Create a feature for this cooking app that lets users substitute ingredients

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SAVR: Competetive Analysis

From the three personas presented, I tended to group John (I don't like this ingredient) and Nicole (I want to convert this recipe for my vegetarian lifestyle) together on the assumption that because they have known preferences, they will scan the recipe for red flags before starting to shop or prepare the meal.

I also assumed that users like Lena (I don't have this ingredient) might not find out that they need to make a substitution until they are already in the process of preparing the meal and need to make a decision quickly (before they burn something).

With these two assumptions in mind, I wanted to investigate how other apps handle presenting choices to users in two cases: 1) when a preference is known and not likely to change (i.e. John and Nicole); and 2) when the need for a substitute is immediate and unforeseen

1. Yummly

Yummly is an app that matches recipes to the users' cooking lifestyle based on nutrition, diet, food allergies, and favorite cuisines.

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Yummly tries to learn a users preferences over time by getting feedback from recipes that users save and prepare. Over time, Yummly is supposed to get better at selecting recipes that the user will like based on their previous choices. This probably requires a high degree of commitment from the user before the curated recipes are dialed in to their preferences, but the payoff is finding new recipes that match preferences without having to do any additional work.

It does not allow individual ingredient substitutions, but the comments often contain recommendations from other users who have tried the recipes and made their own adjustments.

2. Stitcher

Stitcher is an app that helps users find, download, and stream their favorite podcasts.

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Users can select their favorite podcasts by searching by name or by browsing through broad categories. Stitcher also helps users find new podcasts by making recommendations based on their favorite shows. Selecting by category seems like one way to define a users preferences and filter out unwanted content up front in a way that becomes invisible but is always changeable.

3. Tinder

Whatever you think of Tinder, it does one thing very well...sort of. Tinder is a social app that helps users find "friends, dates, relationships and everything in between," by allowing people to swipe through an almost endless stack of profile pictures. Users can "like" or "pass" on other users with a swipe-right or swipe-left, respectively. The swipe as employed by Tinder has come to define making quick selections easily.

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The touch gesture is quick, simple, and easy (insert your own joke about Tinder users here) which is also useful in situations where time-sensitive decisions need to be when you have a meal on the stove and are missing an ingredient.

The problem for Tinder is that endless choices don't make better decisions. There are by some estimates over 12 million Tinder users daily. Could a user swipe through 12 million profile pics in theory? Without constraints, it can be easy to lose sight of the purpose of the interaction. Alternatives could be constrained by user feedback (i.e. ### of users substituted X for Y).

4. Tasty Burger

Tasty Burger is a food ordering app for a chain restaurant that allows users to customize the ingredients or build their own burger. After selecting the burger from the menu screen, users can browse through the ingredients by category (e.g. bun, cheese, vegetables, meat, etc.) and make changes based on their preferences. Users can see how their selections affect the price of their order as they pick ingredients.

Tasty burger customize screens

Here is a video of the customization flow:

This example provides a simple, straightforward model for changing ingredients. In the case of SAVR, it might be useful to a user to see how changing ingredients change the cooking time or calorie count much like changing ingredients in a tasty burger updates the price.

Ideation with Crazy 8s

Following my investigation into other apps that help present choices to users, I started to generate some ideas about how I might present ingredient alternatives to users in the SAVR app. I used the Crazy 8s technique, to generate eight quick sketches exploring possible solutions..

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Lo Fi Sketching

Following up on the Crazy 8s ideation and competitive analysis, I selected two aspects to guide the interaction for the substitute ingredient feature: 1) using the users' profile to set some constraints on the recipes that SAVR will show based on preferences (i.e. diet, allergies, and disliked ingredients); and 2) being able to swipe ingredients to select substitutes that are selected based on how frequently of use.

I began to sketch some wireframe screens to define key interactions. Another consideration will be how to collect information about how and what other users have substituted in recipes.

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Eric Asato

I used to be an architectural designer but have since come to my senses. Now I am attempting to combine my design skills and experience with recent learning at a UX bootcamp into a new career in UX design.

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