SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: SIGIA-L: Foodmagic responses & i
RE: SIGIA-L: Foodmagic responses & issues
Date: Thu Jan 18 2001 - 14:55:20 EST
I think we are looking at the site from two different perspectives. You wanted
to go into the site before you arrived, so you knew you would enter it before
you saw it first. I was interested in the comments posted and casually wondered
what it looked like, unsure of whether I wanted to continue or not. I see the
following options: a tour (too long is my assumption), signing up (for what? too
much commitment maybe), or member log in (not an option). I am not necessarily
saying it needs more information, I much prefer simple sites, but different
information. I am saying I didn't get much out of the two sentences on the site,
they could have said "blah, blah, blah;" if I didn't KNOW there were two
sentences of explanation from the posting, I would have looked right past them.
Once I read them I get the site a little better. My conclusion is it is not a
good opening for a browsing experience. Much depends here though on who the
intended user is, I am assuming it is the general public, but I could be wrong.
I find your comment "It is this lack of information that is enticing" Very
interesting. Why did I have a slightly different reaction? (I did like the look
of the site). I guess it had to do with where I was on a commitment spectrum
with the site. You were predisposed to be moving forward, I was in a more
defensive mode wondering what it is.
Back to the original posting, I thought of something else. When it says, "The
puzzle for me to solve is this - how do you make people read?" I think the
answer is that you have to make people WANT to read!
From: Rachel Stern [mailto:RStern_at_HIVE4.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 1:27 PM
To: 'Mike.Steckel_at_SEMATECH.Org'; turtle_at_turtlesweb.com
Subject: RE: SIGIA-L: Foodmagic responses & issues
I had responded to Ms. Turtle's original invitation to view FoodMagic. I
went for 2 reasons: as a budding IA person I was eager to tesy my own
analytic skills, and as a working mother of five girls (ages 9, 12,13,14,15)
I am always open to time savers and new recipes.
I found the graphics on the site amusing. The colors inviting and cheerful.
I LOVED the SIMPLICITY of the site. No visual clutter to disorient the
user. I find most sites to be guilty of INFORMATION OVERLOAD. What I seem
to be hearing from this list is that you would prefer MORE information on
the front page of the site. It is this lack of information that is
enticing. I can read just what is there and if I want more info I delve
further. Maybe most users are not that adventurous. I don't know. But the
warmth and ease of the site is very inviting-I would think users would WANT
to go further into the site. Also a plus is the lack of use (or overuse) of
emerging technologies. This is a SIMPLE site (for the USER).
My two pennies worth....
From: Mike.Steckel_at_SEMATECH.Org [mailto:Mike.Steckel_at_SEMATECH.Org]
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 1:10 PM
Subject: RE: SIGIA-L: Foodmagic responses & issues
I also have a large, complex site I assist with and several comments came to
that I wanted to pass on.
I would say that complexity is ultimately more a presentation issue than a
number of features issue. It is true that more features make presentation
difficult, but my guess is you need to work on labeling, screen flow, or
integration. If there is a lot of learning that has to take place, you need
language that makes people excited about the opportunities you offer.
When you say, "If they read the words on the home page (about two
they would know what it did" my first thought was they may not have
what they were told. Reading does not equal understanding. Are the two
where it says:
"FoodMagic is a unique preference matching technology that learns YOUR
individual tastes..." If so, the type might be a little small. I didn't even
notice it at first and had to think, "What two sentences is she talking
If I didn't know they were there I wouldn't have noticed them.
You also say, "If people get directions on a site, which clearly tell them
the right place what they need to know, what other course of action is
How do you know it is clear? or the "right place?"
What do you mean by "giving away our secrets?" I thought I would see how
site looks, but I must admit I am a little turned off when I don't get much
information up front and have to enter some personal stuff to continue. When
see "Take a Tour," I wonder things like "How long will this take?" Though I
like the look of the opening page, I never went past it. I need more
before I am willing to start a relationship with a site.
I hope this doesn't seem harsh. You ask a lot of good questions that I have
struggled with. I guess I am just reacting to the negatives.
From: Eileen 'Turtle' Parzek [mailto:turtle_at_turtlesweb.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 7:58 AM
Subject: SIGIA-L: Foodmagic responses & issues
First, I want to thank everyone who gave me feedback to the beta release of
the very difficult project I've been working on. I believe I wrote back to
everyone personally, with further discussion about the issues raised and if
I missed anyone, I apologize. I really appreciate the help - the response
was overwhelmingly positive and having "fresh eyes" on it was great.
There were a couple interesting realizations, which I thought were on topic
for IA enough that I might write about them.
* The first batch of user testing on the demo last summer included
complaints that the site was way too complex - so I simplified it - and got
rid of a few highly complex features. So, I find it kinda amusing that the
feedback I got this week asked for many of those features to be returned
:-) For example, we used to have a much more complex 'exclude ingredients'
form, but I removed it until I find a way to easily locate, display and
exclude any of thousands of ingredients.
* On the same subject of complexity, yes - the site is complex and it does
a lot of things. I had one comment that a site which needed that much
"help" was TOO complex, which puzzled me... on one hand, if its already way
too complex, why did I get another 10 items for our "future features" list
which would make it more complex? :-) And I realized that I'm a help-freak
- I wrote a ton more help than most sites have, not because I thought
people wouldn't 'get' how to use the site but because I hate the fact that
most sites I go to have no help. So, while I didn't expect people would go
to the user guide all the time and my goal was that they never had to, I
thought it would be nice to have context sensitive and searchable help
whenever anyone wanted it. Of course, in the crazy rush to do this site, I
didn't use the technologies that are available to me for writing help and
hopefully I can fix that some day.
* The puzzle for me to solve is this - how do you make people read? I tried
not to be wordy on the site, but practically every question I was asked
about a feature that someone was looking for, was a matter of them not
reading the fact that it WAS there, and there in the place you would expect
it to be! For one example, one of the two prominent buttons on the home
page, next to the sign up and log in, said "New? Take a Tour!" ... and five
or six people wrote to say "Hey, you shouldn't make people log in without
knowing what the site does first". If they read the words on the home page
(about two sentences), they would know what it did. If they took the
tour, they'd know. If they followed the link on the top left corner of
EVERY page, they'd know. I'm a cross linking fool... just about everything
is available from at least 1 other location, in my quest to think of every
angle a person might be coming from. Plus, its all totally searchable.
So - I'm stumped. If people get directions on a site, which clearly tell
them in the right place what they need to know, what other course of action
is there? This is one of the things I wish dearly I wasn't the only person
trying to figure out...
* The most important thing I realized (and don't yet know how to solve) is
this: FoodMagic introduces a different, new paradigm for how people use
recipe and meal planning on the web. We are all used to browsing, and
searching, to find recipes (if we do this sort of thing at all!). FoodMagic
is different in that it learns your tastes, as you use it - every choice
you make causes an adjustment to YOUR profile, and the algorhythms which
run in the site. Here's an example: someone wrote and said "I hate
pineapple, but I like desserts. I want to exclude pineapple". Well, we
could set up a complex form which says exclude pineapple - in all its
forms, much like we had before. But really, it works like this: If
FoodMagic suggests a recipe with pineapple and you look at it and say
"BLECH, I hate that!" and instantly 'add it to trash', FM learns
immediately that this taste is a turn off for you. And its not just taste
alone - if you are constantly trashing recipes which have peas, FM WILL
catch on. Keep in mind too, that adding something to the trash assures that
particular recipe is never recommended again, either. And all this applies
to favorites as well - I, for example, hate curry - and I dont' want to get
rid of all Indian recipes, but it doesn't give me anything with curry any
more. Because it has put me in a taste space that doesn't involve curry
So the big quesiton is, since the questions people asked indicated that a
lot of people didn't really grasp what the site TRULY does, how to impart
this information without giving away our secrets : ) Again, its all there
- if you read. But... I have to figure out how to subliminally change
peoples thinking about recipe and meal planning sites, somehow. I'm
afraid I'm going to lose people who come in, try it for one day and think
"this is bogus!" and never come back. It learns over TIME. You have to
either spend some time rating recipes so it can learn from you, or actually
use it over time ... and it will only get more accurate to the point that
it doesn't need much input. I, myself, was a huge skeptic of whether the
science even worked, but I found that after using it for a while - - it
actually truly works... almost amazingly so. I NEVER get a meal plan that
doesn't contain 80% recipes I would eat in a moment.
Anyway - thanks to all who wrote - I'll forever eternally be taking
feedback if anyone else wants to play with the site. I hope some of you
actually use it - even pretend to use it - over time so you can see how it
does things... its got some very futuristic Jetson implications :
) Almost every suggestion i heard - expanding the restaurants, getting
involved with smart appliances, online grocery fulfillment, etc... are ALL
in the works, and all part of the big plan. I guess money is the eternal,
confounded issue - even now, we're plunging ahead on this site with no idea
of its future. But, its good to know my dreams for the site are supported
by the perspectives of my colleagues.
BTW - we've also done the same thing (automatic, one to one preference
matching) with music.
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:28 EST