When BBC Good Food wanted to understand the next play to cater for its millions of users, we pioneered a successful move into voice-driven recipes delivered by Alexa.
BBC Good Food has been synonymous with home cooking for more than 30 years. It has a market-leading magazine, a website with over 50 million users, online classes, podcasts and a live show. But technology moves fast, and the team were looking for their next move.
We believed that the time was right for voice-led recipes. Almost 40% of people have a smart speaker, and voice prompts are ideal when your hands are full of ingredients. As one of Amazon’s featured Voice Skill Builders, we pioneered a process to create voice-first cook-along experiences.
Creating a hands-free cooking Skill was complex. We needed to understand how people really cooked, and how the Skill could align with this from start to finish.
We worked tirelessly to find the shortest number of steps to funnel the recipes down from 11,000 to one. Too many questions led to a frustrating experience; too few made it hard to land on a suitable choice. We also had to address the limitations of the content itself. The phrasing of ingredients and length of the method steps were ideal for reading, but not for listening.
To optimise the listening experience, we introduced relevant pauses whilst Alexa was reading out steps for a recipe. This prevented listeners being overloaded with information and gave them time to find ingredients.
Cooking isn’t always a smooth process, so we also made it possible for users to ask Alexa to repeat steps. And if people were ever interrupted with other goings-on in the household, the skill could remember where they stopped, and pick up exactly where they left off.
The BBC Good Food Skill went from a prototype to an MVP in the space of three months: a remarkable achievement considering the complexity of the Skill and the design challenges that we faced.
We collaborated extensively with the BBC Good Food team and Amazon throughout the project. It was this partnership, our thorough testing and fast lines of communication that allowed for the rapid turnaround from inception to delivery. Now we have a Skill that is perfectly adapted to the nuances of voice and delivers a highly workable and enjoyable cooking experience.