Engagement in Food Waste Reduction

Design of Data Visualisations to Increase Tracking-App User Engagement.

One fifth of all purchased food in Austrian households is thrown away. This behaviour not only results in economical losses but has a significant impact on the environment and causes loss of resources such as land, water, and energy. The What a Waste application aims to help users counteract this trend by providing them with a digital version of their food storage along with additional features such as a shopping list and sharing the data with other household members. This way, heightened awareness of the user’s habits concerning food is created and adaption of the user’s behaviour is made easier.


In my master’s thesis I analyse the design of data visualisations to increase user engagement of tracking applications similar to What a Waste in three steps: Firstly, literature on the topics of human–computer interaction, quantified self, and data visualisation is reviewed and discussed; secondly, four different data visualisation designs for What a Waste are created using an iterative approach and expert validation; thirdly, the visualisation designs are assessed in a quantitative user survey including a questionnaire measuring user engagement and a statistical analysis of the retrieved data is performed.


The following data visualisations were created using Adobe XD and were used for the  quantitative user survey to evaluate user engagement. By clicking the individual visualisation methods you are going to be forwarded to the clickable prototypes.

It was not possible to identify one visualisation method that leads to increased user engagement. However, the results suggest that, on the one hand, the user shows a higher engagement score when interacting with their preferred visualisation design. On the other hand, it can be concluded that engagement does not necessarily depend on the visualisation method itself but rather on the user’s interest in the topic, which highlights the need to call more attention to the topic of food waste and its effects on economical and environmental sustainability.

The results of my thesis were summarised in a scientific poster, which was created in Adobe InDesign.