What does usability have to do with recipes? And what even is usability

Usability is an up and coming field of study that focuses on how functional an object/idea is, and how well users of that object/idea utilize it. You can think of it in terms of user experience, or UX for short.

We've all had those moments where we find a great recipe online, spend time planning and grocery shopping for all those ingredients, and can't wait to impress friends with our newfound culinary expertise. But then something happens, or it doesn't happen, and you are left with a mushy pile of failure you just spent $10 on. Yeah, it could be you not following directions or missing a step in the process, but it is more likely to be the fault of the recipe creator.

Recipes are Deceiving

Stephanie West

I don't want to be too quick to blame, but many recipes fail because they were written terribly. It's such a common problem that "Pinterest fails" have even become somewhat of a phenomenon because we can all #relate to those promising tutorials that somehow always end up completely wrong.

You Are Not The Problem

It's time to shift the blame onto developers and creators for many of these mishaps. Recipes are pretty rule-free, and so long as there seems to be a list of ingredients and steps, we just kind of assume whoever wrote this knew what they were doing. That isn't always the case, especially with people who write recipes in their leisure time.

Recipes should have a guideline of sorts, for professional and unprofessional recipe developers alike, to make recipe sharing more efficient. It's like how professional emails, cover letters, and advertisements have that rigid structure but are still open for creativity (okay maybe not cover letters, but you get the point). So why hasn't there been anything like this?

The Solution is... You

UX is becoming an immensely popular field for people who notice these types of issues. You may be considering going into UX (maybe as an excuse to be around food all day?) upon graduation, but usability can still be gauged by us, right now. Think of recipes you've made, shared, or even tried. Could it be done better? What would you change about it? Or was it a total disaster? Language is an uber-powerful medium for conveying information. What is more powerful than language, however, is the way language is portrayed.

Until something like recipe guidelines are put into place, consider usability the next time you write a recipe - whether it's for an online blog, a friend, or even your future self. Be careful of the language you use and be as specific as possible. Include accurate photos or videos. Even if something seems self-explanatory, it's not a bad idea to explain it anyway.

beer, pizza
Kayleigh Bounds

We as a community of food lovers must take a step in the right direction; even if every other recipe in the world is confusing and stupid, at least ours won't be, damnit. It's time to put a stop to this blasphemy and create recipes that actually make sense. I, for one, am tired of ruining birthday cakes and garlic bread.