El Cocinario: a personal project
The Internet is full of resources for people who like to cook. But most of them still don't provide the most difficult question: what do I do to eat today.
This project arose in the context of the confinement caused by COVID-19, when many of us find ourselves rediscovering the kitchen and experimenting with new recipes. As someone who enjoys cooking a lot, for me cooking is a form of social relationship and of showing appreciation and affection for the people I cook for.
- During the confinement, people's interest in cooking as a form of leisure spiked.
- Most people enjoy cooking for social occasions, but not so much for day-to-day life.
- The most tedious part is deciding what to cook or improvise from the available ingredients.
- Special needs influence eating habits, and sometimes it generates anxiety.
- How could the selection of the recipe to be cooked be simplified?
- How can increase traditional cuisine appreciation?
- What value do advanced nutrition data, environmental impact, etc. provide?
- What are the shortcomings of the current recipe proposals on the internet?
Understanding the challenge
The main idea arose very early, and I quickly understood that to change the focus with which the typical digital recipe books are addressed, it was necessary to better understand the relationship between the elements that make up any kitchen.
This reflection gives us arguments to address a typical barrier in the cooking process: selecting the recipe. The initial concept was, therefore, to build an information architecture that allows the classic exploration by recipes, but also a new way of discovering the kitchen from the ingredients. And that's why this isn't a recipe book. It's El Cocinario.
Establishing the principles
The main concept that guides the Cook focuses on cooking as an experience, and how each person within their circumstances lives the fact of preparing food to consume. The kitchen's mission is summarized in "helping you discover and enjoy cooking without complications."
To address something so broad, it must first be simplified, so I defined three principles that will ensure that, when making design decisions, it helps me make them by having the necessary sensitivity to this ambitious diversity.
Something that I have been very clear about for a long time is that this project is for simmering. The important thing is to create a different and satisfying experience, and the first decision was zero intrusive advertising. I am baraging several options such as income channels that I will work on later when they make sense.
I carried out two card sorting investigations. The first of them helped me to understand the mental model of users related to the classification of recipes and navigation expectations, while the second helped me understand how to open the design of a recipe by identifying the relative importance of each data.
Ideation and validation
The architecture raises a hierarchy based on entities (at the moment ingredients and recipes) that have an interrelationship between them and can be explored through searches. Around this idea arise several types of content that can be presented in the product:
- Home: which presents the product and its characteristics.
- Detail: where a detail of the ingredient or the recipe is presented.
- Collections: which allows you to present groupings of one or more entities based on criteria, a very scalable concept.
- Information: more static, such as the Support the project section.
The process of designing a layout that accommodated this variety of screens led, after several iterations, to a structure based on a navigation column (which in responsive becomes a header) and a space for content divided into three zones: a header, a sidebar that in responsive becomes a slider, and a body for general content.
The validation throughout the ideation was mainly based on the contrast with acquaintances, even other designers.
Although I have some UI skills, it was a better idea to base the visual identity on some of the many proposals on the internet. For the first version I chose a design in Sketch App Sources called Recipe App Screens as the basis for the visual identity of the product.
Months after the launch, I collaborated with Cristina Monteserín to review the visual identity and better support the growing information architecture.
If you want to know more details about this project, do not hesitate to get in touch.Contact
After publishing the first version and planning a roadmap of improvements based on user feedback, I quickly found that the information architecture had to be expanded to include more data (nutritional, environmental, practicality). The current version already has many of these changes, but there is more work in progress.
First version of the Kitchen.
Current home of El Cocinario. The background gradient and cover recommendations are customized according to the time and local weather of the user.
The home also presents the currently seasonal ingredients and a list of recipes as inspiration for the user.
The list of recipes shows the time and difficulty, the two most relevant values according to the research. They are categorized by the type of recipe and allow a variety of filtering.
The detail sheet of a recipe includes a lot of information that must be carefully organized. This view is in constant iteration with small and frequent changes..
This expanded detail of the nutritional profile is being redesigned with the aim of not only showing the information, but also facilitating understanding and decision-making.