campus resources for mental out such as Student Health Services, Wellness and Prevention, or Counseling and Mental Health Services, 87.5% of respondents said they had not. This overwhelming percentage of students do not actually use the campus resources available to them, and rather take mental health initiatives into their own hands. If students have access to campus resources without explicitly naming the departments involved, students are more likely to want to utilize these available resources. Therefore, within the application, we limited the amount of times the department names were mentioned, and rather, created more broad categories to navigate through. 


When asking the student body “how many times a week do you exercise?” majority of responses said five times a week. However, when asked how many times a week they utilize the UConn Recreation center, majority of responses said one only time a week. This shows that majority of students are using outside facilities or other means of exercise rather than the UConn Recreation facilities. In order to combat this, we incorporated gamification elements, as well as personal tracking goals to encourage users to check-in to the UConn Recreation facility and participate in UConn Recreation events and competitions. 

When asking students how much they prioritize their nutrition on campus, majority of students said they almost always do. As referred to earlier, when asked if it is easy to find meals of significant nutritional value in UConn Dining Halls, however, 51.6% of students said it is not easy to do so. This percentage is concerning, as students would like to prioritize the nutrition however it is difficult for them to find nutritional value in the meals available at dining facilities. By incorporating recommend a nutritional plans, the Husky plate diagram, and the meal tracker option in the healthy eating page of the application, healthy huskies aims to guide students in the right direction to be able to find meals of significant nutritional value. 


Only one third of our respondents said that they currently use extern all applications to encourage personal physical fitness, so we know that marketing healthy huskies and encouraging users to download the application will pose a challenge. Those who use external fitness applications stated they enjoying being able to see their progress throughout the day, monitor exercise goals, and receive reminders and notifications. Their concerns about other applications include the fact that they are not always user-friendly, and certain features they like are not all in one application, making them need to use several separate applications. 


Lastly, when asking students if they would be interested in using an app to track their mental, physical, and emotional health using resources from the University of Connecticut, 84.4% of respondents said they would be interested. Although not many students are using such applications currently, the support shows the potential for healthy huskies to dive into a new market where students are willing to explore the personal tracking features as well as the campus resources available to them. 


Have not utilized campus resources for Mental Health (Including SHS and Counseling)


Are able to locate healthy and nutritional meals at UConn dining halls.


Would be interested in using an app to track Physical, Emotional, and Nutritional health


Resources for Mental, Physical, and Nutritional Health are readily available in our current society. Smartphone users more than ever have access to these resources through many existing applications at the palms of their hands. Particularly at college campuses such as the University of Connecticut, there are hundreds of faculty members and resources available to students in these specialized fields. Unfortunately, due to a lack of exposure and direction presented to students, many are not aware of the countless resources around them. In this way, Healthy Huskies will provide the binding needed to connect students to the resources they need, while encouraging personal growth in all aspects of mental, physical, and nutritional health. 


After creating the prototype for Healthy Huskies, the future scope of the project is in near sight. First, there would need to be a developing team to create a functioning prototype. This can be done using the recommended Front-End and Back-End softwares mentioned previously (Flutter and MongoDB), or use whichever platform the developers are most comfortable using. 


The next step would be to implement Healthy Huskies into the Student Body. Although the concept was already brought to the student body through the Testing phase of the project, we would need to provide a working beta application to gain further feedback from out target audience. Additionally, using user feedback through polls and focus groups, as well as department feedback from SHS, UConn Dining Services, and UConn Recreation, the necessary edits can be made to provide the most user-friendly product possible for the student body and departments involved. 


Lastly, there could be an addition of more complex aspects of the application. The prototype presented in this thesis is just a starting point— the developing team can create and include other elements of the application that have not yet been addressed. This can include sections such as healthy recipes for students living in apartment style housing, or more detailed workout style guides. Additionally, any of the ideas brought forth from the involved departments that were not able to be incorporated in the initial prototype will be able to be incorporated in future iterations of the project. 


There are many directions that Healthy Huskies has the ability to go towards. However, there will always be one mission in mind: creating a platform for students to encourage tracking their personal health, utilizing campus-wide resources, and promote their involvement with their community. 


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Healthy Eating
Staying Active
Mental Health
Profile & Community
Test & Survey Results
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