Week 46

New homepage! You get that yet? You should have. The new homepage is solving a few different problems for us, and hopefully you.

The top layer gives you the latest content from ChefSteps, regardless of our categorization of it. We’re thinking about doing away with that categorization all together (recipes, techniques, science) because it seems to mean more to us than to users. Can anyone confirm that? In any case, you’ll always see the latest up there.

On the left side, we’re highlighting a few of our courses. If you’ve enrolled in a course and haven’t yet finished it, we’ll show you the course and give you a chance to continue it, because we really want to make sure you get 100% of the content there—We’ve put a lot of work into our courses and will only continue to get more.

Lastly, we have an activity feed! This shows you everything that anyone does on the site. It’s sort of a firehose right now, but the reason why is because there’s always activity happening on the site and this lets you see what other Steppers are interacting with. We UXers like to call that serendipitous discovery. Later, you’ll be able to filter that list based on who you follow (yup, following coming soon) and by trending areas.

Okay, easter egg: Click on Community Activity to take you to the page that loads just activity, then on your iPhone (yeah, unfortunately only for iPhone right now) click Bookmark > Add to Home Screen to get a sweet app icon to save on your phone and have the community activity on ChefSteps a tap away. Week 47 coming fast. Peace.

Week 43

I’m reading a few different books right now, one of which is The Experience Economy, which talks a lot about adding theatricality to your service to create an experience. I’ve been thinking a lot about that with our interfaces and how we can make it more satisfying to users when they do things we like them to do: cook food, practice techniques, take courses (and cook that food), and add recipes. These are all things we want people to do on a regular basis because it’s the best way to get better. Practice quenelles with crisco! You can upload those pictures, too; it’s important for people to learn the how of getting better at cooking, and practicing is part of that. We’re going to make it feel more satisfying to do that as well.

We launched the knife sharpening course last week which has gotten a lot of uptake quite quickly. There’s a dozen pics that are proof positive that Steppers have some kick-ass, sharp knives. We’re about to get hooked up with some really sweet knives and sharpening kits, so stay tuned for that. I definitely need to do some sharpening, so can’t wait to get some stones. And probably a new knife.

I was making myself some coffee one day in the staff kitchen and I really don’t have any idea how to make good coffee on our crazy awesome La Marzocco machine, and Grant just laughs at me (in a nice way) and says, have you not had a lesson? I had one from Ryan a while back, but I forget a lot of things (my 1.5-year-old son kicks me in the head while he’s sleeping sometimes). So he gives a quick run through and I realize again that I am exceedingly lucky to have had that lesson, on a whim, on an average day at work. But I don’t get to play back a video or written documentation to show me exactly how to perfect my technique. Everyone in the ChefSteps community, however, does and even has the access to the chefs if you have questions about what you’re doing. I think that is pretty amazing.

Week 4(1)

I’m jumping ahead in time here, because it’s really week 41 since ChefSteps launched, and weeks 40 and 39 just kind of disappeared into the abyss and now we’re looking at week 41 and there’s a ton of stuff to highlight:

Michael was hard at work on getting Beta testing up on some User-created Recipes — If you’re interested in being a beta-tester, please let him know. More at the forum. He was also hard at work on gallery pages which have gotten some UI upgrades: You can now filter by recipe skill level (easy/intermediate/hard) and any new content on the site at all is accessible through this page — just hit “any” in the filter and you should see everything from newest to oldest.

Google Chrome

Huy was busy with getting a nice upgrade to profiles: Notifications show up if anything you’ve uploaded has been starred or commented on by other users as a badge up in the top right, and in your timeline, we call those things out with a little “new” badge as well. Pretty sweet. He’s also working on some yet-to-be-released new homepage stuff, so keep on the lookout.

Another big feature from Huy: Uploads now have integrated commenting, so that you don’t have to log in to Disqus in order to comment on other people’s uploads. Here’s a few nice uploads folks have done to get you started: Baselerd’s Salmon 104, Xavi Meros Asencio’s Cod brandade gnocchi, Jeff Minuk’s delicious looking Pomme Rösti with poached egg. Go ahead and click through and comment away; these dishes are really beautiful so kudos to those folks that have uploaded.

I did some work on the About page, which got a little facelift and introduces you to the team and links out to the jobs page, which, I should mention: We’re looking for some help! Check out the open positions. You could be here!:

I also revamped the footer to get everything organized a little bit more and to better emphasize the main areas of the site. We’ll get around to doing this for the main navigation too, once we get a few other awesome new features sorted out.

Lastly, we also made it easier to share links for recipes and things out to others by just clicking the email button in the share panel below the videos. Please share liberally! We’ve got some more great things coming up soon from both the content and website worlds. Stay tuned!

Cheers,
-t