Hello there

I'm currently open to hearing about UI/UX/product design opportunities in the New York area . Please don't bother if you're trying to hire a developer. I love working with them, but I am not one myself. I will also accept photos and videos of chubby cats.

Brooklyn, NY

Caitlin Osbahr is a user interface designer in Brooklyn and this is her website.

The Tasty App

From a social-only video powerhouse to a native app with a million users in less than 4 months.

What is Tasty?

Tasty is the largest food brand on social, with millions of followers on Facebook. You might recognize videos like this Churro Ice Cream Bowl.

While teams at BuzzFeed made some attempts at representing Tasty’s huge popularity on BuzzFeed.com with lightweight branding of feed pages and articles, it wasn’t until my cross-functional squad was launched that BuzzFeed could double down on creating a uniquely useful, monetizable product that didn’t shoehorn Tasty content into the feed + listicle format.

Our mission

How might we make home cooking fun and accessible?

the team

1 product manager, 1 frontend engineer, 3 iOS engineers, 2 backend engineers, 1 data scientist, and me (lead product designer!)

Business goals

Design and launch an iPhone app (+ backend tooling and sibling website w/shareable canonical URLs) in ~4 months to prove out whether Tasty has a future as a standalone O&O brand.

  • Hit (redacted) MAU

  • Sync public launch with anniversary celebration

  • Become a desirable partner for monetization/facilitate deal-making

  • Make structured data/SEO a priority to better leverage our content

  • Avoid workflow changes for content creators

  • Differentiation from social platforms

Defining V1

Along with the team’s product manager, I dove into Tasty headfirst by understanding what we could do uniquely for our audience. First, I dug into market research that BuzzFeed’s team had collected. To augment this and get a better understanding of what a standalone digital product outside of Facebook or Instagram, we did dozens of phone interviews with Tasty followers across the United States to understand how Tasty fit into their cooking life.

We also got a better understanding of how Tasty fit in amongst other cooking resources by doing collaborative competitive audits.

What Tasty does for its fans (or, Jobs to be done)

  • Batch cook and save for later

  • Feel confident that “I can do this” 

  • Connect with significant other by cooking together

  • Pure aesthetic pleasure

  • Relax by doing something creative away from screens

  • Impress someone

  • Accomplish something creative

  • Make something specifically for my picky taste

  • Save money instead of going out to eat

  • Cook healthy food for myself

  • Try something new/get out of a rut

  • Provide a basic idea that I can tweak

  • Bond with Mom

Differentiators for a Tasty standalone product

  • Not just a feed of videos. provide value Facebook can't by focusing on content density, searchable recipes, and easy-to-follow UI

  • At-a-glance step by step - improve beyond the current experience of rewatching/scrubbing videos over and over in the kitchen to follow along 

  • Vegetarian mode for our vocal veg audience

  • Search based on use cases and events, not just dietary restrictions

  • Keep content fresh and resurface evergreen content – with no manual curation

  • One-tap bookmarking

  • Provide metric values for non US users

Early exploration

Early on, I began blocking out the core IA of the app on the whiteboard to get consensus from the team. This helped guide the direction of API while the frontend design was still very much in flux.

An early whiteboard exploration of possible app IA and the main user flow

An early whiteboard exploration of possible app IA and the main user flow

The biggest area of investigation was the home screen of the app – what we came to call the discover feed. We had a huge back catalog of content that wasn’t being used to its fullest extent. Typically, Tasty’s traffic was driven largely by new videos or republished content based on a social media strategy optimized for Facebook. Our standalone app, though, could recommend timely and relevant content to satisfy what users might really looking for at any given time – like easy chicken dinners on a Wednesday, or cocktails around happy hour on Friday.

Early blocking out of a discover feed with a recommendation engine

Through recurring usability tests with users and internal stakeholders, we began settling on a basic structure: a featured item with a high confidence it’s something a user wants to make, carousels resurfacing timely evergreen content, followed by an infinite reverse chronological feed.

There was no existing visual language at that time so as I fleshed out the basic bones of the app, I was in parallel developing a style guide and testing it against our core use cases of search and discover.

Exploring visual chrome on Discover

Testing visual patterns against Search

Refine through prototyping

Throughout the process to get to v1 launch, I built dozens of clickthroughs and higher fidelity prototypes, testing and refining each key feature and screen. Providing a comprehensive but intuitive search and filter experience was an integral feature at launch.

More than just discovery, our mission was to really help people to take Tasty’s “food porn” and get into the kitchen – so using a recipe needed to be legible both up-close, and from arms reach in the kitchen. Even before these prototypes, I did a lot of exploration of visual detail – how to structure the ingredient list so it’s easily scannable, and how to make our step by step mode easily accessible from a fixed CTA as well as deep link into a single step.

Videos TK

The result

Video TK

How did we do?

App store snapshot

App store snapshot

  • Hit aggressive deadline with worldwide app store launch in about 5 months, had over a million active users in 1 week, and consistently maintained 4.9 star app store rating since launch 

  • Added connected device support in the fall

  • Proved enough stickiness and opportunity for partnerships/monetization to pursue an Android app, iPad, and a standalone website

All in all, it was a success bolstered by the continued work we put in to flesh out our offerings as we learned more about our users’ behavior. Before my departure, I also designed and shipped features including: natively rendered articles, alternate log-in methods (phone), a Walmart partnership, connected cooktop, iPad support, improved saved recipe organization and recipe ratings and reviews.