Handpick was founded on helping to reduce food waste. Approximately 60 million metric tons of food are wasted annually in the U.S. alone. According to the EPA, more than 96% of the food we throw away ends up in landfills, where it breaks down to produce methane gas. Eighty-five times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere, methane gas is a key driver in speeding up global warming.
At its core, Handpick addresses the universal challenge of what to do with food ingredients that people already have on-hand. Unlike traditional recipe sites and food apps that tell people what to cook, which is typically driven by holidays or seasonal-themes, Handpick's approach is different. Instead, individuals determine what recipes they will be presented by entering ingredients they already have on-hand, whether from their freezer, fridge or pantry. Based off the ingredients entered, the app delivers inspiration via an array of appealing dish ideas and corresponding recipes. Users can review what appeals to them and then determine what they want to cook.
In building its app, Handpick recognized social hashtags were crucial in social media, so they developed a way to search by hashtags as well. Now users can customize their search (i.e.: #vegan, #seafood, #foodporn, etc.), opening a new door for users to discover social food from around the world.
Handpick is the only company enabling social food search. Its unique multi-ingredient search saves users time from having to go to the grocery store to buy a list of ingredients to cook the next meal. Handpick's approach encourages people to proactively cook with food they already have and minimize their food waste. As an bonus, this helps people stretch their food budgets more effectively because they are not buying more but are using what they have.
Instead of just relying on technology to automate and drive all the app's functionality, Handpick combines big data, powerful data mining across leading social networks, and image recognition technology with a human touch by way of a content team, who carefully reviews and selects the social food posts and recipes that will ultimately make it into Handpick's industry-leading database of recipes.
In designing the app, Handpick faced numerous design challenges, including:
Designing and presenting an intuitive navigation that enabled users to tap into the app's more than 10,000,000 dishes.
Determining a design that could present millions of recipes in a balanced way that was appealing to users and enticed them to explore the array of colorful, visually appealing dishes and their corresponding recipes.
Designing a way to not only manage but present users with a database of more than 10,000 food ingredients -- while maintaining an intuitive UI all without making the app look cluttered and noisy.
Conceptualizing how to offer and enable each user to create and manage their own personal digital recipe boxes.
Handpick made a few strategic design decisions as it set about to tackle these and other design challenges. It focused functionality of the app around 3 key design elements (Dishes, Ingredients and Topics).
The Dish element is a daily feed of the world's best dishes on Instagram and other top food blogs or websites. The app's socially shared food posts include dishes from 1.6 million content creators worldwide. Handpick's app delivers individuals, busy moms, chefs, home cooks and food lovers access to more than 100,000,000 socially shared dish posts.
In designing the “Dishes" section of the app, Handpick's team of content editors evaluate and decide all the photos that users see in the app. After food photos from Instagram have been processed and introduced into Handpick's app, they are filtered again through the content editorial team who checks for quality of photos, accuracy of ingredient matches, composition, color, lighting, ensuring the photo is only of food (photos of people do not match the acceptable criteria). This process was introduced to keep the quality of photos consistent throughout the app and to offer the best food photos and dishes. There was also an emphasis made to let the photos speak for themselves and avoid adding or introducing any text on top of any photograph.
The Ingredients element of the app was streamlined around what users could do and how the app would respond. Handpick pulled out other functionality that, though while useful, taxed the user experience. For example, the old app required users to tap 3-4 times to select an ingredient, due to the complex category system with the 10,000+ ingredients list. With the newer version of Handpick's app, the design team was inspired by a leading messaging app in China, used by 500 million people, that allows users to interact with a long list (contacts in the case of the messaging app) so that Handpick's users only need tap a single time to select an ingredient, speeding up the process and improving the overall user experience.
Handpick's Topics functionality is a simple, fast and easy way to help users create their own custom topics and then begin collecting, following and sharing food topics that interest them. The app lets users browse through 1,000s of food trends, diets, occasions, and cuisines, personalized to their liking and select any of the recipes they like to either save in their own personal topics or cook any of the recipes.
Handpick's app is aesthetically clean, minimal and runs exceedingly fast. Anybody who has used traditional web-based recipe sites is familiar with slow response times. Handpick instantly displays an array of mesmerizing dish ideas that can inspire anyone who isn't sure what's for dinner.
Since February, Handpick has been favorably recognized (i.e.: Best App of the Week, Must-Have app, Best Android app, 7 awesome iPhone apps, Best apps for food waste) and is the recipient of ongoing recognition by an array of blogs, news outlets, publications and TV/podcast segments for its user-friendly approach and overall utility. Handpick is fortunate enough to receive ongoing positive recommendations from its users every day via social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), who praise the utility and value of the app.
Following is a brief video introduction into Handpick's app.