A comprehensive food site
About the project
SousChef is a website that gives users recipes based on the ingredients they already have, while allowing them to keep track of their groceries. Think of it as your personal kitchen assistant.
Class project for Interaction Design 1
September - December 2022 (14 weeks)
Busy people are unable to quickly find recipes that they have all the ingredients for.
How might we make recipe searching easier and quicker?
Many forget about the groceries they have, especially perishables, resulting in food waste.
How might we help people keep track of what ingredients they have?
To gain more perspective on my identified problems, I conducted 4 semi-structured interviews with 18-24 year-olds who cook and go grocery shopping often. And I learned a lot from them!
Identify various goals & values for cooking
Understand the average process of grocery shopping and subsequent organization
Uncover pain points to be addressed
Why do you cook?
Is there anything that gets in your way or slows you down during the cooking process?
How do you usually determine what to cook? When do you make that decision?
Could you tell me about the last time you went grocery shopping? Walk me through your process.
Want to do things the quickest and easiest way, especially when busy
Occasionally use grocery delivery apps to avoid commute and save time
Low effort for high reward
No one actually keeps track of their ingredients– it’s all a mental note
Will sometimes forget which perishable groceries have been bought, eventually resulting in them going bad
Many only cook out of necessity
Groceries are chosen based on diets and goals (e.g. pescatarian, high-protein)
If meals are planned at all, they are decided anywhere from a week before to the day of
Consistent food waste means financial losses that build up over time
Being too busy to decide what to cook
Uncertainty regarding what to do with certain ingredients
Using my browser's developer tools, I analyzed the desktop and mobile pages for Bon Appétit, Kitchn, Epicurious, and BigOven. I was then able to establish baselines and identify areas of improvement that I would keep in mind for my own site design. I also got a good idea of how these sites were using their color palettes and type hierarchies, and I gained inspiration for features I could include.
Add ingredients, both manually and using the receipt scanner
Find and save recipes based on the user’s ingredients
Use features on the recipe page to update ingredients
This was my first project working with both desktop and mobile displays. (Yay...?) There were definitely challenges along the way, but those became learning moments for me. Here's what I've learned:
I am not the (only) user. This whole project started because of a problem I myself experienced quite often: forgetting about the produce in my fridge and letting it go bad. So naturally, while I was designing SousChef, I had my own ideas and solutions. But by taking the time to understand multiple perspectives during the interview process, I gained a lot of valuable insight into different users' pain points and values, which helped me identify others' main problems and develop effective solutions to their problems.
Less is more... sometimes. I've always heard that "less is more" in design. I mean it makes sense-- the user has less to look through, so they reach their end goal more efficiently. So, I've adapted the principle of assuming everything is visual noise from the start and cutting out unnecessary elements. However, while testing the workflows with my classmates, I realized that I was actually getting rid of features that were important signifiers. So yes, quantity over quality, but users should also be given enough context to be able to navigate a site with ease.
This is not the end of SousChef. I've asked for and received constructive criticism throughout the entire process of designing this site, including after my final presentation. Feedback is a form of motivation to me, so I will continue iterating on this prototype and who knows, maybe even bring SousChef to a reality someday.