A Passion for Food and Technology
Student Success Story
Master of Liberal Arts, Digital Media Design Degree Program '14
Food and technology brought Natali Gingrasfield to her thesis topic: a food truck finder. Through her capstone work, she was able to explore her passions while stretching herself and create something her co-workers could benefit from as they searched for lunch. A web communications specialist at Harvard Business School, Gingrasfield answered some questions about her capstone.
What inspired you to pick food trucks for the focus of your app?
When brainstorming about my thesis topic, I knew that I wanted to create something that contributed to Boston, the city I’ve called home for over 15 years. Then I tried to think about what topics I enjoyed and could spend months being immersed in, and landed on food!
I was introduced to the growing food truck scene in Austin, Texas, during my first South by Southwest conference in 2010. There was no shortage of mobile apps, which I found incredibly helpful and impressive, to help hungry participants find these mobile eateries.
In 2011, the city of Boston embarked on its mission to support food trucks. Although part of their campaign included a food truck locator on their website, the information rendered poorly on a mobile device.
There were a number of native mobile applications, but I didn’t want to be required to download and register another application. So I decided to create my own lightweight, mobile-friendly, responsive design food truck finder website called Moving Eats.
Was there particular feedback that informed your project?
I believe in testing early and often. Making changes in the design stage is much easier than in the development stage. And if you truly want a user-centric experience, you have to actually ask the users. I conducted user testing sessions and incorporated the feedback to make improvements to site branding. I also worked on the selectivity of information that most efficiently meets the goals of the site.
What made you decide to return to school?
Although I don’t work in IT (I work on technical projects and liaise with our IT department), I want to maintain a bilingual literacy by equipping myself with the necessary tools to communicate more effectively with my IT partners.
I love learning, whether in an official capacity or on my own, and as a Harvard employee, I have easy access to excellent resources like the Extension School.