Noom: Better food color coding



Psychologist’s favourite

I love the idea of Noom: dieting based on psychology that reaches hundreds of thousands of users. Noom seems to understand our relationship with food’s emotional and situational nuance. They don’t want you just to lose weight, but to change how you think, feel, and behave about food — God’s work.
Is this a paid ad by Noom? Nope. There are some “buts” in Noom’s UX, and I’ll try to tackle one of those with an improvement suggestion.


Traffic lights

They are cross-cultural; everyone knows you should stop at the red light. Noom uses this system when they talk about types of food. And that’s when things get messy. Labeling some foods as red will subconsciously label it as bad. Having “good” and “bad” foods is not a way to build a healthy relationship with food. Traffic lights should go.


Confusing messages

Knowing very well the appeal of forbidden (it’s called reactance), Noom beats around the bush by labelling “red” food as bad (simply raises a “red flag.”). Despite Noom’s effort, there’s no escaping the “red = bad” using the traffic light reference. This makes things confusing for users trying to build a healthy relationship with food. Adding some more confusion, yellow foods should be eaten in moderation and be the biggest chunk of people’s diets. How are people supposed to do that?

Ideal diet without traffic lights

Noom has a Food Density Index. The more calories food has per ounce, the denser it is. It’s straightforward: you can eat a lot of fruits or two bites of a cheeseburger and get the same amount of calories. But fruit will keep you feeling full longer. Density has its name in visual design — saturation. So, let’s use it to make Noom’s visual communication clearer.


Airy • Solid • Dense

Now, these Food types’ names are more in sync with density as the characteristic of food, and there’s no need to explain that “red doesn’t mean bad, just red-flagish.” The whole text is also shorter, i.e., easier for people to memorize and apply in real life later.

Orbiting around Reddit’s rating system
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