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Why are recipe websites so bad?

October 25, 2021

Recipe websites are notoriously annoying and difficult to use. You’re in the kitchen, trying to whip up a quick dinner, and Google “meatloaf recipe”. 

Every result you click into starts with a 1,000-word essay. You keep scrolling to try to find the actual recipe. You are blasted with an ad every three sentences. A box pops up asking you for your email address. Finally, you find the recipe buried somewhere in the middle of the page — and then a new popup appears with an auto-play video blasting, covering up the information you’re trying to read. You begin to stir your concoction, and your phone screen goes blank, so you have to re-input your password and then scroll a million miles to find your place in the recipe.

We all know the experience. We’re all frustrated with it. So why does nothing change?

The typical recipe blog user experience

There are a handful of components of recipe blogs that users find very frustrating.

Long introductions

Recipe blogs are notorious for long introductions. Some intros are boring and don’t provide helpful information, written only for word count. But give the copy a chance — most creators put a lot of thought and energy into crafting content that shares the history, context, and meaning of the dish, and they may also share tips that will help you be successful when you try the recipe.

Ads

Almost any recipe blog will have lots and lots of ads. There will be ads above the content, in the sidebar, and in between paragraphs. Let’s be honest, nobody likes ads. Unfortunately, ads are the main way that most bloggers earn money from their websites, so for a lot of bloggers, they are non-negotiable. 

Auto-play videos

Auto-play videos are a popular type of ad that is common on recipe blogs. They overlay the content you are trying to access, and you often are not able to click out of them. Again, this is a common way that bloggers make money as users are forced to watch the advertisement before they can access the content.

Email capture popups

Most food blogs will have a popup that asks you for your email address. They may offer to share a free digital download or exclusive content with you in exchange for your email. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to build an audience and make revenue from web traffic.

Slow load time

All of these elements — ads, videos, long introductions, popups, in combination with high-resolution photography, results in a website that loads incredibly slowly. 

It is very difficult to make money as a creator

What it comes down to is, creators spend a lot of time and effort on their content. A creator may spend 15 hours or more to make a single blog post: developing the recipe, making and photographing the recipe, editing posts, and videos, writing the blog post, writing and designing social media posts. Most bloggers are independent creators, not paid creators for a business, and so these 15 hours are unpaid unless their content is highly monetized. Most bloggers don’t even earn the equivalent of a minimum wage from their content. 

Bloggers also have expenses including a domain name, website hosting, social media, and design tools, photography equipment, and the ingredients they use in their recipes. 

Demanding a brief, ad-free, popup-free experience is essentially demanding that the blogger do work for free.

Bloggers are just as frustrated as readers

While some people start food blogs with dreams of making tons of money, it can take years to ever break even. Making a minimum wage or less, it’s uncommon for any successful blogger to do it for the money. Successful bloggers create content because they have something important they want to share with their readers. Bloggers understand that endless ads and popups are a frustrating experience.

Ultimately, bloggers really want you to like their blog. They want you to have a pleasant experience, remember your name, and come back to visit the next time you need a dinner recipe. 

The problem isn’t food bloggers, the problem is the system

Unfortunately, bloggers are not able to have a positive, ad-free, popup-free user experience, and also earn enough money to cover their expenses or turn a profit. 

Food bloggers need long-form content to gain SEO traffic so they get enough views of their ads. They need ads all over their content so that they can earn more money from each user that visits the recipe. They need popups to capture your email address so that they can send you future articles or offer you products to purchase. 

A better, more equitable recipe experience with Reciple

Reciple is working on a platform to solve the recipe experience problem: a sleek, simple, ad-free user experience where creators can earn up to 10x or more per pageview than they do from ads. Reciple fixes all of the things that people hate about food blogs, while also allowing creators to diversify their income and earn a fair wage for their efforts. Click here to join Reciple.

Creators deserve to get paid

The bottom line is, creators deserve to get paid. Historically there has been no good solution that allows bloggers to earn a fair wage while providing users with a great experience. Consider supporting recipe creators by subscribing to their Patreon, tipping them directly, or buying their cookbooks.

Things recipe bloggers are doing to improve user experience

Reciple bloggers are incredibly innovative and resilient, and they have found many creative ways to help improve the user experience of their blogs while protecting their revenue as much as possible.

Jump to the recipe

Most recipe blogs will now have a “jump to the recipe” button or link at the top of the page. This allows you to skip over the introduction text and get straight to the recipe. Because the button can look different on every blog, it can be hard to catch but is a very useful tool especially when you are directly cooking from the recipe. 

The “Keep awake” feature

The “keep awake” feature is a game-changer for the usability of recipe blogs. Traditionally, a cell phone screen will sleep after a specific duration to save battery. However, when you are cooking you may be referring to the recipe several times over the course of many minutes without directly engaging with the page. It can feel enraging when you are cooking from a recipe and the screen falls asleep when you have sticky dough-fingers and can’t touch the screen, or if you lose your place in the recipe and have to scroll back through all of the content to continue cooking.

A “keep awake” feature is usually a toggle button on the recipe page that prevents your phone from going to sleep for as long as the page is open, so you never have to worry about the screen going blank.

If you’re frustrated with recipe blogs, you’re not alone. In fact, recipe creators are frustrated too! Consider paying them directly for their work, becoming a patron on Patreon, and sign up for Reciple to support a fair platform for creators with a user-focused experience.

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