November 26th, 2007

Six Recipe Sites: Taste-tested

AQ loves to bake, steam, peel… and eat. We talk about food as much as design. What happens when the two meet?

We at AQ love to bake, steam, stew, chop, and peel, and eat; we spend about as much time talking about food as we do about design. So we decided to see what happens when the two meet, by dissecting a handful of the most popular recipe sites. Bon appétit!

Wooden Spoon rating:
If All Recipes was a chef it would be: Your mom

Umai! (tasty!)
  • Postcard-sized printouts show respect offline traditions - Chris
  • Handy shopping-list tool keeps you from forgetting that crucial sprig of cilantro. - Paul
  • Cook of the week shows appreciation for valuable user contribution. - Christophe
  • It’s easy to compare recipes with user-ratings built right into the search results. - Eiko
  • Amount converter for US/Metric and number of Servings. - Chris
  • Ingredient Search reveals recipes matching the contents of your fridge. - Paul
  • Nutritional information is dynamically generated for many recipes. - Christophe
Needs salt:
  • These user-generated recipes have a limited repertoire: an American home-cookin’ slant, with no easy way to find exotic alternatives. - Chris
  • Too many links everywhere kills your appetite. - Paul
  • Bland color scheme and simple presentation don’t lead your eyes to important areas. - Christophe
  • Red-orange color scheme too close to the color of food. - Chris
  • Top navigation lacks the umph to carry this dish. - Christophe

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Wooden Spoon rating:
If CookPad was a chef it’d be: The neighbor’s wife: folksy, with that easy-to-love homemade touch, but lacks some refinement.

  • Step-by-step photos keep you from losing the script midway. - Eiko
  • Users can subscribe to other users’ favorite recipe lists, one of several ways CookPad keeps a tight community. - Christophe
  • “Tsukurepo” user reports allow the community to discuss how the recipe worked for them and how improvements and improvisations can be made. - Eiko
Needs Salt:
  • Gloomy colour choices for the interface and poor photography make me want to go and eat at McDonald’s - Paul
  • Search refinement choices are too limited. - Christophe
  • Putting high-ranking recipes behind a pay firewall, limiting new visitors to the worst content, sounds like a recipe for failure. - Chris
  • Brewing controversy over the originality of user recipes threatens to quickly poison this melting pot. - Paul

Wooden Spoon rating:
If Food Network was a chef it’d be: Rachael Ray, a little familiar, a little bland

  • Progressivelyu narrow search results by ingredient, type of dish, type of cuisine, etc. - Chris
  • “Commonly-searched keywords” is a handy touch. - Eiko
Needs salt:
  • Fatty Javascript and Flash sends my browser into cardiac arrest. - Christophe
  • Recipe pages have poor hierarchy. The main recipe text is tiny and unformatted, while huge titles for other recipes steal the show. - Chris
  • Uninspiring photography - Chris

Wooden Spoon rating:
If Open Source Food was a chef it’d be: your teenage brother: more experimental than mom, but can’t cook for crowds and sometimes lights the kitchen on fire.

  • This site could totally become the most delicious dating site around. - Paul
  • Individual User pages give the content a personable touch. - Christophe
  • Creative Commons License make it easier to share your recipes. - Chris
  • Easy-to-use peer review elements. - Christophe
  • Nice big photos – Paul
  • Tips section lets users to share kitchen secrets that don’t fit neatly in one recipe. - Chris
  • Uncluttered interface lets the recipes sing. - Paul
Needs salt:
  • This black color scheme doesn’t do these delicious-looking recipes any justice. - Eiko
  • No way to do all but the simplest keyword and genre searches. - Chris
  • Who wants to go through 39 pages of Western-influenced dishes. Needs more powerful ways to filter content. How about “Sexy recipes”, “Get-Well-Soon recipes”, “Make-The-Kids-Sleepy recipes”… - Paul
  • No real sense of how fresh the content is. - Paul
  • Succulent data is begging to be cut by a sharper search interface. - Christophe

Wooden Spon rating:
If epicurious was a chef it would be: Gordon Ramsay: sophisticated and bold, maybe a little overaggressive.

  • Attractive and vibrant rotating color scheme. - Christophe
  • Mail to your cellphone let’s you take your recipes to the supermarket. - Chris
  • Those are some tasty-lookin’ icons! - Eiko
  • Personal notes on recipe pages helps you keep track of your own improvisations. - Chris
  • Video area with lots of content, supported by well-targeted ads. - Christophe
Needs salt:
  • Important links like “My recipe box” tucked under pesky drop down menu. - Chris
  • It’s hard to cook off the screen with half the recipe below the fold. It’s hard to scroll with flour-caked hands! - Eiko
  • Pacing is a little off: it seems like my table is being stacked with too many options at one time. - Christophe
  • The user ratings look shady without any rating counts to back them up. - Eiko

Chris PalmieriAfter studying graphic design and Japanese language and aesthetics, Chris moved to Tokyo in 2001 to begin his design practice.
He co-founded AQ in 2004 to bring design basics to cultural organizations with bilingual websites. In his current role as managing director, Chris works with clients to clarify their ideas, oversees the creative process and designs.Read more posts by Chris Palmieri


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