(CULTURE, HISTORY, MEMORIES, LOVE)
TO ME, FOOD REPRESENTS PRECIOUS MOMENTS WITH MY GRANDMOTHER
A child of two immigrants, I grew up around delicious food and considered my grandmother to be The Grand Master Chef of the family. A lot of my memories center around the food that she made and I learned how to cook underfoot in the kitchen with her. She never wrote anything down and as a child, it never occurred to me to do so either. I never thought that she would ever not be cooking some of our dinners or for Thanksgiving or Christmas. So when she, unfortunately, passed away, I lost all of that.
I remember trying to recreate recipes, trying to look them up online, or trying to describe them and see if I could find anything similar. There was a lot of regret, frustration, and internalized resentment that I had let something so important slip through my fingers. Nothing looked right. It didn’t taste right. When I ate my replications, I didn’t get hit with nostalgia and memories of Thanksgiving in New York. I got more suburban girl boss side hustle.
IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL MEDIA, WHY WAS I HAVING SUCH DIFFICULTIES RECONNECTING WITH MY FOOD ROOTS?
HOW MIGHT WE PRESERVE, SHARE, AND EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT THE CULINARY TRADITIONS OF IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN THE UNITED STATES?
CREATE A SPACE WHERE:
SHARING IS EASY, EXPLORING IS FUN, LEARNING IS PERSONAL, AND FOOD CULTURE IS ACCESSIBLE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.
A FOOD SHARING AND EXPLORATION PLATFORM THAT RECAPTURES THE FEELINGS OF FAMILY, COMFORT, AND BELONGING WHILE ELEVATING MINORITY EXPERTISE.
NOURISH IS A DESKTOP BASED WEB PLATFORM THAT:
Simplifies and streamlines the recipe creation process.
Connects users with their friends, family, or an overarching community to share content.
Enables users to discover recipes in a more intuitive and inclusive way.
THE NOURISH WEBSITE INCLUDES
Setting the tone for Nourish's priorities, the homepage highlights community events, user-submitted stories, and the most popular user-posted recipes of the week.
STREAMLINED RECIPE POSTING
Publishing recipes has been streamlined, taking away the headache and letting Nourish do the heavy lifting – all from the convenience of a single page.
You can add recipe information, directions, and media to create the core of your recipe. Include that personal touch with a foreword or tips and tricks. Make sure your recipe reaches those who need it with an intuitive vetted tagging system.
INTUITIVE RECIPE CURATION
Organize your posted and bookmarked recipes into "books" that can be customized and shared. Leave yourself private notes detailing your own modifications to each recipe.
Connect with your friends, family, or a community to share specific recipes and content, or to be notified of what others are posting.
Enables you to expand their horizons instead of limiting them.
As you move across the world using an interactive map, a random selection of recipes are curated for the area. By zooming in, you can further narrow your search to countries, provinces, prefectures, or cities.
To further encourage exploration and interaction, every country has its own series of stamps that you can collect and display.
Connect with people all over the world and learn by watching them cook in real-time with user-hosted live video demonstrations.
RSVP for upcoming demonstrations, chat with the host and other participants, or save the session to follow along with later.
Browse a library of recorded videos and learn at your own speed with the ability to rewind, pause, and bookmark your spot to resume later.
Business Model Canvas
Business Model Canvas
Research & Empathize
When I started my research, I knew that I couldn’t have been the only one to experience the disconnection with my food culture.
Unfortunately, with the food industry as large as it is, I had no idea where to start. So I created a Survey. While the Survey itself was fairly basic and straightforward, I did find my learnings valuable.
Gauge users’ interest in food and cooking, learn how they discover food, and get a preliminary feel of their priorities and pain points.
HOW MUCH DO YOU ENJOY COOKING?
HOW DO YOU USUALLY FIND RECIPES?
HOW INTERESTED ARE YOU IN TRYING FOODS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES?
When taking a closer look at the survey demographics and results, I realized that people felt similarly — but that was because they were all connected to me in some way.
My Survey didn’t reach a broad enough audience.
My findings, while valid and insightful in their own way, were biased and not strong enough to make any concrete decisions about.
There was one comment that really stuck out and resonated with me, though.
"SHARING A MEAL IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT BONDING EXPERIENCE FOR ME."
This comment made me realize that food is a way to connect and it can be intimate; I wouldn’t learn about peoples’ experiences by working in broad strokes. If I wanted to learn about peoples’ stories and feelings, I needed to do that in a more personal and intimate way.
So I conducted 12 One-on-One Interviews with people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities, and at different points in their lives.
There were a lot of great personal feelings and comments about food and how it relates to them and their families. There were also a lot of comments about struggles, pain points, and concerns as well.
With the interviews ranging from 15 minutes to over 90 minutes, there was a lot of information to take in and it made me realize that there was a much larger issue surrounding food, culture, and cooking.
From all of these One-on-One Interviews, I was able to narrow my findings down to a few Key Takeaways that resonated strongly with me.
Mine is not a solitary experience.
Even among those with living family members, memorializing recipes is an ongoing concern.
There is a need for improved experiences.
While there are plenty of recipe sites, multiple pain points exist for consumers that no one platform has universally solved.
There is a desire for improved recipe discovery.
Current recipe discovery tools are dated and haven’t seen any recent innovation and users are looking for a new and more intuitive way to find food.
All of my research made me realize a striking Consumer Truth.
FOOD IS UNIVERSAL, IT IS SOMETHING THAT EVERYONE HAS IN COMMON.
IT IS PERSONAL, INTIMATE, AND A WAY TO CONNECT TO OTHERS.
This Truth lead me to the Insight that would inform the rest of the product.
THE TRADITION OF PASSING DOWN RECIPES AND CULINARY CUSTOMS VIA WORD OF MOUTH IS EASIER AND MORE PERSONAL THAN ANY OTHER CURRENTLY AVAILABLE METHOD.
All of my findings immediately allowed me to define a strong Strategic Approach to my solution:
LET KINSHIP NOURISH YOUR ROOTS.
By positioning Nourish as a family of cultures coming together to celebrate food and traditions, users will be able to enjoy food in an encouraging and comfortable space.
With such a large concept, the potential audience was quite expansive as well. Two users immediately came to mind: Minorities and the Broader Consumer Community.
I DECIDED TO FOCUS ON MINORITIES AS THE PRIMARY USER FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
These recipes are their stories. They are the experts.
To allow them to solidify their position of authority on the platform.
So that when the secondary (mass) consumers join, there is already a strong foundation of content to consume and a community to refer to.
From this narrowed audience I identified three Personas; three ideal users that were derived from my research. I decided to be intentionally vague with my Personas to more accurately represent my audience and to prevent myself from designing with bias.
With a better understanding of my users and their struggles, I composed a Problem Statement that would frame my mindset for future solution ideation.
"Isaac is a first-generation American in his first year of college whose grandmother recently passed. He has a collection of memories and handwritten recipes that he’d like to digitally archive so that he doesn’t lose any more of himself. He wonders just how much he’s missed out on and how much he never got to learn. He wants to explore his food culture, reconnect, and maybe feel like he’s learning from his lost loved one."
While I had a few ideas of my own, I wanted to make sure I was designing for my audience. To do this, I conducted a few small Ideation Sessions based on my problem statement. From a collective 6 participants, I received some fantastic ideas that I would not have otherwise thought of.
I organized all of these ideas through a solo MoSCoW Analysis, which grouped together features into four groups: Must Haves (Essential), Should Haves (Important), Could Haves (Would be Nice), and Will Not Haves (Not Currently Necessary).
To get in the right headspace for designing, I created a Moodboard to serve as inspiration.
With my Moodboard to guide me, I worked to solidify Nourish’s Branding, seeking to emphasize the feelings of community and comfort the platform embodied.
I first started with the Logo, creating something reminiscent of the handwritten recipe cards of my childhood while also subtly highlighting the shared aspect of food by underlining “our”.
To accompany the brand’s Logo, I also created a palette, typography, and buttons/asset guide. Appetizing but adaptable, Nourish’s visual identity is meant to continue to build the brand’s feelings of comfort and home while still allowing the variety of user’s content to stand out and shine.
Being able to hear so many important stories about people's' memories surrounding food was heartwarming and inspiring. The encouragement and feedback I received over the course of this project was incredibly validating as a designer. It made me recognize that I really could improve people's experiences. I really enjoyed creating Nourish's Visual Brand Identity, which is not something I had been able to take the lead on before.
Scope is a difficult beast to manage. With such a personal topic that I was passionate about, there was a burning desire to try and fix everything — even things that didn't necessarily need to be fixed. There was a lot of revising along the way, as I had to remember I was designing for an audience, not just for myself. While trimming down content was painful in the moment, it made for a stronger overall experience. I wish I was able to do more usability tests and user interviews as I was developing the prototypes, as I believe the feedback could only improve the final product.
While this started as an independent study project, Nourish has just begun to set down roots. In the future, Nourish could be expanded to include a communications plan and fleshed-out KPIs. Expanding upon potential partnerships and business opportunities would also help further strengthen the brand.
I am currently in talks with a developer to potentially bring Nourish to life, though a prospective launch date has not been established.