Allrecipes.com recently launched a more social, search-focused version of itself. The redesign was polarizing to say the least. With so much hate toward its new look, how is Allrecipes.com doing a month later?
The search-like elements of Allrecipes.com made the redesign a perfect story for Search Engine Watch. A majority of the reader comments were negative, reflecting a similar sentiment seen on Reddit and an article on GeekWire, as well as the site’s Facebook page. The most common grievance seemed to pertain to a decrease in usability, a casualty of the site’s new Pinterest board look.
“We’re already using Pinterest; we don’t need another Pinterest,” says Stephanie Ouyoumjian, director of strategy at DDB San Francisco and a longtime Allrecipes.com user. “When I go to Pinterest, Pinterest actually knows me and is putting stuff in front of my face that has to do with me. This isn’t based on me at all, and I’ve been a member for seven years. [Allrecipes.com] knows everything about me.”
She says that the advertisements – native ads that are mixed in with the recipes – don’t reflect her preferences, which have been set for years between her ratings and organized recipe book. Also, she finds the search capabilities overwhelming with less filtering options than before. For example, she mentions being able to search for pot roast and sort results by things like cooking style and time to prepare, as opposed to now when you get every pot roast recipe on the site.
According to Ouyoumjian, people’s problem with the new Allrecipes.com is rooted in the fact that cooking is so personal.
“When you think about culture and society, what are the last things to get integrated into a new culture? Take any society and integrate them, and food and music are the two things that stay because they’re so personal,” says Ouyoumjian. “I’ve fed my family [from Allrecipes.com] from the time they were little babies. It’s been a part of my daily life, and you don’t mess with that – so you see how people take it so personally.
“The worst thing you can do as a marketer is try to be all things to all people,” she adds. “I know they have to attract Millennials, but Millennials need [the site] to be usable too. If you grow the market at the risk of dissolving your base, it’s a problem.”
Allrecipes.com did take the base into consideration, says Esmee Williams, the company’s vice president of brand strategy. According to Williams, the redesign was informed by community insights, as well as overall industry trends.
Mobile users dictated the new design, for example, since they make up two-thirds of the site’s users and have had a huge impact on recent Google algorithms. The more visual layout is also a response to what’s popular, as well as the fact that “people eat with their eyes,” according to Williams.
“The sites that have the greatest amount of consumption or traffic are those that are highly visual and celebrate food, and we wanted to do that too,” says Williams. “Folks are so busy and have so many different screen sizes that sometimes text isn’t optimal, so we felt images were a much more compelling way to browse food.”
Despite the negativity, Williams said the redesign has, in fact, gone over well. Since the new site was unveiled, there have been 54 million events shared, which include things such as people clicking the “I Made It” button, or following other users and brands. Last month, 92,000 people used the I Made It feature, a 300 percent growth over last year. In addition, 250,000 people are following cooks now, compared with 1,500 people doing so a year ago.
Williams adds that search is up on the site, as is Google referrals and category search share. While many users may not like the site changes, she notes that the resistance often fizzles out fairly quickly. Case in point: the angry comments on your newsfeed every time there’s a significant Facebook update.
“When people use something daily, it becomes very familiar and comfortable to them,” says Williams, adding that the new layout is also somewhat familiar to anyone who uses social media. “I think social dominates the time people spend on mobile so we looked to those design conventions and we did use that to inform our own. I think some of the younger, socially-active cooks are really excited and flow right into the design because it did seem familiar.”