It is that time of year when many of us pull out our cookbooks or go online to our preferred cooking or food websites to find just the right meal to adorn our holiday tables. Some of us just want our old favorites, not bothering or caring about nutrition. But trends show many of us are paying more and more attention to our family’s health and that good nutrition is becoming a key ingredient in our food preparation, even during the holidays.
A survey conducted by the American Dietician Association shows the percentage of people who don’t want to be bothered about diet and nutrition has decreased substantially from 2002 to 2008, dropping from 32% down to 19%. This segment was as large as 40% in the mid 1990s.
By and large, this trend significantly impacts websites whose primary objective is to provide recipes, menus, culinary information and cooking techniques to the consumer.
In usability studies we’ve conducted on two popular cooking and recipe websites, it was revealed that health and nutrition were important concerns. In particular, site visitors voiced two distinct requests when it came to healthy living:
- Visitors wanted a robust selection of healthy recipes, grouped together and easily located by searching or browsing. In fact, on one site, 40% of the visitors reported healthy recipes were among the most common type of recipes sought, including recipes to accommodate people with special health concerns. Some comments:
“Your website has a pretty good ‘healthy eating’ section, but it would be nice to see it explained a little more.”
“Recipes suited to diabetic exchange.”
“Add gluten-free recipes for people with celiac disease”
Healthy Recipe content access from a
top level navigational button
- Visitors wanted to see nutrition information included for all recipes, and not just for recipes classified as healthy. On one site, 15% felt they had an unsuccessful visit because nutritional information was hit or miss as nutrition information was not provided for all recipes, except for those in the healthy category. Some comments:
“I would like nutrition information with all recipes.”
“I didn’t see any nutritional information for the recipes. That’s very important to me. I would like to see that included with the recipes.”
“A huge drawback for me is that nutritional information is not included for any recipes (except, I believe, those from Healthy Appetite)…adding nutritional data would make me much more likely to visit your site.”
Recipe with no nutritional information,
found outside of “Healthy” Category
Recipe with nutritional information,
found in a “Healthy” category
It was also revealed through these studies that there was not always an adequate amount of nutrition information with the recipes to make a decision. Following are examples of more elaborate nutritional “panels” found with recipes on other popular cooking and recipe websites:
So, when it comes to health and nutrition on cooking and recipe websites, keep the following short list of best practices in mind to satisfy your growing number of health conscious visitors:
- Provide a “Healthy Recipe” category as well as categories to accommodate visitors with common health concerns, like diabetes.
- Provide adequate nutritional information to satisfy the greatest number of visitors. The most common nutritional requests are information for fat, calories, cholesterol, carbohydrates and sugars.
- If possible, elaborate on nutritional information to include daily values, vitamins and other supplemental nutrients.
- Provide nutritional information for all recipes, not just for the recipes that fall into a “healthy” category.
- Ensure nutritional information abuts the recipe, ideally on the left or right side.
- Ensure nutritional information is well designed, using an easily readable format such as the labels found on product packaging.
Your efforts to give your site visitors a healthy and nutritious perspective could be one of the most important ingredients in a culinary website.