Research Synthesis Design Solution

Low-Carb Life  


01 Overview

Directed Storytelling

This portion of our research process consisted of retrospective accounts or "directed story telling" from real Atkins and South Beach dieters. The people we interviewed had diverse ages (from mid 20's to late 50's) and socioeconomic status (undergrad students to upper-middle-class professionals).

Specifically, we interviewed:

  • A professional couple who plan their own South Beach meals
  • A mother of two on South Beach who works full time and cooks dinner for her family
  • A graduate student who drifts in and out of the Atkins diet
  • An undergrad student who recently abandoned the Atkins diet

Note: We included South Beach dieters because of the similarity of the two diets. Both have the exact same structure, but South Beach also limits fat content of food.

what we learned

The stories we elicited contained many similar patterns of recipe selection as well as a variety of idiosyncrasies in meal planning behaviors. The most consistent think we observed is that since these diets are protein/meat heavy, meals are centered around the meats people had on hand or were allowed to eat. Also, since some phases of these diets are more restrictive than others, many people use substitutions to adapt recipes to their restrictions.

To see more about what these people told us, go to Directed Storytelling

Competitive Analysis

We looked at a wide variety of recipe search web sites. Some seemed to satisfy a certain niche or have a distinct personality. Some were well designed, some were minimalist, and some had every feature you could think of. In general, they showed us a lot of interesting features and that the balance between simplicity and features is important.

To see some examples, go to Competitive Analysis

Brick & Mortar Observations

From our directed storytelling, we got a very good idea of what people do when looking for a recipe (see Directed Storytelling for more info). We noticed that people like to flip through a book looking for something they think they would want to eat (i.e. "this one looks flavorful") or for something that they can make with what they have on hand. This approach limits the number of recipes available by the length of the recipe book and does not allow customization. Conversely, the recipe book sits in the kitchen, is easily annotated, is portable and doesn't have pop-up ads.

See Brick & Mortar Obs. for a more about the differences between the web and the recipe book.

IID 2005 . Human-Computer Interaction Institute . Carnegie Mellon University