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BBC Good Food are missing a trick

Last night, before leaving work, I visited the BBC Good Food site to try and find some inspiration for dinner. I’d called Kirstin and we were both at a loss as to what to have. We weren’t fussy. Didn’t mind the type of food. We didn’t necessarily even want meat. All we were after was something a bit different. Something quick to prepare and that didn’t require a trip to some far away store to buy coconut hairs or the flesh of a pomegranate.

I don’t know why, but I was amazed when landing on the homepage of the site that there wasn’t a clear signpost, or any signpost come to think of it, with messaging like “Dinner Delights” or “Struggling for ideas? We’ve got just the recipe”. Instead, there seemed to be a collection of various dishes that appeased to many a palette for various points throughout the day.

I wonder how hard it would be to serve up (pardon the pun) content that is likely to be of relevance to the user based on the time of day. For example:

  • 4.00 – 9.00 : Show Breakfast based meals
  • 9.00 – 11.00 : Present Snacks as the main CTA’s
  • 11.00 – 14.00 : Display quick Lunch ideas
  • 14.00 – 20.00 : Suggest Dinner recipes

Offering a quick route into the main content of the site would surely be far more beneficial to the BBC than leaving users confused on the homepage. At least when they are in looking at recipes, users would likely be swayed to browse around and take a look at other options.

Is there an easy fix?

Whilst the general UI on the Good Food site feels somewhat weak and a little dated (and to a certain extent is a much larger issue), I thought that there must be a way of adding in a panel directing users to meals based on time of day. It didn’t need to be anything special, with the rest of the content remaining the same.

It would also be advantageous to feature relevant meal based ideas in the header slideshow. I visited the site before work one morning to be greeted with a slide offering a ‘Sausage Pasta Bake’. Whilst that sounds lovely, my stomach did turn a little at 07:35.


Confusing Menu’s don’t help

As I could find no obvious route into meal based recipes on the homepage, my next option was to go via the menu. Again though, I was left amazed that there was no option to choose meals by type or time of day. There appeared to be plenty of other options – Occasions, Events, Healthy and even Christmas Biscuits (it’s October) were all deserving of a category, but alas, nothing for ‘Meal Type’.

I would love to find out how many people arrive on the site in a similar situation to the one I found myself in. I appreciate that it’s probably not an easy job to implement this kind of functionality as the site must have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of recipes.

Adding “A simple meal type addition” may not be quite as easy as I perhaps think it is, however, there must be plenty of users out there hunting around at specific parts of the day.

General impressions

It seems that this is a huge gaping hole that is missing in the current user journey through the site. When going through the initial wireframes, user journeys and persona creation phase, there must have been a requirement for users to arrive at the site and find a meal based on the time of day, or at least, meals that are popular at certain times.

Whilst the content of the site is fantastic and still my first port of call when finding something new to try, it certainly isn’t the easiest to use in it’s current format. The signposting on recipe pages feels weak (again, searching for ‘Breakfast’ gave me a related glossary term of ‘Radish’ in the sidebar) and other elements of the UI seem to be suffering too.

Maybe there’s a case for a more in depth case study in the future, but it screams of a site that was designed for use in desktop environment in 2010 and then retrofitted to work on a mobile a couple of years later. I could be wrong, but that’s the impression I get.

Thanks for reading 🙂