I love cooking. The exploratory, tactile, and (comparatively) fast results provide a nice creative foil to my design work, where I spend all day manipulating screens, waiting for releases, and not seeing the customer’s face when she takes the first “bite” of my new design.
But I’ve been in a bit of a cooking funk lately, and feeling rather unmotivated. Looking back on previous years, this is typical for me in August and September. NYC sees epic temps and humidity in those months, and eating, let alone cooking, sounds absolutely unappealing. It’s October now, but still unseasonably warm, and I’m just getting back into it, slowly, letting things braise while I work, enjoying the feeling of productive multi-tasking with hardly any effort.
To beat the funk, I started collecting new inspiration, and the New York Times Dining section is one of my go-to inspiration sources. I recently downloaded their Cooking app (also a microsite).
The app is glossy and shiny, taking full advantage of the gorgeous food photography that accompanies the recipes. Many clever animation details add to the delightful experience.
My favorite detail is the clever way they handled the navigation: when you're a few levels down into a recipe view, there's both a back arrow and the navigation menu icon available, so you're always one click away from where you need to go.
You can also see times to prepare while scanning the recipes.
Some details I wished for was a way to search by cooking method (e.g., braising, my favorite kind of cooking) and having new recipes highlighted further up the home page. Instead, I have a bank of "recommended" recipes but I'm not sure what the recommendations are based on, as I only have one item saved so far. I do think the app is focused towards first-use, which is smart, but now that I've visited a few times, the amount of content is a bit overwhelming and it's hard to know what I've seen before and what I haven't.
Congrats to this team who was able to sweat the details, make an awesome user experience. This is an iPad app I'll definitely come back to.