UX Case Study: Online Communities for Flexitarians during Covid-19


The popularity of the flexitarian & plant-based diet trend is rising globally among younger generations.

Problem Statement:

Despite the global pandemic of Covid-19, the flexitarian users used to practice a healthy diet regularly but have been struggling to do so. They are still looking to maintain their eating habits to achieve their personal goals in life for the good of their health benefits as well as ethical reasons.


The accessible online community founded on the Facebook platform is a community where health & fitness enthusiasts meet for a good cause to contribute their passion, expertise, and encouragement for others to live and grow during a hard time of Covid-19.

The Design Approach

Key deliverables & methods used in the case study
Key deliverables & methods used in the case study

Empathize Phase

I conducted both primary and secondary research for this case study. There are two points of the secondary research; a brief Covid-19 situation in Thailand and global flexitarian trends.

  • Secondary Research (Global Flexitarian Trends)
    The younger generations, Gen Z & Millennials, are essentially becoming more aware of health and environmental concerns through the widespread mainstream of plant-based foods and the flexitarian.
Source: Euromonitor International (2020), OnePoll (2020), and Meat Zero (2021)

Planning User Research Session

The main objectives are to figure out insights by collecting points of view and key findings to set the direction of the case study, defining the scope of needs, and ideating initial design ideas as follows.

  • Objective B: Problems & Concerns
    To explore any problems, concerns, barriers that users encounter when trying to maintain their healthy eating habits, especially during Covid-19.
The deliverable of the user research session plan
Notecards during the interview sessions
User Interview Transcripts

Empathy Map

Empathy maps played a big role at the early stage of the user-centered design process in uncovering key research findings and externalizing knowledge about users to prioritize the pain points & needs.

User #1 (Female) | Age 21 | Single | Fresh Graduated (Aviation), Linguist Freelance
User #2 (Male) | Age 33 | In A Relationship | Flight Attendant, Entrepreneur

Define Phase

Based on the empathy maps, both users have shared several common aspects including the pain points, goals, and interests. The key findings analysis enables me to see a range of useful insights listed below.

The Insights

Major Insights:

  • An influence from people in their connections (family, friends, colleagues, partner, or even strangers) is significant to consider for their health & fitness lifestyle. Social media is also quite influential to GenZ users.
  • Community is very important. Unable to stay connected with friends and community affect their motivation and commitment to run other activities including maintaining healthy eating habits.
  • Working out is an important factor that propels users to set a standard of good eating habits. Gyms were closed during the covid-19 pandemic causing them to start lacking the motivation to work out.
  • Plant-based food was also mentioned as part of their interest.
  • Animal food products & environmental concerns were mentioned as part of their insights and/or goals to spread this current awareness.

User Persona

In these early stages of the design process, I’ve built a good empathy with my target users through key research findings and key insights as follows.

User Persona of Pimpa M.

Ideate Phase

From key research findings to key insights, from key insights to user persona. And from user persona to creative ideas for solutions! There were four different methods conducted to bring out ideas in the right direction; how might we, brainstorming, crazy 8s, and user journey map as follows.

How Might I…?

1. How Might I get them motivated to work out when they lack motivation?
2. How Might I help them to start their healthy diet lifestyle again?
3. How Might I help them stay connected with friends and community?
4. How Might I find them some interesting communities to engage with?
5. How Might I help them to feel inspired through the period of covid-19?


Let’s bring out new fresh ideas in this session!

Brainstorming Map

Crazy 8s

My Crazy 8s was based on the combination of “How Might I..?” and Brainstorming workshops. Briefly, the drawing images on Crazy 8s were related to health, food, and fitness. A few ideas were mainly focused on, you may find stickers on these favorite ideas.

Self-timing on Crazy 8s Workshop

User Journey Map

According to the hypothesis from the insights and due to the ideas gathered during the research & ideation phases, Facebook was chosen as a primary online community platform on social media to serve the persona, Pimpa.

User Journey Map_Online Community

Prototype Phase

Initially, the UX research part (the first 3 phases) is actually the main focus of this case study. However, I find that to move forward with the prototype & test phase would also be a great idea to receive feedback or any further learnings from my research participants.

Clean Eating Recipes, Fitness, and Weightloss, Body Transformation Club, Workout Friends, Yoga With Adriene

Test Phase

Due to the timing and budget matter, I decided to conduct rapid testing with the same participants from the research interview as they were also considered the end-users of this case study.

User Testing Preparation

Define goals or expectations to create the flow of the interview process

  • Collect findings for user testing analysis
  • Qualitative; Questionnaires
  • Quantitative; Net Promoter Score
  • Background; user’s background on social media usage
  • Rank preference and engagement tendency among any of these communities
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are they to recommend these online communities to someone?

User Testing Summary

To look for key findings analysis, I ran a quick test of the prototypes with the same participants from the earlier research phases to support the hypothesis as well as identify new insights for further areas of development.

  • Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are top social media used on mobile
  • The average number of Facebook usage among the users is 6 days a week
  • Purposes when using Facebook
    → Explore various contents including healthcare, technology, news & social events, products & restaurants review, travel, and life updates of personal connections
Results Summary
  • A variety of practical contents; diet, fitness, and home-cooking recipes

Learnings & Challenges? And what might I do if I had more time with more resources available?

1. It was challenging while conducting the user research since there was no budget to recruit and compensate participants.


1. Initially, there were three participants, sharing the ideal recruiting criteria, involved in the research process. Somehow, some non-aligned points between the first two participants and the third one after conducting the user testing.



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