Client project focused on improving engagement on a cooking publication website.
Living Lou is a personal food website featuring recipes, outreach forms, and media publications run by a Toronto food blogger, Lou.
In this project, I re-designed Living Lou to become a responsive, mobile-first food publication with features that aligned with her new business needs and updated branding that showcased her food first. I led the design process from research to design to iteration to developer hand off.
User Research, Market Research and Competitor Analysis, Persona, Journey Mapping, User Stories, User Flows, Wireframing, Prototyping, Usability Testing, Branding, UI Design
Figma, Adobe Illustrator
Freelance project for client
Living Lou is a personal food blog that Lou has been publishing for the past 11 years. In her own words, the website features "simple, fresh, and flavorful recipes for the modern kitchen".
With several years running the website, she has collected quite a bit of user data through Google Analytics and knows who her audience is. Having looked at the data, she approached me with a few initial ideas of how to improve her website:
The hypothesis was that re-designing Living Lou will decrease bounce rates from the website and increase engagement across more pages of the site as well, both key KPIs in increasing revenue.
The scope of this project was to work with my client, Lou, to redesign key pages of her existing food blog and hand-off the design to a developer, who would ultimately implement it.
The focus is to re-design her website with a mobile-first approach, to optimize usability for and increase engagement from her largest user group.
Before jumping into designing, I familiarized myself with her business model and conducted secondary research to understand the current food writing landscape.
Below is a summary of her current business model and user data that she has collected. This helped me understand both industry standards and her longer term business goals, so we could enable the re-design to help achieve them.
Knowing that Lou’s largest audience is 25-34 y/o women from the US, I used this as my target user group to interview. I conducted 7 interviews with people who mostly fit this profile and who frequently use cooking websites.
The goal of the interviews was to understand what information and features are important for cooks reading food publications and what frustrations they have when reading food blog websites, specifically on mobile web. To understand the most from users, I prioritized contextual inquiry questions.
Ease of use and the speed at which users can find information are probably the most important factors for readers, since timing is important when cooking.
Users want to be able to discover content easily and navigate to relevant recipes quickly. This is typically made even more difficult, by the number of ads and text.
Most cooks use their phones while cooking for convenience, despite finding them to be the most difficult device to use.
Common pain points include:
The field of cooking publications is pretty saturated, so while users have a few of their favorite sites, there are also a lot of options and content. Therefore, branding is an important top of funnel differentiator to attract initial user engagement.
I created this user persona according to the market research that was conducted, as well as, the user data that Lou had collected. This helped guide design solutions during ideation.
At this stage, I reconvened with Lou to map out the user and business needs that I had collected and identified opportunity areas that existed for both. This helped ensure that we had a set of ‘guiding principles’ to reference as we created a comprehensive feature list.
With alignment on user needs and business goals we should be solving for, I then defined a list of features that would help us solve for both, and prioritized them based on impact and effort accordingly. Since I knew most of her users land directly on a recipe page or the homepage, we prioritized feature that impacted both.
It was important to meet with Lou at this point, because she had not yet hired a developer, but could bring expertise from having worked with Wordpress plugins and other developers in the past, to assess level of effort and feasibility of the designs within Wordpress constraints.
Simultaneously, we needed to test mobile wireframes with actual users. The main objectives of usability testing were to:
Through both testing and working with Lou, we were able to align on visual edits to be made and a few design challenges to tackle.
Discover Lou’s featured recipes of the season, her most popular recipes of all time, how to contact and work with her, and get to know her as a chef!
Efficiently filter, sort, and search through Lou’s catalogue of recipes in a way that’s optimized for mobile, tablet, and desktop users alike, for everyone to use while cooking on the go.
Get the key information and ingredients you need at a glance from recipe cards and read even more detailed information about the recipe creation process at your leisure.
Living Lou is the first freelance project I worked on that involved both my client, a developer, and an existing product. I learned a lot about the process of creating within technical constraints and balancing stakeholder / user needs.
Working with a stakeholder demonstrated the importance of quick pivots and fast iteration. While working with Lou, I always felt like I needed more time to research or test. But due to time and resource constraints, I saw the value in presenting options, choosing a direction based on assumptions, and iterating based on insights we gained from that decision.
In the future, I see potential to expand the existing Living Lou website to accommodate Lou's growing brand - potentially to allow purchases of merchandise and support different forms of media content. This could mean new website feature or even a native mobile app to support her ever growing platform.
Adapting an existing design within the constraints of the hosting platform that Lou used showed me how important it is to constantly check in and develop a partnership with the development team. Getting constant alignment and feedback is important to ensure you're working towards the same goal!