Unit 10 – Self Directed Project: Brief 1 – Initial Research


rec·i·pe [res-uh-pee]

1. a set of instructions for making or preparing something, especially a food dish: a recipe for a cake.
2. a medical prescription.
3. a method to attain a desired end: a recipe for success.
Origin: 1350–1400; Middle English <;; Latin: take, imperative singular of recipere to receive


A recipe is a set of instructions that describe how to prepare or make something, especially a culinary dish.

Modern culinary recipes normally consist of several components

  • The name (and often the locale or provenance) of the dish
  • How much time it will take to prepare the dish
  • The required ingredients along with their quantities or proportions
  • Necessary equipment and environment needed to prepare the dish
  • An ordered list of preparation steps
  • The number of servings that the recipe will provide (the “yield”)
  • The texture and flavor
  • A photograph of the finished dish

Some recipes will note how long the dish will keep and its suitability for freezing. Nutritional information, such as calories per serving and grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates per serving, may also be given.

Earlier recipes often included much less information, serving more as a reminder of ingredients and proportions for someone who already knew how to prepare the dish.

Cookbooks are a popular place for recipes, however the internet plays a major part. People can now go online and search for free recipes. Then print them off and take them into the kitchen. Or even mobile apps. Jamie Oliver and his 15min meals, you can watch a video as you are cooking so that it plays out in real time, even still this doesn’t create the perfect cooking experience.

Even Wikipedia has a section of recipes in Wikibooks.

Hamburger Recipe

From a quick google search you can see that people post a lot of recipes online, there is an online cooking community that share recipes and methods. However a lot of the recipes have over-styled layout or they follow the traditional – Picture > Ingredients / Measurements > Method.

Lamb Stew recipe found online

Another example of an online recipe trying to mimic an actual cook book

Another online recipe

I’ve found some websites that are popular for the free recipes online, these do not focus so much on making the recipe a decorative item, but for something to follow.

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 11.09.19

From the image above, you can see that there are boxes which you can tick. It doesn’t really make any sense for them to be tick-able, are you meant to tick once you have found the ingredient? Once you have used that ingredient? Once you have weighted it out? Plus if your hands are busy messing with flour or something sticky, the last thing you are going to do it touch your laptop or iPad!

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 11.09.46

The BBC website is slightly better than the previous site. It has clear headings. Also includes a video which helps you along. However there is a lot of visual clutter and junk, very distracting when you are trying to look for the next step in the recipe when say your pan is boiling over. However it does give you the option to print this recipe out.

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 11.10.42 Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 11.10.59 Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 11.11.02

This is Channel 4’s recipe database. This is one of Jamie Oliver’s. This recipe is far more complex that the other two I looked at. It has so much information that it would not all fit in one screen shot, and it is these kind of recipes that need to be really well designed. As at the moment I look at this recipe and think “OMG it’s to hard” because there is so much text that it is overwhelming. The steps are in three large chunks. When you have read one step you have most likely forgot what it said at the beginning. Also the ingredients list is huge, perhaps if organised in to a system of wet/dry ingredients, or at least a break between the ingredients that are used together. On the positive site the headings are clear.

For some more visual research I thought I would hunt around my house and see what cook books we have. The Morrisons magazine isn’t technically a cookbook but it does contain a lot of recipes. We have quite a range of books, aimed at different skill levels (Beginner’s Cookbook) as well as books focused on culture (Jewish Cookbook) and then books that have a range of recipes (Chafford 100 Community Cookbook & Nigel Slaters’ Cookbook)

20130111-115746.jpgThe first recipe I looked at was in the Morrisons magazine. Within this layout they try to fit as many recipes into a spread as possible, as well as focusing massively on the photographs of the food.

20130111-115903.jpgThere is some kind of hierarchy system put in place. Headings are in bold and green, and ingredients are also in bold suggesting that these are the most important parts to take notice of. However the measurements of each are not in bold, perhaps these recipes are open to experimentation and more about having fun while cooking rather than it being scientific and ridge.

However I do find it odd that there is no clear list of ingredients, meaning that you have to go through the recipe first to find what is needed and then revisit when cooking, maybe this was done intently to force the user to read though the whole set of instructions before starting to cook. This way it means the user can expect what is to come.

20130111-120002.jpgThis is the 200 Curries Cookbook. Quite a traditional layout, once again using bold to select key information such as ingredients. The start of the paragraph is also in bold. First of all I assumed this was because each paragraph started with an adjective, however the last paragraph does not, therefor this can’t be the reason for the system. If all adjectives or words that explained the process were in bold that would then making an interesting point of the content.

20130111-120044.jpgThe 500 Cupcakes Cookbook follows a similarly traditional recipe layout. Name > Ingredients/Measurements>Method. There is not much hierarchy within the layout other than the top is boldest & biggest, then bold, then standard weight.

20130111-120159.jpg20130111-120454.jpgThe books above are both Marks & Spencer’s. They are two separate books, one is about muffins and the other is about slow cooking. The layout is generic, so much so they have used it in both books, this means that there has been disregard for the content. As it is clear that the process of making muffins is totally different to the process of popping everything into a slow cooker. There is a good use of columns to separate information however limited hierarchy again. Title > Ingredients / Measurements / Method.

20130111-120524.jpgThis book I can’t say too much about as this is a community cookbook so they would not have had the best designers working on the layout. However every page is exactly the same. The only hierarchy is text positioning, type choice/size. As this is a community cookbook it could have had so much more personality, but this layout suggests everyone is the same and quite bland.

20130111-120546.jpgAnother book that goes for the bland style is Nigel Slater, considering he is a professional cook you would think he would have had a really good designer. The front page is quite deceiving. Similar to the Jamie Oliver recipe online, there is a lot of text, this would have been better if there was complete line breaks. Also having more the one recipe on the page seems odd. It feels like the copy has just been posted in a text box that has continued across the pages. Also no visuals of the final outcome? Typographic hierarchy has been used but it doesn’t suggest that the food would be exciting to make or eat. The book is about making meals quickly, I don’t feel like this layout would help you go through the process quickly at all, especially with the hefty paragraph boxes.


Most of the books I have looked at are quite recently published, my mum got this Jewish Cookbook in 1986. This book has quite short method instructions, even though they are short I think that it would be easier to understand if there was a bit more space between each step. It is quite interesting to see that ingredients are shown in metric, imperial as well as american. It is clear that the user has been considered when creating the content but maybe not so much in the design.

20130111-120753.jpgThis book is aimed at beginners or children. It does something that none of the other books do, and that is have visuals for each step of the process to show how each step should look – this is really helpful for someone who has never cooked before. They don’t know what to expect. Imagine if they were using Nigel Slaters book, they would have no hope. Even though this is a great book I feel that the typography could be better, especially the parts explaining the process.

20130111-120817.jpgFinally, Jamie Oliver’s Cookbook. The layout is pretty clean and spacious. Still quite a traditional layout in terms of having the ingredients in a separate column to the process. There is a clear hierarchy of Title > Ingredients> Process. I do like the fact that there is a section before the process that explains what things you need e,g Boiling water, Large pan etc, so that you are not fumbling around for them while you are cooking.

Overall I feel that many of the designs for the recipes lack personality, passion and what the recipe and process is actually about. When you cook it is not a clinical process, nothing goes straight forward. Within my recipes I want to capture the process as well as the different ingredients used. By showing the differences between recipes, I think it would encourage people to cook more as they can see that if you have made one kind of jam, you haven’t made them all! There are different process and ingredients… The experimentation is the fun part.


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