How I designed the Cookbook app

Cookbook helps people collect and reference recipes anytime, anywhere.

I recently watched an episode of “Chef’s Table” and I got this fierce urge to cook. Before the episode had ended, I was rummaging through kitchen cupboards looking for a book with a particular recipe that would satisfy my salivary situation. To my dismay, the recipe could not be found anywhere.

A couple days later (and still frustrated about the lost recipe), I was having dinner with friends and I asked what they do with their recipes. As I listened to everyone explain their method of capturing and storing recipes, it became clear that there was a common problem.

Problem

People want to collect and share recipes on a whim. They want to have those recipes available at any place or time.

Let’s say you’re in a grocery store and suddenly decide you want to make a particular meal. It can be difficult to source the list of required ingredients, especially if the recipe is in a book at your home in the kitchen. And because there are so many different recipes on the web for the same thing, it is difficult to find the best recipe and always be able to retrace steps to get back to it in the future.

What if you’re at a party with insanely delicious guacamole and you want record that recipe without it getting lost in Notes or Camera Roll?

Solution

Build an app that lets users easily capture and store recipes in customizable folders on the cloud.

Research

Apple’s app store features over a dozen recipe apps. I noticed the majority of these apps had bad reviews and ratings. I tested a couple of the top rated apps and the user interface was clunky, nonintuitive, and some required expensive subscriptions.

Audience

Half of Americans prepare meals at home. Of that half, most are middle–class family people with a strong population concentration in the South. I am targeting people ages 12–65 that like to cook and that ideally have access to a full kitchen. Because of such a wide age group, I needed to build an interface that would be easy for anyone to use right off the bat. That means recognizable interaction patterns.

Constraints

Photos and screenshots take up space so I needed to incorporate online profiling so that users could store recipes on the cloud. Photos and screenshots are very diverse and I needed to think of a way to standardize look and feel.

Design

I sketched out a user flow and lo-fi wireframes. I went through all the steps and processes with my wife, who is known to be very honest and sometimes harsh critic. After iterating, I used Sketch and Invision to design high fidelity prototypes. I downloaded the prototype demo to my phone and tested the usability with 8 of my friends. Between tests, I modified the designs until I hit my deadline.

I reached out to a my good friend Lizzy Wheatley for all the food photography and videography for the mock up.

VIEW THE LIVE PROTOTYPE

Photography by Lizzy Wheatley

Version 2

I have exciting ideas that were put on the back burner due to time constraint.

Build a calendar so you can assign meals/recipes to dates.

Every day, people need to make decisions about what to eat. By planning meals ahead, users are taking another step to simplifying their lives and saving time. Decisions made on a whim are often unhealthy, so planning beforehand can motivate healthy lifestyle.

Google Express & Amazon Fresh delivery service

What if you could choose any recipe you’d like, and then have it arrive on your doorstep? Cookbook’s smart shopping cart would suggest other recipes needed to take advantage of bulk food orders so that you ultimately save food and money.

Delivery service is a great way to monetize the app by taking a portion of the delivery fee.

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