Throw a Dinner Party
Design for cooking and eating experience
Hosting family and friends is something many people avoid doing these days because of the behind-the-scenes labor of prepping and cooking a meal.
At Blue Apron, the customer experience and design team developed the dinner party box with small kitchen owners in mind. Our goal was to ease the stress of home chefs and to create an intuitive, accessible, and user-friendly process. This is the first time that Blue Apron pursued a multicourse product, which had many layers of problems that needed to be solved.
1. Communication between internal teams
This project had different systems and the first thing needed was a concise way for the product to be understood by internal teams. As a systems thinker and human-centric designer, I came up with a visual map to help the different teams to recognize at what points they would be joining the process.
2. The unboxing moment
Our goal was to design a delightful dinner party experience for our customers. After making an online purchase, the period spent waiting for delivery can be stressful for some customers. The unboxing moment is therefore very crucial in terms of the overall experience. At Blue Apron, the core products inside the box are packaged with the separate recipe cards on top of the liner that protects the food. Sometimes these recipe cards fall behind the liner during transport and users have complained about the difficulty of finding the recipes after unboxing. As the dinner party box is more of a luxury item, it needed a new approach to enhance the unboxing moment. I collaborated with a graphic designer from the creative team at Blue Apron to address this issue. We developed a tray which holds the recipe card, which helps keep the box appearing perfectly organized at the moment of unboxing.
3. Game Plan
There is a four-course meal in the box. As this was the first time Blue Apron created a multicourse product, it was of utmost importance to develop a user experience that would be joyful rather than stressful. My team and I worked with our test kitchen chefs and recipe writers to create one recipe card for four dishes and we called it the Game Plan.
The game plan designed based on the map I created for the internal conversation. The game plan was not only about chef tips and cooking steps but it also helped the home chefs see the whole journey at once. We wanted users to understand when they might take breaks during the (longer than normal Blue Apron) cooking process, how many dishes there would be at the end of the journey, and when they should start to cook and how to prepare their table.
The map divided the project into Blue Apron before, digital experience, fulfilment, physical experience, customer experience, eating, and after. While the details of most of these pieces remain confidential, here I am able to share the digital and physical user experience parts of this process which are available to the public.
4. Connections between operation, sustainability, physical products, and user experience
We realized that there would be many ingredients needed for each box and that they would all be loose inside the box. This situation created many problems ranging from the damage of some vegetables due to over-chilling to the loss of some ingredients during the operations at the fulfilment center.
We needed to design a new system that would help the associates at the fulfilment center know where to place the ingredients inside the box and create fewer steps for them to make boxing more efficient. Any changes in the packaging of the ingredients inside the box would affect the user experience during preparations and cooking. We developed a coding and kitting system idea. We created 4 kits for this: 1) Aromatics and Lemons 2) Chef's Pantry Picks 3) Herbs and Scallions 4) Loose in the Box.
We used geometry codes on the physical packages, on the game plan, and also on the ingredient list. This helps home chefs find the ingredients easier during the prepping and cooking.