In a lot of ways, the sharing of recipes harkens back to times past. To a time when family recipes were closely guarded secrets, when picnics and get-togethers were an every weekend affair, and showcasing those family specialities was a point of intense pride.
Sharing recipes was an intimate thing, but in the Web 2.0 world, recipe sharing joined the list of digitally social things to share. Like music and video and status updates about your life, a cacophony of sites sprouted up around the idea of sharing recipes with your friends, family, effectively the world. Beyond that, skilled culinary experts started embracing the blogging culture, spreading their knowledge and sharing their passion with all who would listen.
But as of late, there hasn’t been much innovation in the field of recipe sharing and curation on the Web. Most sites are pretty straightforward, nothing out-of-the-box or original to speak of. Until now.
Enter Gojee. They have a different take on the curation of recipes. Less interested in user generated content, Gojee culls the best recipes from some of the best sources on the Web. They present it in a beautiful, cutting-edge manner. But enough with the summary. Let’s dive into Gojee, see what it has to offer.
Gojee has taken a bold, take-no-prisoners approach with their design. They’ve banked on a technique that’s still somewhat new in web apps: full-screen backgrounds. They’re a tricky beast to nail down. As the responsive movement has shown us, the Web is powerful and important because it’s accessible from anywhere. And adopting this kind of UI convention is just creating more work for yourself. Adapting that design to any screen smaller than a medium desktop display will be extremely time consuming process.
Currently there’s no considerations made to a small-screen context, which truly is a shame. I can think of no better use case for Gojee than when I’m wandering the aisles of my local supermarket and browsing on my smartphone. But in its current iteration, Gojee is simply broken.
That being said, when the full-screen background works, it works well. The rest of the UI is based off that. The interface chrome is kept to a minimum, a simple navigation bar across the top, and an inconspicuous arrow-based navigation on the right and left of the page. On the bottom there is the name of the dish, which if you click on it, will reveal the recipe.
Working through the recipe, a nice on-hover UI is presented to customize the recipe to your tastes, or to what you might have in your pantry. Without getting ahead of myself, the recipe UI does a great job of putting the ingredients of the dish at the forefront. Ingredients are really the heart and soul of Gojee. But we’ll get into that later.
I’d like to pause for a moment, before discussing the content of Gojee, to address a technical issue. Back in March of this year, I wrote an op-ed piece for Web.AppStorm regarding the “#!” (pronounced hash-bang) URL structure.
I won’t get into all the details as to why websites built with this technique are a problem, but to summarize: I’m not a fan of it. I think it’s a real threat to the stability of the Web going forward. And I can’t step back from pointing out that Gojee is using the hash-bang structure. I think it will be a technical issue for them going forward, and its something that they’ll have to deal with in the future. I really encourage you to read my piece from March, but more importantly the articles linked to from it to get a true understanding of all the things in play.
As is true of any web app in this area, it’s the content of the site that matters. Gojee has to tread carefully though. They’re a content curation site, not a content creation one. They aggregate together recipes from some of the most passionate and prolific food bloggers on the Web, and they seem to have done so with those bloggers’ blessings. That’s key. If they were pulling in this content without consulting its creators, we’d have a significant problem.
In reality though, Gojee has taken an extremely classy approach to crediting the writers. Gojee only provides the ingredients for the recipes, which makes sense seeing their approach to recipes in general revolves around ingredients you crave, have, or dislike. But this also is a big help to the sources of these recipes. Because included at the bottom of each recipe is a button linking back to original recipe published on the writer’s site.
And the quality of these recipes is truly top notch. You have intriguing variety, without excessive complexity. Something that presents a challenge to the novice chef, but not one that’s too far out of reach.
Wrapping It Up
All minor quibbles aside, I think Gojee has a bright future ahead of itself. It’s taken a truly classy stand with respect to the writers it builds off of, and if it can continue to do that, it will continue to be successful.
I strongly encourage you to check the site out. The approach of finding recipes based on key ingredients is nothing new, but Gojee executes with style and skill. I hope to see these guys stick around for a while. I know I’ll be using them the next time I’m looking for a recipe.