How to jazz up recipe search engine pages with graphics?
June 4, 2011 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for design inspiration for the recipe search engine that I'm working on. Specifically, how do I jazz up the recipe pages with graphics when I cannot use the original recipe text or dish photos? It has to be something generic to food/cooking.

This is related to my recipe site. I have decided it will be a recipe search engine with a small selection of dishes. To avoid copyright issues, I've decided to only display a short description and link to the original source.
posted by Foci for Analysis to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
I think colorful images of cooking utensils and other tools used in cooking/baking/grilling would be pleasing to look at.

A random search for "free icons cooking" turned these up, which I like. I'm no designer though, so YMMV.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:44 AM on June 4, 2011

Thanks for the suggestion, SuperSquirrel!

I forgot to mention that the visual design of the site is fairly minimalistic in black, white and some red with plenty of whitespace and minimal features and info architecture.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:51 AM on June 4, 2011

Can you use stock pictures to represent the search terms used? Like, I'm imagining searching for, say, "grilled chicken quesadilla." The results or recipe page could show:

[picture of grill] + [picture of chicken] + [picture of quesadilla] = resulting recipe.
posted by that's how you get ants at 9:53 AM on June 4, 2011

interesting idea, that's how you get ants. I think Flickr has an API you can use for stuff like this, it would create more dynamic recipe pages. Will check this.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2011

One solution I've used when faced with a similar challenge is to create a site-specific graphic style that abstracts the main content - in your case, food, ingredients, hand equipment, etc. - out of being mere photographs. For example, we took almost-macro photos, converted them to a really rich black and white, and then used Photoshop's Duo- and TriTone features to render them in bright jewel tones. We used these as graphic elements rather than photographs, and the net result is the "atmosphere" of your site becomes one where these ingredients and items are a constant, but without the difficulty of closely matching the image to the content in question.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Could you possibly have people upload images of things after they make them?
posted by wayland at 10:22 AM on June 4, 2011

OneMonkeysUncle, oh, I think I get your idea. I've been thinking about something similar with slightly abstract dishes. The main challenge would be to execute it well enough so that the imagery isn't mistaken as photos of actual dishes.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2011

wayland, I thought about that but ultimately decided that I didn't want to engage users in that way. It would require lots of backend coding and I'm not sure the quality would be good enough.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2011

Two words: Creative Commons. Three licenses (Attribution, Attribution Share-Alike and Attribution No-Derivs) allow you to use photos from Flickr even on a commercial site as long as you link back to the author. You can search under specific license types and adding a field for each recipe where you add in the photo link and photographer name is not a big deal. If you're using WP for your site, there are plugins for that (or just use a custom field type if you're lazy!)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:39 AM on June 4, 2011

Speaking of flickr, what if you created a flickr group and invited users to upload their pictures to that site, making it clear that you'd like to use your favorites on your site. People love to give content away!
posted by radioamy at 12:12 PM on June 4, 2011

DarlingBri, Flickr+CC really rocks. I've used the advanced search to find nice photos for commercial work many times. If I do some kind of generic dish illustration design, I'll make sure to check CC for useful photos. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:00 PM on June 4, 2011

radioamy, that's a great idea and finally a way to use Flickr in a meaningful way for my site AND engage users.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:03 PM on June 4, 2011

Not sure why you would be prevented from using the recipe text from any site as the recipe itself (ingredient list + steps) is not copyright protected. Pictures, descriptions and other enhancements are protected. That might help with at least half your dilemma.
posted by webhund at 4:37 PM on June 4, 2011

webhund, have you got a cite for that "recipes can't be copyrighted" statement?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:34 PM on June 4, 2011

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