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MyPlate: USDA – Agile Approach to Promoting Healthy Eating

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Written by Asad Imtiaz

Seasoned Solutions Architect with experience in designing, deploying, and maintaining enterprise-level applications. Specializes in AWS, cybersecurity, and DevOps, ensuring system reliability and business continuity for diverse clients.

April 28, 2019

Introduction

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was pivotal in promoting food, agriculture, nutrition, and related issues. In line with its mission, One Dynamic embarked on a project in collaboration with USDA to create MyPlate (https://www.myplate.gov/), a dynamic online platform designed to promote healthy eating habits, particularly focusing on budget-friendly recipes and nutritional benefits. Utilizing agile methodologies and Drupal technology, One Dynamic’s team worked diligently from project inception to delivery, ensuring alignment with USDA’s objectives and adherence to best design, development, and maintenance practices.

Project Overview

MyPlate aimed to provide accessible resources for individuals seeking nutritious meal options, leveraging insights from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program, including the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Key features included a repository of budget-friendly recipes, nutritional information, and educational content emphasizing the importance of healthy eating. The project’s success hinged on strategic planning, efficient development processes, and meticulous attention to detail.

Success Factors
  • Strategic Analysis and Design: One Dynamic conducted a comprehensive analysis and designed a robust back-end and front-end system architecture tailored to USDA requirements. This strategic approach ensured scalability, flexibility, and seamless integration of features.
  • Content Strategy and Implementation: The team developed a meticulous content strategy aligning with the target audience’s needs. This involved considerations of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) to enhance usability and engagement. Through agile methodologies, the content was continuously refined to optimize effectiveness.
  • Site-Wide Visual Design: A unified visual design was implemented across the website, encompassing themes, fonts, colors, layout, and branding consistent with USDA’s guidelines. This cohesive visual identity fostered brand recognition and familiarity, enhancing the user experience.
  • Accessibility Compliance: Adherence to Section 508 standards was paramount throughout the project. One Dynamic ensured that the website met accessibility guidelines, guaranteeing inclusivity and usability for individuals with disabilities.
Key Contributors

The success of MyPlate was attributed to the concerted efforts of a multidisciplinary team comprising:

  • Project Manager: Provided leadership, oversight, and strategic direction throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): Leveraged nutrition, public health, and web development expertise to inform content creation and platform functionality.
  • Scrum Master: Facilitated agile processes, ensuring timely delivery and effective collaboration among team members.
  • Business Analyst: Translated USDA’s requirements into actionable project tasks, facilitating alignment between stakeholders and development teams.
  • Quality Assurance Tester: Conducted rigorous testing to identify and rectify issues, ensuring a seamless user experience.
  • Section 508 Developer: Implemented accessibility features to comply with regulatory standards, promoting inclusivity and usability.
  • Drupal Developers: Utilized their technical proficiency to build and maintain the platform, leveraging Drupal’s capabilities for scalability and customization.
Conclusion

MyPlate exemplifies the successful collaboration between USDA and One Dynamic in leveraging agile methodologies and Drupal technology to promote healthy eating habits. Through strategic planning, meticulous design, and adherence to best practices, the project achieved its objectives of providing accessible resources for individuals seeking nutritious meal options. Continuing maintenance and iterative improvements will ensure MyPlate remains a valuable resource in advancing USDA’s mission of promoting food security, nutrition, and public health.

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