paprica

paprica

Role

Role

Product Designer

Product Designer

Responsibilities

Responsibilities

Ethnography, UX & UI Design

Ethnography, UX & UI Design

Type

Type

Case Study

Case Study

In the world where most digital platforms are designed for intermediate cooks, what would beginners do?

In the world where most digital platforms are designed for intermediate cooks, what would beginners do?

The Process

The Process

The Process

Understand & empathise

Understand & empathise

Understand & empathise

Making sense of the context:

Everyday people eat, sometimes they cook. According to competitive analysis of three related apps out there, most cooking apps available nowadays assume that people who cook have certain skills and knowledge. They all share the same presupposition — that users cook because they like it, and that they somewhat possess certain cooking skills. 


But what about beginners? What are their experiences of using cooking apps? 

What does cooking mean to them? 


User research: 

Rapid ethnography

Trained as an anthropologist, I am fully aware of the great benefits of ethnographic methods. I dived in to the research with a rather open question: what does cooking mean to my users? The answer to this question would grant me an insider’s perspective which would lead me to a more contextualised idea of the users’ needs.


I started the research by observing a potential user cook using participant observation technique, which means I was observing and assisting my user with her cooking tasks at the same time. Through observation, I found out that my potential user got overwhelmed when she did not know if what she was doing was correct. The repeated mistakes and the lack of information added up to the stress, which led her to giving up — instead of following the full recipe, she stopped and ate what she had. 


The pain point started already with washing and cutting vegetables. The lack of information provided by a cooking app led my potential user to improvise. However, she showed inconfidence in doing so. Because the app she was using did not give a timeframe for every step, things became more confusing for her at cooking stage. The level of stress increased when she felt like she did not have control over multiple tasks she was supposed to look after. Eventually, she said that she would just eat it the way it turned out, without completing the whole recipe. This led her to feel like she was incapable of cooking and that cooking apps are not for her.

Making sense of the context:

Everyday people eat, sometimes they cook. According to competitive analysis of three related apps out there, most cooking apps available nowadays assume that people who cook have certain skills and knowledge. They all share the same presupposition — that users cook because they like it, and that they somewhat possess certain cooking skills. 


But what about beginners? What are their experiences of using cooking apps? 

What does cooking mean to them? 


User research: 

Rapid ethnography

Trained as an anthropologist, I am fully aware of the great benefits of ethnographic methods. I dived in to the research with a rather open question: what does cooking mean to my users? The answer to this question would grant me an insider’s perspective which would lead me to a more contextualised idea of the users’ needs.


I started the research by observing a potential user cook using participant observation technique, which means I was observing and assisting my user with her cooking tasks at the same time. Through observation, I found out that my potential user got overwhelmed when she did not know if what she was doing was correct. The repeated mistakes and the lack of information added up to the stress, which led her to giving up — instead of following the full recipe, she stopped and ate what she had. 


The pain point started already with washing and cutting vegetables. The lack of information provided by a cooking app led my potential user to improvise. However, she showed inconfidence in doing so. Because the app she was using did not give a timeframe for every step, things became more confusing for her at cooking stage. The level of stress increased when she felt like she did not have control over multiple tasks she was supposed to look after. Eventually, she said that she would just eat it the way it turned out, without completing the whole recipe. This led her to feel like she was incapable of cooking and that cooking apps are not for her.

.

Deep Interviews

To dig deeper into the users’ needs and experiences, I conducted three semi-structured deep interviews with Anna, Sara, and Luke. My aims were to first understand their experiences in cooking, and determine what about cooking they find important. When I have a deeper understanding of how users make sense of their cooking, I can determine not only what their frustrations are, but also which ones actually matter to them. 


The findings are rather interesting and suggest different perspectives that each person has on cooking. Each is highly related to their characters and lifestyles. Cooking is, for Anna, about the experience. It is clear from the interview that she values the moment of cooking when she shares thoughts and activities with her friends and boyfriend. It is the experience itself that is appealing for her and gives her satisfaction. That is the reason why she does not enjoy her food if she feels like she did not put enough love in it.


For Sara, however, cooking is, essentially, a way to get healthy. She finds knowing about the ingredients rewarding. When she cooks healthy food for herself or for other people, she feels fulfilled.


Luke, on the other hand, thinks cooking is very important, although he sees it relatively much simpler. Unlike other interviewees who could find cooking overwhelming, Luke sees cooking as just another thing to do. He does not feel stressed out when things do not go according to the instructions. What is important for him is having choices for his vegetarian lifestyle and more versatile skills in cooking. 

Deep Interviews

To dig deeper into the users’ needs and experiences, I conducted three semi-structured deep interviews with Anna, Sara, and Luke. My aims were to first understand their experiences in cooking, and determine what about cooking they find important. When I have a deeper understanding of how users make sense of their cooking, I can determine not only what their frustrations are, but also which ones actually matter to them. 


The findings are rather interesting and suggest different perspectives that each person has on cooking. Each is highly related to their characters and lifestyles. Cooking is, for Anna, about the experience. It is clear from the interview that she values the moment of cooking when she shares thoughts and activities with her friends and boyfriend. It is the experience itself that is appealing for her and gives her satisfaction. That is the reason why she does not enjoy her food if she feels like she did not put enough love in it.


For Sara, however, cooking is, essentially, a way to get healthy. She finds knowing about the ingredients rewarding. When she cooks healthy food for herself or for other people, she feels fulfilled.


Luke, on the other hand, thinks cooking is very important, although he sees it relatively much simpler. Unlike other interviewees who could find cooking overwhelming, Luke sees cooking as just another thing to do. He does not feel stressed out when things do not go according to the instructions. What is important for him is having choices for his vegetarian lifestyle and more versatile skills in cooking. 

Define the problems

Define the problems

The research suggests the following five pain points which are critical to the user experience: 


  1. Complication. Having the understanding of how my potential users see cooking really gives a deep insight. Every potential user does not enjoy cooking because they see cooking as complication that need careful attention to every detail. Although not every interviewee was looking for a way to optimise their cooking experience, all of them agree that cooking is important and should be simple. However, currently available apps do not share this view.

  2. Lack of ideas for alternatives. All of my interviewees experienced that many recipes required too many ingredients they did not have. Some of the missing ingredients were something they barely used in their kitchen. They needed ideas for substitutes for the ingredients they missed.

  3. Multitasking. Three out of four interviewees found multitasking stressful. They understood the need for accuracy in terms of timing, but timing several tasks at the same time overwhelmed them.

  4. Foreign ingredients. Every potential user would like to explore new dishes, but they had struggled with not knowing rare the ingredients before. This led them to stick to what they were used to and not try new ones, even if they wanted to.

  5. Less choices on apps, more on Google. One of the reasons some of the interviewees preferred web searching over apps was the fact that they felt like they would not find enough recipes they would like on apps.

The research suggests the following five pain points which are critical to the user experience: 


  1. Complication. Having the understanding of how my potential users see cooking really gives a deep insight. Every potential user does not enjoy cooking because they see cooking as complication that need careful attention to every detail. Although not every interviewee was looking for a way to optimise their cooking experience, all of them agree that cooking is important and should be simple. However, currently available apps do not share this view.

  2. Lack of ideas for alternatives. All of my interviewees experienced that many recipes required too many ingredients they did not have. Some of the missing ingredients were something they barely used in their kitchen. They needed ideas for substitutes for the ingredients they missed.

  3. Multitasking. Three out of four interviewees found multitasking stressful. They understood the need for accuracy in terms of timing, but timing several tasks at the same time overwhelmed them.

  4. Foreign ingredients. Every potential user would like to explore new dishes, but they had struggled with not knowing rare the ingredients before. This led them to stick to what they were used to and not try new ones, even if they wanted to.

  5. Less choices on apps, more on Google. One of the reasons some of the interviewees preferred web searching over apps was the fact that they felt like they would not find enough recipes they would like on apps.

Ideate

Ideate

At this point, the challenging task is to design an experience that matters to people whose ideas about cooking vary greatly. For the product at this stage, I tried to keep the important needs to three flows, so that I could design them to fully corresponds to my users' needs.


1) Simple and clear. One common need is an app that is simple and straightforward. Every potential user wants something that help reduce their stress, thus it would be reasonable to develop the app with a strong focus on the content. The app should help users to remain calm and focused by giving them one task at a time. In terms of the visual, the app should have step-by-step pictorial instructions so that the users have clear ideas of what to expect. 


2) Offering alternatives. All the interviewees find it frustrating when they do not know what to replace when they don’t have certain ingredients. Therefore, the function that suggests substitutes for their lacking ingredients appears to be important to them. 


3) Search function with advanced filters. The reason some interviewees prefer web searching was because they believed they could find better results from other sources. Therefore, having advanced filters would help them define their search results as well as preventing them from having too many choices, by providing them with only the results that they might want to try. 

At this point, the challenging task is to design an experience that matters to people whose ideas about cooking vary greatly. For the product at this stage, I tried to keep the important needs to three flows, so that I could design them to fully corresponds to my users' needs.


1) Simple and clear. One common need is an app that is simple and straightforward. Every potential user wants something that help reduce their stress, thus it would be reasonable to develop the app with a strong focus on the content. The app should help users to remain calm and focused by giving them one task at a time. In terms of the visual, the app should have step-by-step pictorial instructions so that the users have clear ideas of what to expect. 


2) Offering alternatives. All the interviewees find it frustrating when they do not know what to replace when they don’t have certain ingredients. Therefore, the function that suggests substitutes for their lacking ingredients appears to be important to them. 


3) Search function with advanced filters. The reason some interviewees prefer web searching was because they believed they could find better results from other sources. Therefore, having advanced filters would help them define their search results as well as preventing them from having too many choices, by providing them with only the results that they might want to try. 

Prototype & Validate

Prototype & Validate

Usability testing

Testing Goals

I tested to assess the learnability for new users interacting with the cooking app “paprica" on iOS mobile. I would like to observe if the new users can understand the basic functionality of the app as well as to identify how easily it is for them to complete login, search recipe, search for ingredient substitutes, and follow the cooking instructions functions. 


Objectives

1. Measure how quickly the users can use the search-for-recipe function.
2. Measure how easily for the users to look for substitutes for ingredients.
3. Observe how easily the users go to the recipe and follow the cooking steps. 

Usability testing

Testing Goals

I tested to assess the learnability for new users interacting with the cooking app “paprica" on iOS mobile. I would like to observe if the new users can understand the basic functionality of the app as well as to identify how easily it is for them to complete login, search recipe, search for ingredient substitutes, and follow the cooking instructions functions. 


Objectives

1. Measure how quickly the users can use the search-for-recipe function.
2. Measure how easily for the users to look for substitutes for ingredients.
3. Observe how easily the users go to the recipe and follow the cooking steps. 

The Solution

The Solution

The Solution

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