Designing a mobile app to help home chefs discover new recipes and ignite their love for cooking.

High Fidelity Prototype

Please note this is a fictional application designed for educational purposes.

Roles: Research, UX, Prototyping, Visual Design

Project Length: 4 weeks

Problem

People are spending significantly more time at home, and cooking more meals versus dining out. However, master chefs aren't made overnight.

Many may find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of recipes available, or unsure of how to cook their favorite dish.

To help with this, I decided to design a mobile application for home chefs to find, discover, share, and save recipes as they learn more about the art of cooking.

Research

I started off by doing some preliminary research on how the cooking landscape has changed since last year.


“There is palate exploration, recipe exploration going on. We have documented all kinds of spicy sauces that have grown substantially — we’re talking about hundreds of percent points in smaller growth categories. That is happening and a lot of Gen X and millennials have taken to cooking at home for the first time....”


Based on this research, I thought this mobile app could help Gen X and millennial users the most since they might not have a lot of cooking experience. To find out more, I interviewed Gen X and Millenial participants who regularly cook at home and are familiar with mobile apps.

Findings from Interviews

  • Availability of ingredients on hand usually determines recipe selection. Unless a dish is pre-planned (baked goods for example).
  • Reasons for using recipes are to reduce wasting food from a poorly cooked meal, or for exact ratios (sauces, dressings, batter…)
  • More details are better. Such as how high the heat should be, or how long to fry things. Step by step photos for instructions are very important as well.
  • Nice, professional photos from a trusted source (chef, website) make the recipes seem more reputable vs. a DIY style with messy wording and unorganized steps. Recipes are compiled in some other program such as Apple Notes, Google Drive, or paper notebooks.


Competitive Research Findings

To get a better sense of the competitive landscape, I read through several websites comparing recipe mobile apps for iOS. These include reviews from TechRadar, Digital Trends, The Sweet Setup, and Tom’s Guide.

After noting which apps were consistently mentioned, I gathered a list of 12 competitors and downloaded all of these apps to see how they approach searching, browsing, saving, and sharing recipes.


Persona

With insights gathered from interviews and competitive research, I created a user persona to help me organize the pain points, needs, and goals that a typical user of this app would have.

Low Fidelity Wireframes

Testing competitor apps helped me draft low fidelity wireframes to map out various screens that a user would see in the app. Particularly, I focused on any onboarding tasks, home screens, searching for a recipe, and the recipe pages themselves. Below are several examples.


Part of the onboarding process which asks for the user's cooking experience to create a curated recipe view. The thinking behind this was that beginner cooks might need extra guidance when deciding what to make for the first time.
Home screen which displays recipes in various groups (Editor's Picks, Popular Recipes, Curated Recipes). Keeping in mind the goal of enabling recipe exploration, this also helps the business feature certain recipes for endorsements or advertisement fees.
Picturing how a user might save a recipe that they like for future reference, within the app. This was based on research where users saved recipes to another software, such as Apple Notes or Google Drive.

High Fidelity Wireframes

Using the wireframes above, I created a high fidelity prototype that was tested with 4 participants. Below are key screens that a user will encounter on the app.

Recipes are curated based on user's selections during the onboarding process. For example, this user will see recipes with a "Beginner" rating in their curated view.
The home screen that a user sees after completing onboarding. Here they can navigate to the search, saved lists, and settings.
Search results page for the user's query of "Japanese desserts."
Full recipe view where the user can share or save the recipe as well. All Ingredients and Instructions with photos are available as the user continues to scroll down.

Research participants mentioned that photos were especially helpful for instructions, which is why they are included with all of the steps.
How a user shares a recipe with friends.This was designed based on competitive research, as the majority of apps used the default iOS share pop up.
An example of the user saving a recipe to a custom list for future reference.

Iterations


Please note that participants clicked through the prototype, but users will tap their mobile screen in final use.


Prototype Testing Findings

Two participants were confused during the onboarding process, due to the lack of an "OK" or "Confirm" button. There was also some confusion because not all the parts of the prototype were built out, but users thought they could interact with these. Some participants thought the icons were really similar to the ones in Instagram, but I used this icon set so maybe the designer for that set drew inspiration from Instagram.


To reduce the confusion around double tapping to proceed with the onboarding flow, I added a confirmation button at the bottom of the onboarding screens to clarify to the user that they can tap this once they have selected their options.

Changes are outlined in the red boxes.

Final Designs

As a cooking enthusiast myself, this project was a fun way to approach a challenge that many people are probably facing now. I know from firsthand experience that it can be overwhelming to cook something for the first time, but also a good time...unless the dish turns out inedible.

But cooking is a skill that develops over time. And just like any other skill, I think there are ways to learn from other's mistakes and past experiences, which is why recipes can be so valuable. These are culminations of someone's culinary journey gathered through trial and error.

As we continue to live in a digital world, I hope that more people continue to cultivate their interests in cooking and new cuisines. In my opinion, it's a fun and delicious way to experience global cultures, traditions, and ways of life.