Recipe Tree

Recipe Tree

Concept Project. Keywords: Visual Design, Wireframing, Testing, Prototyping, Food, Storytelling


Food does more than nourish us physically. It connects us to rich human stories and histories. Recipes aren’t just instructions for food: They are living, changing documents that teach us how the tradition of that food migrated over place and time.


There exists no good way to track variations in recipes over time and connect those recipes back to the human story behind their origins.

SCOPE  2 week, individual project.


I designed an iPad app that allows people to upload family recipes, along with the human story behind that recipe. In addition to ingredients and directions there is space to connect the country of origins, the extent of the dish’s migration and any personal notes or stories associated with it. It’s possible to “branch” a variation off of anybody’s family recipe and make notes about why. Those variations are tracked and displayed. It’s like GitHub’s version control meets, but for recipes.



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01 – Research and Analysis

This project was inspired by a previous project, Bakery, so I had already done some research with people who Bake. I decided to expand to all cooking and researched Community Cookbooks and other cultural presidents.

I conducted 3 interviews with people who are passionate about food and cooking and listened to their personal stories, favorite recipes, methods of annotating and storing recipes and pains points.

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02 – Contextual Inquiry

To determine the final medium for the prototype, I did contextual inquiry and interviews to see how people use technology in the kitchen. A tablet seemed like the best option because people have less fear about getting it dirty.



03 – Sketching and Prototyping






04 – Iterating and Testing

Through testing, I went through several iterations and implemented a few key changes:

  • More unique integration of the human story with the practical elements of a recipe app
  • If a recipe can have a “family tree”, then make it extremely clear where you are in the tree.
  • Develop a very clear iconography to communicate which recipes are “originals” vs. “branches”.
  • Include the ability to turn off edits when viewing a branch, so somebody could just cook it without distraction.


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05 – Feedback

I presented this work at IDEO and got some great feedback and questions about topics like:

  • How to avoid a cold-start by pre-populating with content
  • How to keep responsible and honest content
  • Showing at-a-glance views of how much change has occurred between recipe branches
  • Visual Design advice.

Thank You to Lauren, Imran and Alex at IDEO for their advice and time.

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