Concept Design & UX Case Study
User Research gained during the project discovery highlighted frustrations and often fears people experience catering for changes in dietary needs for both themselves and others.
There is no cure for food allergies, a strict avoidance diet is the only way to manage these conditions, often putting a strain on the food allergic person, their family and friends.
Shows such as the ‘Great British Bake Off’ are dominating TV ratings making it the most watched programme of 2016. As a result the current state of market is saturated with baking recipe apps but they fail to address the increasing numbers of people suffering from food allergies, hypersensitivity and intolerances unless the app is tailored towards a specific diet such as vegan.
The number of people with allergies grows by 5% every year, and 1/2 of these people are children
500% increase in food allergies since 1990
At least 1/100 people have coeliac disease
How can home bakers easily find and/or modify recipes to specific dietary requirements and food preferences?
14 competitor apps were analysed on strengths and weaknesses as well as feature inventory. It was interesting to combine user outcomes mentioned during the interviews with features to gain an understanding of which apps met the user goals the most.
Key Takeaways from Competitive Analysis
- Keyword Search & Category Search:
All but 1 app used these features, keyword search became particularly powerful in aiding the user find a recipe they liked when suggestions appeared and changed as the user typed, refining the search.
1 app allowed the user to search by multiple ingredients they had available in the fridge/cupboards.
61% of these apps compared also used a filter function to speed up the user’s search, user interviews indicated that their busy lives meant they didn’t have a long time to spend searching and if they couldn’t find what they wanted quickly they would go elsewhere. Many also said they like to find recipes that only take a certain amount of time to complete. Sorting the results is of less importance as only 14% of app tested used this feature.
- Sign up for an account:
Again 9 of the 14 apps compared have this feature however of those only one didn’t require the user to sign up unless they wanted to and the rest were an equal split of immediate sign up (sometimes before onboarding|) and sign up to utilise save and review recipe features within the app.
When tested on users the immediate sign up proved to be a block which put them off before they had seen the apps content and had time to decide if they wanted to invest in the signup process. Users seemed happier when they had time to explore the app and it’s features before committing to provide their email address, this way they enjoyed making an investment.
10 of the 14 apps have a share feature, 60% of those use inbuilt ios share functionality.
- Like recipes:
With social media platforms such as Facebook and instagram featuring so heavily in the results from user interviews it’s no wonder that 71% of the apps tested have a ‘Like’ feature mostly using a heart icon as does Instagram.
- Add to Shopping List:
11 of 14 apps tested have an add the ingredients to a shopping list making it a highly prioritised. Most apps added all the ingredients straight to a list whereas Yum Yum allowed users to select individual items as well. User testing showed that adding everything automatically to the list was more time consuming and frustrating as users had to individually remove to cross out items they already have. 54% of those apps let the user add individual items to the list for one a list only shopping experience.
Features that aren’t so frequent in the tested apps but are valuable requirements according to the user interviews are: (percentages are in the apps tested)
- Review recipe (50%)
- Rate recipe (35%)
- Group recipes (35%)
- One step at a time Cooking Mode (35%)
- Nutritional Info (35%)
- Add a note to a recipe for later use (14%)
The more features present doesn’t necessarily create a better product.
User interviews backed up an interest and gap in the competitive market for adaptable recipes with alternatives to certain ingredients
- 37, Married
- Mother of 2 children
- History Teacher
- From Warwickshire
Week days are very busy for Kathryn with work and the children so she likes to plan ahead and do all the grocery shopping online to have more time for the family at weekends, which are often spent away visiting friends and family or the children have ‘play dates’ with their friends.
She loves watching cooking programs such as Great British Bake Off, Masterchef and Great British Menu when she isn’t marking books and her husband lets her have the remote. Baking is a hobby of hers which she wishes she had more time to do.
- Find ‘healthier’ bribes with less refined sugar to give the children for good behaviour and a more peaceful life for mum and dad.
- Fussy eaters and children's’ friends having food allergies meaning sometimes her usual go to ‘tried and tested’ recipes can’t be used.
- No time to go to the shops if she has forgotten something, she has to work with what she’s got in the cupboards.
- Wants a trusted resource of recipes to use time and again.
- A collection of recipes for each of her children’s friends who have dietary requirements.
Kathryn needs a quick, easy way to find and save trusted recipes that fulfill different food preferences because her children have friends with different dietary needs.
- 34, Quantity surveyor
- Lives with girlfriend, Claire
- From London
Ben maintains a very good but busy work/life balance either socialising after work or trying to stay in shape down the gym.
For him, food is one of life’s great pleasures and over the years he has built quite the reputation as ‘star baker’ amongst his friends who get together once a month for a home cooked Sunday Roast club, Ben’s desserts are not to be missed! He’ll plan ahead and try experimenting with different ingredients to wow his friends. Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan the first time.
Ben finds interesting new recipe ideas from the internet and social media especially instagram as he follows all the top chefs. He tends to use his laptop in the kitchen to follow the instructions the first time he makes a new dish but this means he doesn’t have much space on the worktop.
- In an effort to be healthier he buys alternative ingredients from the health food store but experimentation to incorporate them into his favourite baking recipes has led to a few disasters in the kitchen which is costly both in time and money.
- Find ‘healthier’ treat / post workout recipes tailored to both him and Claire who has just been diagnosed as Celiac.
- To follow recipes without having space on the worktops taken up.
- A place to add cryptic notes he makes when planning a bake for the lunch club.
A key insight from user interviews suggested that baking can be daunting especially trying something new as it is often referred to being ‘like a science’, you need exact quantities of ingredients for a successful and tasty bake. Change or remove one ingredient and the whole thing can end up having to go in the bin.
Ideation sketches were used to reduce the risk and create lots of ideas around the defined problem. How can home bakers easily find, save and/or modify recipes to specific dietary requirements and food preferences?
- Kathryn (mum) checks her diary for the week ahead. The kids have a play date with Sammy on Saturday.
- The weather ahead looks nice, 'a picnic perhaps' thinks mum.
- The children have an upcoming play date with their friend Sammy who is celliac. So mum opens the app and uses the Category Search where she has saved Sammy’s dietary preferences.
- Mum finds a recipe she likes that is gluten free and low sugar. Mum adds the ingredients she needs to a shopping list for an online shop.
- 24 hours later all the ingredients are delivered to the door… Then all mum has to do is get baking! Thanks mum!
- Ben goes shopping in a health food and spots a new ingredient “Agave I’ll give that a try, it looks healthier than sugar”.
- Ben has all the ingredients and his Kenwood Chef out ready to start baking.
- Ben opens the app and finds the recipe he saved to make Claire’s birthday cake.
- Ben clicks on ‘Caster Sugar’ in the ingredients list and makes a swop for Agave syrup instead and the recipe adjusts accordingly.
- Ben made a perfect cake first time with a new ingredient that wasn’t in the original recipe.
Mum’s happy path is in two parts, for the first she is a returning user who has previously created a category preference for Sammy who is celiac and can only have gluten free food when he comes over to play with the other children. Mum can quickly find suitable recipes using the category search, and save the recipe for later use, add the ingredients to a shopping list and share the list to the format she needs.
Once she has the ingredients needed Mum can continue following the happy path in part two, finding the previously saved recipe to cook for Sammy and the other children and enter the easy to follow step by step cooking mode.
Ben’s Happy path is based on the assumption that he is a returning user who has previously found and saved a recipe he likes which is he planning on cooking in time for his girlfriend’s birthday using an alternative ingredient picked from a list of possible choices.