Discovery engine that actually works? Recipe app to the rescue!

Great day, our seasonal food recipe search app, or just “Recipe app” for short, is in public beta… or maybe only a late alpha release. Anyway, it’s mature enough so you can get an idea of how it will look and work. Seeing others use it, I’m inclined to call it a recipe discovery engine.

Recipe app link:

Illustration - responsive design for the discovery engine

Responsive design test done in HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. A discovery engine in the making?

We have gotten a lot of knowledge, both tech and UX. Latest of many findings was the custom scoring function in elasticsearch. Hopefully, we’ll learn something within the business of food recipes, and we’ve received a lot of info from Christopher Sjuve at, the site we crawl for content to our search index. All blog posts on the app available under the “recipe app” tag.


The main intent of the app, when the idea was born back in 2011 or 2010, was to discover recipes or more general: To make a real content discovery engine based on search. Recipes that you didn’t know of or think of when planning a meal. And recipes that uses ingredients in season, thus making it relevant. In other words, the best, cheapest and most tasteful ingredients. While we continue to discover a lot of issues with how we thought the app should work technically, it really seems it can work for the end user.

A general and common issue with search solved

Mostly, with search, you get no real discovery. You rediscover stuff you already knew where there, or you find stuff you anticipated where there. But what with all the content unknown or not anticipated by the user? Nowhere in that process will regular search find stuff suitable for you that you initially didn’t think of. That’s a problem because you never touch a vast majority of possibly valuable content in your search index.

A real content discovery engine

So, what does this have to do with our recipe app? By picking the app, we know two facts upfront: The user wants food recipes, or make/serve food, to be more specific. And we know the time of year. This puts us in the position to make do a real instant search. The first screen you see is a search query already executed. The questions (search query) asked by the app to the index are then “recipes with the most in season ingredients for this month found on i.e. a farm”. We choose the farm since this is what resembles a supermarket the most. After that we let the user play with known constraints like type of meals and preparation time in addition to change place where ingredients are found and time of year.

More playfull approach. People swipe (when they understand that they can swipe, yes one of the UX issues) a lot from what we have seen. We’ll add some Google Analytics to the app soon, so we can track actual use.

Illustration - testing the recipe discovery engine

Testing on a Sony Xperia Tab Z. A lot of small bugs and a bit noisy.

We’d love your feedback!

So, what do you think of our recipe discovery engine? Is it just that, a discovery engine? Are we on to something? Do you think it would work? What should we change? Don’t be shy, give us a real uppercut feedback in the comment field below!

Article written by

Espen Klem
Interaction designer with a love for log reading, statistics and mind-bending, user friendly concepts.

2 response to: «Discovery engine that actually works? Recipe app to the rescue!»

  1. August 8, 2014 at 23:09 | Permalink

    Hi Espen,
    As I am working on some business concepts related to food management, your post on LinkedIn caught my attention. Interesting app, looks like an initial piece of a bigger cullinairy puzzle. Do you also plan adding rich media (such as video) or value added services (like diets, personal preferences, …)?
    Here in Flanders (Belgium) we are – like in many parts of the world – fond of coocking programs. One of the most popular is Dagelijkse Kost, a daily program with healthy and easy-to-make meals. Moreover, they also have an interesting site (just Google ‘Dagelijkse Kost’ and look for the TV-program). Next to some delicious recipes, you can also find videos and a database on ingredients. Maybe it can give you some more inspiration.
    I think your app is just the beginning of a whole series of complementary apps. It sounds promising. Feel free to contact me if you want to share some ideas.
    Kind regards.

  2. August 22, 2014 at 15:45 | Permalink

    Thanks Koen,
    Yes, it’s a first of hopefully many things and search types around food recipes. develops a lot of functionality themselves, but maybe we’ll get the chance to develop this app further and do more recipe search stuff later.

    Haven’t thought about more ‘multi’ in multimedia than text and pictures so far. I know it takes a lot of resources, and for this app, we’re trying to keep it as simple as possible.

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