Oregonian/Oregon Live: Simple Sorting With Recipe Box
When the local media company The Oregonian/OregonLive approached us, it was clear they had reached the limit of their platform's flexibility. Mirroring the print version of their Food Section and complementing their online food blog, they had maintained an online directory of over 3,6000 recipes that had been curated since 2007. But the experience was compromised by an unscalable framework. This left readers with insufficient tools to filter and search for a specific recipe — an experience that lacked any visual engagement and an inability to explore the database's full potential. In addition, the existing platform couldn’t provide SEO-friendly URLs (as they were all at the same URL with a querystring id to identify the recipe). This made it extremely time consuming, if at all possible, to try and measure traffic on the site. It also limited the ability of their users to share recipes on social media, and for The Oregonian/OregonLive to track those shares.
To build beyond just a basic directory of recipes and encourage searching, exploring, and sharing, we agreed to focus on three main templates: homepage, landing page for recipe categories, and the recipe page itself. By creating these as templates, we could keep a standard layout. In design, we highlighted recipes with beautiful imagery to showcase the dishes and provide viewers with inspiration. The pages leveraged a pattern readers were accustomed to, highlighting helpful cooking tips like duration and difficulty for example, and also encouraged browsing of more recipes from the author and different categories. This template also ensured that updating and creating pages from staff was consistent. To simplify management, we developed a content management system (CMS) that permitted admins to add content, curate featured content, and connect recipes to categories and authors so as to allow cross-linking and searching. Lastly, we ensured each new page would be published with a new, SEO-friendly URL so staff could track recipe usage and popularity.
Our focus was to not only create an experience that enabled and encouraged readers to search, explore, and share recipes, but also build a database for staff that allowed scalability and maintainability. The end result was a more inspiring and searchable application for readers that highlights the Oregonian/OregonLive’s staff curatorial expertise. Since launch, they’ve noted a huge increase in traffic, and in their busiest months, the application has freed up their time to give dedicated focus to the content they are best known for.