25 Minute Chef

When asked, “How did you learn to cook?”, most people can’t give a specific answer. It’s not easy to learn how to cook because there is no step-by-step guide to take you from being a beginner to a home chef. 25 Minute Chef is an app that will solve that: You will learn to cook by leveling up.


I was a part of a collaborative, 2-person product design team.

We worked collaboratively on applying most of the stages of the UX process—user research and analysis, wireframes, testing, prototypes--to develop the solution.

I was in charge on developing and implementing visual design.


We wanted to solve a common problem experienced by young people. Our first step was to come up with proto-personas. These personas aren't real, but we think they will have some predictable characteristics.

Busy working professionals have a difficult time cooking due to lack of skill and time.

Busy Ben

Bio & Demographics


• Cooks uninteresting staple meals to eat for the week
• Listens to talkshows on NPR and attempts to hear about recipes/food
• Watches the news for any quick recipe takeaways


• Cook good, consistent meals to eat for the week
• Use a resource to learn about recipes/food
• Look for quick recipe takeaways

Stories & Scenarios

He would be seen at grocery stores and major supermarkets trying to pick up various ingredients for a meal to cook that night. He has his phone on to read off the ingredients asked for in a newspaper food blog he came across.


Based on our proto persona's, we went out to find people who would fit the profile. We started our search in Santa Monica, CA (specifically, Santa Monica Promenade). We were actually quite surprised by how many people fit our persona. After a couple of hours, we found our perfect match.


• Do you cook?
• Tell me about the last time you prepared a meal? What was your experience like coming up with the idea of what to make? How did you come up with an idea for dinner?
• What’s your biggest challenge in cooking dinner?
• How are you currently dealing with this challenge?
• Who or what is involved with this solution/process? How long does this take?
• What do you currently like about your current solution/process?
• Is there some other solution/process for cooking a meal that you’ve tried in the past that was better or worse?
• What do you wish you could do that currently isn’t possible or practical?

Interview Highlights

“Takes me a lot of time to cook because I don’t know techniques.”

-Male, early 30s, software developer

“I like to cook anything that’s fast & simple!”

-Woman, early 30s

“Recipes need to be simple and not in too many steps. The whole process must be an hour or less.”

-Male, early 30s

“I like to make the same recipe multiple times so I can get better.”

-Male, early 30s

Customer Zoom

Busy Ben


• He asks his sister for recipes but also looks online
• He repeats same the recipe multiple times
• He budgets his time

Unique Traits:

• Unskilled in cooking
• Busy


• Late 20s, early 30s
• Young professional
• Disposable income
• Technologically savvy
• Health-conscious
• Physically fit

Unique Offer

We want to help young professionals who aren't skilled in cooking save time by offering them an educational cooking app that builds off their experience level.

We are different from our competitors because we aren't creating a dish, we are creating a cook.

Product Market Fit

We had to identify our personas biggest pain points and goals. Next, we had to develop features that would resolve these pain points and goals. Due to time constraints, we focused only on a few of his needs that we ultimately incorporated into our MVP.


It takes too much time to cook and follow recipes.


Provide recipes that are quick and time efficient.


Recipes in the app can be completed within 25 minutes (+5 min serving time).


Unskilled in cooking and many recipes are difficult to follow.


Teach you how to cook and enable skill building.


The app will let the users progress through levels of cooking.


There is a lack of inspiration in cooking.


Create motivation and interest to make this a positive process.


The app will show users their progress, and reward them as they move up.

Competitive Canvas

It is no secret that cooking/recipe apps and websites are everywhere. However, we had to see if anybody is doing what we set out to do. This also helped us see what is working for others and what we should avoid.

User Flows

Storyboarding and Sketches

Now that we have a general idea of what direction we are taking this app in, it's time to start designing. In order to do rapid prototyping and not waste much time, we started with pen and paper. This allowed us to do dozens of variations and immediately test them amongst ourselves and users.

Tasks & First Usability Testing

To test our early prototypes, we gave users scenarios and tasks we wanted them to achieve. Below are some examples of those tasks:

Task Scenario #1 – Goal: Becoming a cook

You are having friends over for a dinner party. You’re nervous because you don’t know what to cook, how to cook it, and how well it will turn out. You wish you were a better cook. You are expecting a party of 5. In the future, you’d like to host more dinner parties because you love having people over.

Task: Using 25 Minute Chef app, cook a meal that would impress your friends.

Task Scenario #2: Saving time

You are always on the run. You work full-time and your partner also works late nights. You usually are the one to prepare dinner, but you don’t have much time during the evenings. You hope that you don’t have to think much about what to prepare for dinner, but you also want it to be good and fast.

Task: Using 25 Minute Chef app, find and select a recipe that you think you can finish in 25 minutes.

Lessons learned:

Sketches are not making it clear what is an active button and what is still 'locked.' Due to lack of details, users are also confused about what are supposed to be recipe instructions and what are supposed to be descriptions of recipes. Users were wondering if there was swiping involved, and if they can just swipe through the recipes.

Wireframes & Testing

After usability testing was finished with sketches only, we moved on to wireframes. This allowed us to increase fidelity and see where users might still have issues. Additional tasks were also added.

Task Scenario #3 – Goal: Saving a recipe

You cooked a great meal and all your friends loved the dinner. You want to save this recipe to use again in the future. How do you go about saving a recipe using 25 Minute Chef, and how do you organize your saved recipes list?

Task: Using 25 Minute Chef app, save a favorite recipe and organize your list.

Lessons learned:

We learned that users didn't fully understand that the recipes were divided into different skill levels. We addressed this with visual design.

Visual Design

For testing purposes, image place holders were taken from BlueApron.com

Do They Get It?

We wanted to see if users would understand the functions of the app based on the first screen and very limited information. Before they saw an image and were asked questions, they were presented with this simple scenario: "You've download an app based on a friend's suggestion."

101 people were polled.

Lessons learned:

From testing, we were able to see that with not much information, users were able to see that it was a cooking/recipe app, but were unable to identify that it's a skill-based app. A lot of users confused the green number for either likes or comments, or just simply didn't know what it was. The worst part was realizing that users thought the 'locked' recipes were micro-transactions (i.e. in-app purchases).

What do you think this app is about?

  • Cooking / Recipe
  • Other

What do you think the green numbers mean?

  • Difficulty / Skill
  • Serving Size
  • Number of Likes
  • Number of Times Downloaded
  • Number of Reviews
  • Other / Not Sure

Why do you think items are ‘locked’?

  • Unlocked by Skill
  • In App Purchase
  • Other / Not Sure

Fixing the Perception

With the changes made, we wanted to see if users could easily tell that this is a skill-based app, and at the same time eliminate the idea that the app offers in-app micro-transactions on the home screen. All we did was replace the logo with "Level 1 Chef." We asked the same questions as before.

Lessons learned:

We saw that with just a small change, we are able to drastically increase the comprehension of the app's functionality. 47% (78% all together) more users assumed correctly that the 'green numbers' referred to skill levels and 37% (60% all together) more assumed that some items were locked because you have to level up first.