Publish Date: 4 June 2018

Developer Insight into the Polana Cookbook

I remember the days when the biggest, thing people wanted was access to more information. The Internet was the tool we were going to achieve it with. “Access to information for everyone.” was almost the slogan of the internet in the mid-90s and early 2000s.

Today billions of people across the world has access to the internet, and what I describe as the overloaded abundance of information, as billions of people are no longer just consumers of information, but also creators.

The abundance of information and the drastic change it had on our behaviour of information consumption, is what has led us to another information revolution.

It is no longer about having access to information, but rather having access to relevant and interactive information. It’s about fulfilling the needs of the individual not the masses.

I am very excited about the future of information, as we have so many awesome things being done with information to change the way we consume it. From machine learning predicting what information we want to consume, to the creation of virtual and augmented realities. Information transformation is happening, and it has been happening for some time now.

Thus it is important that we stop thinking of creating digital platforms for just the masses, but think how we can build digital for the individual.

The Polana Cookbook is a recipe site, build with the needs of the individual in mind. It is why I’m so excited to share some developer insights with everyone.

More User Engagement

One of the first things you might notice is that, you can do a lot more without even having an account on the Polana Cookbook. From adding recipes to grocery lists, saving recipes and even adding ingredients you don’t like are all available without the need of registering an account.

We strived to provide people with as much engagement opportunities as possible. We achieved most of this by automatically creating temp accounts that link the user’s device and browser to our site, and allow them to save temporary data. While we do want people to register at some point, we want them to do that at their choice not ours, rather opting to win them over than forcing things on them.

When a person does decide to opt for an account they automatically sync their current temporary data to a centralised account, so that they can access their information from multiple devices.

Predicting the individual’s needs

Another reason for wanting more engagement, was to understand the individual’s behaviour. Using the understanding of behaviour, and the many links the recipe information offered us, to better try and understand what type of chef you are. These where key things we were looking for, so that we can use that data to predict what you wanted. This means that the recipes displayed are more relevant to an individual’s needs, and the more the user engages, the better predictions can be made.

We want the Polana Cookbook to be automatically customised to your cooking preferences. Currently there are many more data collection points we hope to use in the future, so that we can improve our predictions even more and offer you more in return.

Improving the experience

We also wanted to offer you a better user and cooking experience, and thus added many small things to improve that experience. From the simple font re-sizing option and use of ingredient images to simplify identification and readability. All in the hopes that it can help you to not have to keep your device so close to the hot oil, or have it covered in food at the end of your cooking.

We really tried to look at as much as needed to offer you a better experience. This is the reason for creating the “Not for Me List”, which we spend hours almost arguing the full purpose and name of this list. We first wanted to call it the “Allergy List”, but then realising it could be used by people with food intolerances, vegetarians, vegans, Banting or hell you just don’t like tomatoes like me. Whatever your reason for using the list is, it offers you an opportunity to directly affect the recipes that you see on the site, based on what you don’t want.

Even when it came to the search we could hardly decide on which route we should go. This is why we offer you three search options all using an ingredient search. We wanted the search to give you options based on either what you’re in the mood for or not, or even what you have leftover in the fridge.

The “I want” search, is there for the times that you know what you’re in the mood for, but not sure exactly what you want. It allows you to add as many ingredients as you want and the results supplied will be in order of most relevant to least relevant recipes based on your ingredients searched.

The “I don’t want” search is almost the exact opposite; it is for those times when you know more about what you’re not in the mood for than what you actually want. The search filters out recipes that have any of the ingredients you tagged in the search.

The “Leftover” search is of course self-explanatory. However, it is the only search that has an ingredient limit on, as each ingredient added drastically decreases the possibility of supplying results. The results given however will have the exact ingredients searched.

Moving Forward

While there are still so many things I can talk about, like our use of emoticons for a rating system. I would rather want you to explore, discover and share the Polana Cookbook. Support the Polana Cookbook so that we can work on making it even better for you.

Visit the Polana Cookbook today at: polanacookbook.com.na

I really do wish to thank Namib Mills for giving us the opportunity to build the Polana Cookbook. Thank you to Advantage Y&R for the amazing design and illustrations as well as the challenging task of content sourcing and uploading. You guys really did a great job.

Polana Cookbook