Obstacles, insights & lessons learned designing a computer vision feature for myfitnesspal

In 2019, I was a designer at MyFitnessPal. Over a few months, I worked closely with a small team to discover and design a solution for scanning food into a diary. Here’s a peek into my process.

The problem

For those determined enough to count their calories, a simple plate of food poses a few problems.

Imagine, a bright yellow cob of corn, smothered in butter. A pile of green beans. In the middle of the plate is a red hot dog, in a brioche bun, a dollop of mustard, ketchup and what looks like relish.

Before apps, the food on this…

Auto-Layout is a new feature from Figma that allows your frames to respond more naturally to the content within.

When you add Auto Layout to a frame…the frame’s size is then determined by the total size of the items within it…This makes last minute requests like tweaking button copy from “Buy” to “Add to basket” a breeze. As you edit the text, the frame resizes automatically.

It feels a bit like magic, but it has some limitations too. To demonstrate, I’ve rebuilt a material-style tab bar in auto-layout.

View file in figma.

The Old Fixed Tab Bar

Here we have a fixed tab bar. Fixed tabs display all tabs…

To design is to bring about a desired state of affairs.

- Edward de Bono

When we build software, the delivery process is broken into two chunks. Designers focus on making something learnable, effective and tolerant, and then share their solutions with developers.

Meanwhile, developers are responsible for ensuring the implementation is maintainable, correct and fast, among many other things. That’s how stuff gets made.

But there’s a gap in the middle. The designs have to be understood, or they’re worthless. Whether their audience is technical or not, effective communication becomes a critically important step in the design process.



The last time I reviewed my year was in 2015.

Damn, I was so happy then! What happened? A lot. 2016 I guess. Anyway, the annual review is a good practice to keep, so here we go again.


I started 2017 10,000 miles away, in Melbourne, Australia.

My time back home went too fast. Luckily, my company was happy for me to work remotely for a few months, which was truly generous and ended up changing the course of the year for me in many ways. As an expat, every waking hour is tinged with the weirdness living in a…

Jordy van den Nieuwendijk: Egyptian Evening

The image of the world around us, which we carry in our head, is just a model. Nobody in his head imagines all the world, government or country. He has only selected concepts, and relationships between them, and uses those to represent the real system — Jay Wright Forrester

This is nothing new for any user centered designer, but considering Jay’s hypothesis, product designers must be especially deliberate and careful to mitigate the seeping complexity of software.

Below, I’ve paraphrased three unique, modern thinkers, as they discuss the subject of mental models, and how they relate to software design.


Why you shouldn’t optimize the pain away

Trigger warning: Quite a few Crossfit references

This should be software. Or should it?

Crossfit is all about results. Times, reps, weights. Coaches will remind members to add their results into an app, usually Wodify. This helps to track your progress.

Instead of using my phone, which I rarely bring to class, I’ll often use the ‘gym’ calculator to figure out how much weight I lifted. I’ll then plug that score into my profile.

It’s a pretty clunky experience in 2017. The designer in me wants to intervene. To improve.

There’s a feature here. Put it on a roadmap. Remove friction. Increase score input per member. Increase…

Introducing a free Sketch template that makes it easy to create beautiful apps for Apple TV.

Download Now

The future of television is here.

And you can help design it. This free resource includes all the grids, guides, layouts and interface elements you need to deliver an incredible app for Apple TV. Use this resource so you can work faster, smarter and create pixel perfect work.

8,294,400 pixels. A stupidly bright and sharp LED screen. A remote that understands your movements, and voice. A screen so big you can’t reach edge to edge. Sound that surrounds you and fills an entire house. That’s TV.

That’s a big canvas to play with.

But hardly anybody is playing. I was recently tasked to design an experience for Apple TV, and after a few google searches, realized I was on my own. There’s no help out there. No articles, guides, templates, designers to follow, videos or even screenshots of other apps.

I can understand why. TV has been ignored…

“Be studious in your profession, and you will be learned.” — Benjamin Franklin

From Ben Franklin to Tony Robbins, it’s no secret that Americans idolize self improvement. Based on the numbered lists floating around for designers to read (I’m looking at you InVision), designers are no exception.

Instead of curating another bunch of articles, I wanted to write, and share with you the one list I’m following, my own.

As a bit of background, I’m about four years into my professional career, and a few years less working in product. …

Yep, another one of those articles. I apologize in advance. But I’m pretty excited. I’ve managed to reframe ‘coding’, as a practical, and more importantly, achievable skill for me to integrate into my design process. This was not how I used to think. So, what happened?

The story so far

To start with, I work as a product designer at a tech company and I have a basic, working knowledge of how web applications are built.

I believe a designer should know the materials their solutions are built with, just like an architect must know the materials used in building a house. …

Josh Clement

Product Designer

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