Regular readers of The New York Times will know that the Dining section has been a source of recipes and culinary knowledge for quite some time, but there was never an intuitive way to save dishes you’d like to recreate. Their new dedicated site (cooking.nytimes.com) changes that and allows users to save recipes to a collection for future reference. At first mention you might be asking how this is different from other recipe collection sites on the web such as Epicurious? The difference, and where their potential for success lies from the stance of content publishers, is the user-friendly, native optimized layout.
Recipe sites have an identity problem. Many home cooks, especially in urban areas, now consider sites like Epicurious and FoodNetwork.com to be too mass market and not tailored for enthusiasts. Whether or not great food should be considered a niche is an argument for an entirely different piece but what is fact is that what once were focused, bold interfaces have become cluttered and overwrought. The Spotify vs. Pandora battle is an analogous examples in a different vertical. There’s a reason that Tumblr and Pinterest have been very selective in terms of ad partners and content that are run on the platform. They’re afraid of what I will call the Myspace disease. Allowing advertising to distract from the purpose of the site itself thus cluttering the platform and diminishing the user experience. Visitors decline as a result. In the modern age of digital media relevancy is king. As it should be.
Above: NY Times Cooking Recipe Box
NY Times Cooking, along with other curated recipe sites like Yummly and Gojee, are striving to create an experience that engages users in a more fluid manner. Digital content advertisers should be taking notice. This represents an opportunity for culinary related companies to deliver content to a highly focused and engaged audience. Food news incubators like Grub Street continue to attract great advertisers but have historically been tailored toward a different demographic. While interest is high, those frequenting Grub Street may not be as interested in purchasing Sub-Zero appliances or Shun kitchen knives. Chances are they might not cook at all. Those that eat-out and those who consider themselves home cooks are a similar market in terms of interest but different in terms of purchase intent. Understanding this intent is critical when deciding where to place content. If you have previously been short on discovering engaged users in the culinary space, this is one avenue you’ll want to consider in your future content development plan.
Beta access is currently open and expect popularity to expand in the future if The New York Times can execute this intelligently and provide users with a relevant platform for culinary knowledge.