Stoven: Home Cooking Reimagined
A UX Case Study about cooking classes taught from your stove.
For many, cooking has always been stressful. Planning meals for you and your loved ones, nailing down what recipe to try (and hopefully succeed) all while trying to maintain a healthy diet. As the world continues to cope with the effects of the pandemic, cooking at home is more prevalent than ever: so let’s make it more enjoyable.
With many people returning to the kitchen due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the work from home movement, it’s no wonder that new challenges have arisen. Planning weekly meals, grocery shopping, and attempting new recipes all bring fatigue to the kitchen. Many have found themselves in the kitchen more than ever before, but with little resources. Instead of branching out, people view cooking as a chore.
If there’s one thing we’ve seen is that there has been a disconnect between learning and enjoying cooking.
Imagine if there was a way to take cooking classes through your stove in the comfort of your own home. Meet Stoven, an interactive stove where you can take online cooking classes right in the comfort of your kitchen. Instructors cook on those same exact stoves as you are, so you will never have to second guess yourself or your products. Instead of endlessly scrolling through Google-searched recipes every week, you could tune in to world-renowned chefs across the globe teaching you right in the comfort of your own home.
Stoven allows you to virtually follow along in real-time with world-renowned chefs. Tap into the thousands of recipes with both an interactive class and a list of ingredients you would need to participate in the class. Partake in challenges to help you become a better chef, all on a modern stove. Everyone uses their stove differently so Stoven can also be used as just a normal stove. You could even use the interactive feature to display recipes for hands-free viewing for when you have a lot on your plate.
When researching similar competitive products for cooking at home, it seems that many people are longing for the at-home experience to be reimagined. When thinking of successful at-home experiences, we thought of the company Peloton. Bringing fitness and convenience right into people’s homes, they helped create not only a healthier lifestyle for people but also a community.
What if we could do that with cooking? The modern stove hasn’t changed and many people rely on it regularly to help them cook. What if it could make them a better, healthier chef?
When looking at statistics about cooking in the past year, saving time in the kitchen and generally spending less time on meal preparation were common goals among those surveyed. On average people were cooking the same meal 28 times since the COVID-19 pandemic started. 43% of respondents wanted to spend less time planning out their meals.
When conducting a survey we focused on trying to gather what issues people were having with home cooking. Through this research we found that most respondents were cooking more than 5 times a week at home, spending over 1 hour in preparation of cooking and over 85% of respondents were cooking the same dinner multiple times.
When we first started drafting this idea for Stoven, we originally focused on Stoven being an experience where you can cook with others. When we asked the survey responders who they are interested in cooking with, many respondents said they are comfortable with cooking alone and wanted to focus more on learning more skills in the kitchen. Without this survey, we would have not come to this conclusion. We decided to focus more on taking classes on the interactive stove instead of cooking together.
When I shifted my focus on taking classes, we asked my respondents “What is one thing you wish you could change about your experience cooking?” Reading through the responses validated my choice in focusing on taking classes on an interactive stove compared to being able to connect with friends and cook together. One thing we learned through this research is that most respondents did not feel as comfortable in the kitchen as I thought.
Using Research for Design
Based on my secondary & formative research, we were able to use the data we gathered to create user personas of potential Stoven users. The demographic of my survey included members ranging from young professionals to retired adults. Having a diverse set of user personas helps me make better design choices for all. During the design process our user personas helped us to visualize what problems we need to solve and the goals we will help our users to achieve when using Stoven.
Creating the site map for Stoven was the most important part of the Stoven process. Mapping out each section of the interface helped us during our research as well as during the design process. Having a solid foundation to look back upon while designing and thinking about the user experience when using the stove.
User Journey Map
After creating the user personas, we used those to create user journeys. Each user journey was based on how someone would find and participate in a cooking class by using the stove or by the Stoven app. By writing out each step the user would have to take & their feelings while doing it, we made sure that the user would complete this task as easily as possible. These helped inform my design choices down the road when we were creating the interface.
Next, we moved on to a more in-depth user flow. This user flow that we created for each of my personas informed all of the routes the user could take to complete different tasks throughout the Stoven experience. Since this is targeted to cooks of all ages and technical skills. We wanted to make sure that the experience of finding and participating in the class was as easy as possible with this being mounted behind the stove.
After working on our user flow and user journeys, we were able to start creating wireframes for what Stoven would look like. We designed what we thought would be the most important screens a user would need to have a positive experience using Stoven, with a lot of editing along the way. Many of the decisions we made were informed by my surveys and research that helped us create these wireframes. Including having a section that is dedicated to saved classes to go back to the classes they enjoyed. Since most who took the survey spent less than 1 hour in the kitchen cooking daily, we wanted to make the experience as quick and as easy as possible for users.
Brand Identity / Design Process
To start the visual components of my brand, We first researched competitor stoves & interactive cooking branding & logos to see what was working and what wasn’t. We noticed that many of the stove companies used mostly typographic logos with very minimal illustrations or design elements in the logo. When researching cooking logos were very friendly and inviting logos that involved some visual language that alluded to it was cooking. In terms of color palettes it seems as if most stove companies used very muted color pallets with a lot of greys to signify strength & durability, the interactive cooking brands used much brighter colors. As much as we enjoyed typographic logos I wanted to add an actual logo itself that can live on its own either with or without the typography that it included along with it.
The name Stoven comes from the combination of “Stove” and “Oven.” We wanted to create a name that felt fun and comfortable to say. I wanted to keep it to one word so that it could easily be said in conversation.
“I just took this class on Stoven last night, you should try it.”
Designing the logo
Now that we had done extensive logo research, It was time to move on to sketching the logo for Stoven. The main goal was that we wanted the logo to be appealing to both ends of this product, We wanted this to feel sturdy and solid due to the fact this is an actual stove & to be fun and inviting since this is an interactive stove to learn and share.
We went through many ideas in my sketches but this logo stood out to be the best & ended up being the Logo for Stoven. This logo is based on the ceramic heaters on top of the stove with one of the portions of the ceramic heaters mimicking the wifi logo to insinuate that this is interactive cooking where you can connect online. In terms of style, I took inspiration from both major stove companies and interactive cooking apps to create an inviting but trustworthy branding that can appeal to everyone.
Photography plays an important role in Stoven’s identity. Using photography of meals entices users and helps them make the best decision on what meal to make. We wanted to use photography that incorporates bold colors and clear imagery so users can see exactly what the end product they are cooking will look like. Most photography on Stoven’s interface is incorporated with a light gradient of the Stoven gold on the bottom to help the text bounce off the image to make sure the user is able to know the name of the dish.
When choosing whether or not to use icons in my branding and interface it was a toss-up, at first we did not use them but as we were designing the interface it felt as if something was missing. Having icons in the identity helps users be able to recognize what they are choosing without having to read as much information as possible. Most people can recognize these bold style icons and it helps them register what is on the screen at any given time.
Bringing all these brand identity pieces together we created a style guide to use when designing the interface of Stoven. Having a solid style guide helped us make quick decisions and save time when designing the interface by already having a solid foundation to fall back on.
Designing the stove
This was a unique task brought to us by our instructor to challenge the limits of what UX design could be. We were tasked to create an interface that was not mainly a mobile app or desktop. Besides the design of the interface, we also had to dream up what this stove could potentially be. Many UX designers including myself were so comfortable designing for mobile or desktop so this was especially challenging but this really helped me step out of my comfort zone and think of what the future could hold for technology & design.
When this idea first came to mind we wanted the stove & the interface to be connected in some way. I thought of the company peloton & how seamlessly the interface & the bike work together. When they deliver the bike to your house you just plug it in and start riding. We wanted the same experience for users when they were to receive their Stoven stove. When thinking of our users, research & talking to our professor we decided that so many people use stoves differently that there should be an option to have the Stoven interface retract if the users are not taking a class. We thought it’s important to think of every possible use this could have when designing.
The interface of Stoven along with many things was informed by our research. Since most people feel stressed out about cooking, we wanted to make the experience as easy as possible for users. Since this interface will be incorporated into the stove we wanted to make the cards as large and as readable as possible for people using Stoven while cooking. Getting the users into the app, choosing a class, and starting a class is something that we focused a lot of time on making as few clicks as possible.
When looking at the main screens of Stoven we wanted to create large cards of information so users to click on them easily. Since when we imagine this stove’s interface it would be behind the burners on the back part of the stove we wanted to limit the amount of time the user is leaning over the stove.
When thinking of onboarding we thought it would be important to have a list of ingredients when viewing the classes. Since there would be so many different types of classes, not every person would have all the ingredients already in their house so we included a shopping list feature when viewing the specific class where you can click on what you need and it would get sent right to your Stoven’s mobile apps shopping list to help you while you are out shopping.
When thinking of the business model of Stoven, it mostly came down to the “why” and helping people become better chefs. We also wanted to bring some fun into it as well. I developed a challenges section because during my research I realized how many people love cooking shows & how these shows influenced them to become better cooks. We wanted to bring that same excitement that these cooking shows gave them right to the experience of Stoven.
When designing something with so many different screens I wanted to create simple navigation that follows you during the entire experience of Stoven. When we were user testing this product we noticed that it was hard to navigate to other screens quickly without a navigation bar at the bottom. Since there is a lot of information along with the main screens we wanted to keep a sense of familiarity when using the stove. We also were thinking of safety and usability when designing this so that users could quickly and easily find the most important features of Stoven as safely as possible.
Thinking about how many people access recipes, we thought about how the mobile app would play into Stoven’s experience. We thought it would be important that the app would mostly serve the purpose of choosing classes & getting ingredients since the main experience is the Stove. Having a shopping list feature in the app would help users feel more comfortable and plan out their meals beforehand so they are not scrambling to get ingredients before their class. Having this would also promote users to expand the classes they take beyond based on what ingredients they have in the house.
With Stoven’s mobile app you could have the ingredients sent right to your phone and swing by the grocery store before heading home to take part in the class.
Extenuating the brand
Thinking of how this brand could be extenuated. We tried to think of what someone would want along with a stove we thought that the best thing to incorporate with the branding is cooking utensils. The biggest draw to buying a Stoven stove would be that you are cooking on the same stove as your instructor. Including products that Stoven users could purchase so they have the exact same utensils as their instructor would help make the users feel more comfortable cooking & have a way to connect with their favorite chefs.
When we thought of how many people would consume information about Stoven we thought social media would come into play to inform users about the upcoming live classes. Many times companies use their social media to get important information to their users in real-time. With the fact that some of these classes are taught live, we felt like social media would play an important role in helping users reserve classes that are coming up & are time-sensitive.
Thinking of how important social media plays into the overall branding and promotion of a brand I created two small video segments that could possibly play on billboards, television, YouTube ads or even bring it back to social media and post it on their page. I think these are important especially at the beginning of the brand to drum up interest in the brand.
Working on this project this semester helped solidify my choice into focusing on UX/UI Design as a career path. I have learned so much about UX/UI design this past semester, while also learning how to utilize branding to bring an idea to life. One of the most unique takeaways from this project was learning the value of my research. Being able to effectively design using research & thinking of all users instead of designing what “looks cool’’ felt like a huge step in the right direction for my career. Being able to work with my professor each week through the entire design process to craft this idea into what it is today was extremely valuable. This helped me become a better designer, constantly challenging myself each week. I look forward to pushing myself further in UX/UI design in my career moving forward.
Designer: Brett Sweeney
Art Direction: Abby Guido
Citations: How the pandemic is shaping home cooking trends, 2020. SmartBrief. URL smartbrief.com/original/2020/09/how-pandemic-shaping-home-cooking-trends