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Cooking Website Dissertation

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Hi everyone,

 

My dissertation's working title is "what are the key features for a successful cooking website?" - I'm reviewing literature at the moment which references website success (DeLone and McLean's IS Success Model) and I've found it quite interesting so far.  I'm reviewing other mediums too - Cook books, websites to gather as much information as possible so that I can create a questionnaire that is as concise and useful as it can be.

 

The overall objective is to obtain a prioritised list of website features (hopefully with something unique) with the longer term goal of creating (another) cooking website. 

 

My analysis has already told me that it's an extremely unattractive market but my personal objective isn't to monetise it, but to help people use up leftover ingredients and therefore reduce their food waste. With my family being my first "customer".

 

So with this in mind, what do you consider important for a cookery website and are there any needs that existing cookery websites don't cater for?


Edited by home-cook (log)

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One thing that is turning me off of some sites is the excessive photography.  Do i really need to see what a dish looks like before AND after adding salt to it?  Maybe that is just me, but i have stopped subscribing to some websites because of it.

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I would like recipes to be more informative about the size of ingredients...3 onions or 4 eggplants...I'd prefer weights.  But then American sources don't do weights.  

 

The other reason I have left some websites is the frequency of the downloads...just too often for my taste.  

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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9 hours ago, Darienne said:

I would like recipes to be more informative about the size of ingredients...3 onions or 4 eggplants...I'd prefer weights.  But then American sources don't do weights.  

 

The other reason I have left some websites is the frequency of the downloads...just too often for my taste.  

 

I completely agree with the quantity of ingredients and was hoping to do something like this as a differentiating factor (I'm also half hoping that it's already been done and somebody shares a link :)

 

What do you mean by frequency of the downloads - do some sites force you to download the recipes or is it the amount of advertising?


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On your "things to avoid" list, be sure to include popups that prompt me to subscribe, follow, sign up for the email list or take a survey about the site before I've actually had any opportunity to even read the page. I spend most of my day looking at websites in the line of duty (I'm a freelance writer, and spend 2-3 hours on research for every hour of writing), and few things are more infuriating. 

 

Actually bad site navigation tools irritate the heck out of me, too. There should be multiple ways to find anything on the site, and they should be clearly visible. Speaking of which, you know that style trend that uses dark grey lettering on pale grey backgrounds (or the polychromatic equivalent) rather than that tedious, old-fashioned black and white? Don't do it. Just don't. For anyone whose eyesight is even slightly impaired, it makes the site nearly illegible. I'm still blessed with excellent vision but this has become a real issue for some of my freelance colleagues. I know that's more of a general rant than food site-specific, but I offer it fwiw. 

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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4 hours ago, home-cook said:

 

What do you mean by frequency of the downloads - do some sites force you to download the recipes or is it the amount of advertising?

The websites turn up on one's FB timeline or in the email list several times a week.  Once a week is more than enough for me.  I have other online commitments and sometimes end up plowing through endless unwanted stuff trying to find the posts I need to interact with ...a situation I'm dealing with as we speak.  I've dropped websites because they just keep on bombarding me with posts or emails. 

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I agree with both Chromedome and Darienne.  It is extremely annoying to be asked to subscribe to the newsletter/blog/whatever when you are already subscribed to it.  It does not endear me to the site.

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On 9/9/2017 at 6:34 PM, Darienne said:

I would like recipes to be more informative about the size of ingredients

 

Yes, some garlic cloves are 3 or 4 times larger than others!!! O.o

 

15 hours ago, chromedome said:

Actually bad site navigation tools irritate the heck out of me...

 

Yes, Me too! I hate it!

Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) by Steve Krug

 

My best advise is, keep it short and simple!

 

Unfortunately, I think the web is overflowing with cooking related websites so it may be very difficult to come up with something unique that will stand out. :(

 

Anyway, David Lebovitz wrote what I think is a good article on Food Blogging a few years ago. There are a lot of good tips in it—not just blogging specific tidbits.
Food Blogging by David Lebovitz 02.25.2011 

 

Years ago I thought that the recipe sharing website Recipezaar.com (now Food.com) was good—there were a lot of great contributors there.

After Scripps Networks, which owns the Food Network, bought it and changed it to Food.com—it completely destroyed the unique, close friendly atmosphere of what used to be Recipezaar.com. :(

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~Martin :)

I try to find the good food in every situation!

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Thank you everybody for your thoughts - My research is supposed to be unbiased but I completely agree with everything you've all said.  Steve Krug's book is one I know well and it reminds me of a quote I heard (I can't remember where) - 

 

"User experience is like a joke - if you need to explain it, it's not very good."

 

It could well be that at the end of this (probably long) process following my dissertation, the only person who'll ever use my site will be me! Knowing that I share the same views as all of you though, there's potential for a few extra visitors :)

 

(I won't have time to spam you with blogs and facebook articles!)

 

4 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

Unfortunately, I think the web is overflowing with cooking related websites so it may be very difficult to come up with something unique that will stand out. :(

 

I agree.  There are literally thousands of existing websites - I haven't been able to find one which does the "using up ingredients" thing well but there's nothing to say I'll be able to do it well either.  I enjoy cooking, have a passion for it and have worked in the web industry (with an accessibility and usability focus (well before it was called user experience)) for nearly 20 years so fingers crossed I have the right motivation and credentials! Success for me is to create something I'm really proud of and enjoy using myself - this has fared me well in the past so hopefully it will here too!

 

Please keep the ideas and things to avoid coming.  I really, really appreciate the time you're giving me and your input!

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I wasn't thinking clearly late last night! DUH! sad1.gif

If you can come up with something that has a very unique calculator, planner or something else JavaScript or HTML 5, it has the potential to draw significant interest.

My meat curing calculator page (which is badly in need of an update and transfer to a new server) fills a special niche and gets a lot of monthly traffic!

HTH

 

:)

 

 


~Martin :)

I try to find the good food in every situation!

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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One thing I especially hate on cooking websites is the slide show display for recipes, where you have to click again to view another recipe. So if, say, I'm searching for recipes for farro, and go to some site that promises recipes for salads using farro, I want to see a list of recipes, not 15 thumbnail images of dishes made with farro where I have to click on the slideshow 15 times to even see the names of the recipes.  I leave sites immediately when forced into this, and won't return to those sites. 

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I'm hoping you're allowed to share links - would you mind sharing with me your favourite site?

 

I've been through so many today and have found a mixed bag.  What has surprised me is the number of features available - some really need stripping back!! I'm really looking forward to getting the results from the questionnaire I've not written yet to see what users actually want! They (you) can't possibly want all of the features I've seen today!

 

I think I've just experienced what @Darienne was referring to.  I had to close at least 3 different overlays whilst scrolling down the page of one particular website - More determined in achieving their objective (getting me signed up (for whatever reason)) than mine (reading the recipe!) :angry:

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I think there are a lot of great comments here.  I share the intense dislike of clickbait slide shows, and even when I'm looking for something to do with a particular ingredient I may only click on the first one or two recipes. It depends in part on how long the page takes to load, and *that* in turn seems to depend on the number and intrusiveness of advertisements.  (To be honest, I spend more time here on eGullet than on other cooking sites in part because it is advert-free.) Incidentally, adverts that immediately start in video mode are a sure-fire way to make me leave the site.

 

With regard to cooking amounts: I do weigh when I'm baking, but in general go by volume when I'm cooking and using a recipe. I agree that "1 onion, chopped" is vague; however, "1-1/2 cups onion, finely chopped" reduces the uncertainty due to the size of the initial ingredient.  Another refinement I can think of is to say just how critical the quantity is.  If it's 1-3/4 c onion is that a problem? How important is the size of the chop?  Uncertainty bars are too nerdy for a cookbook, ranges ("1-2 c finely chopped onion depending on your taste") might be cumbersome - but useful for unsure cooks.

 

I have seen websites that allow a recipe to be scaled up or down depending on the number of servings desired, and that specify a serving size.  I find the scaling feature to be very helpful.

 

The idea of finding recipes based on ingredients to be used up before they're tossed would have a lot of appeal, if the site worked well otherwise.  For ideas on how people think - at least around here - you might take a look at this topic: Create my meal - the game. I think we've had similar topics over the years; if I find more, I'll post them here for inspiration.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I like good writing; some humor, some snark, something that'll make me smile. I used to LOVE "Thursday Night Smackdown," which, alas, is no more. Ditto "Dark Side of the Fridge."

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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13 hours ago, Smithy said:

The idea of finding recipes based on ingredients to be used up before they're tossed would have a lot of appeal, if the site worked well otherwise.  For ideas on how people think - at least around here - you might take a look at this topic: Create my meal - the game. I think we've had similar topics over the years; if I find more, I'll post them here for inspiration.

 

I love that topic! I'd join in if it were still going - the reason sartoric started it is exactly the challenge behind my motivation (along with needing to find a dissertation topic!)

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 I can remember a time when there was a need for something like that. Something that would suggest ways to use up leftover ingredients or simply ways to use what is on hand. But now all one has to do is type in the ingredient or ingredients into Google and ask,  "What can I make with...?"  

 

You will likely be presented with hundreds of ideas.  Some are even worth pursuing as they come from sites that I consider quite  reliable. 

 

 I do this frequently and I am astounded at some of the options that I had never even considered. 

 

 Even I started a topic on what to do with various leftovers but it's hard to sustain it. 

 

 The problem with using up leftovers is often, I think, that one ends up with even more leftovers as one buys ingredients to make a dish to use up something that's already leftover! xD

 

 

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

The problem with using up leftovers is often, I think, that one ends up with even more leftovers as one buys ingredients to make a dish to use up something that's already leftover!

 

:D That's what I end up doing!

 

I think Google's fantastic for finding recipes but the struggle I have is that if I have 150g chicken, 400g chickpeas and 200g potatoes - what can I do with them? I end up finding a recipe that needs 1kg chicken, 400g chickpeas and 1kg potatoes or 50g chicken, no chickpeas and 1kg potatoes, etc.

 

What the world needs ;) is for somebody smarter than me to write a Google "plug in" that sieves through all of the recipes and finds the closest match (i.e. Jamie Oliver's chicken and chickpea curry served with sag aloo is a 91% match for your ingredients).  That would be amazing. @DiggingDogFarm - I sense that you're good at coding - the world needs you!

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2 minutes ago, home-cook said:

(i.e. Jamie Oliver's chicken and chickpea curry served with sag aloo is a 91% match for your ingredients)

 

Oh, and it'll also need to tell you: "that you need 15 other ingredients so you'd better go shopping"


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28 minutes ago, home-cook said:

@DiggingDogFarm - I sense that you're good at coding - the world needs you!

 

No! Not at all!

I'm not good at anything other than eating! xD

 

ETA: I built my calculator with the generous help of Phil Young over in the UK, http://www.localfoodheroes.co.uk/


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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~Martin :)

I try to find the good food in every situation!

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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2 hours ago, Anna N said:

 I can remember a time when there was a need for something like that. Something that would suggest ways to use up leftover ingredients or simply ways to use what is on hand. But now all one has to do is type in the ingredient or ingredients into Google and ask,  "What can I make with...?"  

 

Search blogger Tara Calishain came up with a Google Custom Search...oh, 12 or so years ago...called "Cookin' With Google" that streamlines the process. I've used it off and on since day 1. 

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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 Interesting but not exactly user-friendly. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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The recipes MUST be tested by responsible people at the website prior to being published. This is what makes the best food websites (ATK, Saveur, Food & Wine, Martha) appealing is that there is an editor who can answer questions. On the ATK site, they have a team of about a thousand readers try a recipe out and comment on it before publication and after the test kitchen staff runs it through its paces -generally testing it in-house 50-100 times.

 

And, dry measurements by weight.

 

I have seen several sites over the years dedicated to using up leftovers. As people have mentioned, they can be frustrating when you don't have the other items. I also tend to think that about a dozen flexible recipes solve the problem for most people. Cold salad items: make sushi or a composed salad. Cooked meats: enchiladas or burritos. Rice: fried rice.Italian pastas: timpano. Fritattas for almost everything else.

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 I think the biggest problem with using up leftovers is not about the usual stuff that we have in the fridge but that extra special ingredient we bought for one particular recipe.  I'm thinking miso, curry pastes, capers (to some they are a staple and to others an exotic ingredient), harissa,  and dozens more.  If only you could buy just a tablespoon of some of these ingredients. 

 

I think Fine Cooking once had a rather good section on using up such things. I think I remember some interesting uses for Thai red curry paste.  Should have saved that!

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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