beta tasting

For cooks who love to experiment

The dessert magazine market is saturated with brands that evoke very old-fashioned forms of domesticity, so my classmates and I set out to create a cooking experience that urban professionals could relish. Using a handful of savory winter fruit recipes, we designed an e-magazine that matches their flavor and satisfies the hunger of this underserved audience. The results, Beta Tasting, mixes the modern person's zeal for data and efficiency without losing the spirit of experimentation.

  • needfinding research
  • market research
  • UX design
  • visual design
  • e-magazine in PDF format

with Jonas Gebhardt , Truc Nguyen , and Aishwarya Suresh


Design an e-magazine for an unmet market

This project was part of an interaction design studio class for my master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction. The assignment required that we create an e-magazine for an untapped market. We needed to transform the provided content ("Stunning Winter Deserts") into a design for an iPad without the benefit of an interactive layer. My team turned these constraints into inspiration.


Domain Research

Beta Tasting evolved over iterative cycles of research, design, and analysis. We analyzed desert magazines, cooking websites, and cookbooks to identify what markets were being served and how each competitor branded itself. We wanted to know:
  • What characterizes a desert magazine?
  • What experience does reader have when reading a cooking magazine?
  • What drives people to cook different types of food?

What We Learned

During our competitive analysis, we found a divide between the world of desert magazines and driven professionals. The aesthetic and information design of publications like Southern Living, Sweet and Desserts recalled a domestic existence from a different era. Written directions, verbose and vague, masked the messiness that can come with cooking, and the photography skipped straight to dessert - perfectly laid out shots of final products.
Images of competition

Our competitive analysis included websites, e-magazines, magazines, and cookbooks.

Our Target Audience: Makers

The kitchen is now the domain for makers, not just homemakers. We created personas that characterized our intended demographic: Modern professionals who value experience and efficiency. Their day-to-day lives are driven by information - from coding to business analytics. Though they love the way technology enhances their lives, each one revels in the tactile world beyond the screen. They aren't afraid to try new things, get their hands dirty and move on to the next challenge. And the kitchen is the perfect place for them to master new skills.
Images of our personas

Our personas are edgy, smart, sophisticated, busy, modern, ambitious, urban, stylish, and data-driven. Cooking is way they can explore.


Our e-magazine reflects our personas' sophisticated tastes. Their appetites for data and hunger to create drove our design on several levels. We gathered images which represented
  • how they might enjoy dressing,
  • how they experience cooking,
  • what do their kitchens look like,
  • and how they consume information.
We distilled colors and fonts from the resulting moodboard and identified other motifs, like light, color saturation, infographics, textures and the appearance of hands, to inform our design language.
While the moodboard yielded a rich design palette, our personas would crave more than aesthetics. We pulled out recipe metadata, like time, temperature, and number of servings, and re-imagined the recipes as infographics. When we analyzed the recipes, we found we could in order to create a logical flow between them.
Rather than using stock photography or imagery found online, my team and I staged a photo shoot (on my kitchen table). The photographs simultaneously represented two narratives. Not only do the pictured ingredients tie to the recipe on that page, but the background photos also depict one step in how to make the last desert featured in the e-magazine.
Since we were restricted to using a PDF with no additional interaction, we turned this constraint into inspiration. We stitched and blended 21 photographs to create a continuous table.

Our design language was refined from our moodboard and through several iterations

We did our own photography because images were as important as the color palette in the cooking magazine domain.

User Feedback and Testing

We sought feedback on our design through design studio critiques, in-person user testing, and online surveys of our intended audience. The reactions and criticisms we gathered enabled us to polish the final product.

Click here to see how the prototype evolved!


Beta Tasting is for people who like getting their hands dirty in the kitchen

You may view the full e-magazine here. Watch as narrative unfolds behind the recipe. We presented this final version to our classmates and Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute design faculty.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact me at tucker [dot] judith [at] gmail [dot] com.