Planning for next releases

On Monday, we had a Google Hangout-powered meeting with prof. Duval. The main topic was the planning for the next releases. With only 4 weeks to go to the study period before the June exams (commonly referred to as “den blok”), the professor advised us to focus our efforts and make sure we get enough feedback from real users. We also look into how we can get real users to use our app for real cooking parties, so we can make relevant evaluations.

Planning

One suggestion was to not implement a whole fridge management system, but to let the invitees choose which ingredients they want to bring (given a list of necessary ingredients for the dish). This seems simpler at first, but it raises a difficult problem: when inviting the host doesn’t know who has necessary ingredients and who doesn’t. Every additional invitee comes with the risk of not having enough of a certain ingredient to cook for everybody in the party. On the other hand, we think that the implementation is still quite similar to fridge management: users will still need to enter their fridge contents, but they would do it when they receive an invite as opposed to doing it beforehand.

We decided that we’d still implement the original fridge management. This way, we can provide the party host with information about the fridges of candidates and sort them (candidates with many missing ingredients in their fridge are shown first). This would allow him to make a more elaborate choice on who to invite.

This allows us to stick to the previous plan with two releases:

  1. fridge management and refinement of party planning
  2. dishes and the ability to find partners based on the ingredients in their fridges

We plan to do the second release on May 11th and the third on May 25th. During “den blok” we will analyze the feedback of the third release, but we will probably stop making new releases then.

Getting ‘real’ usage

A major problem with evaluating our project is that the main use case requires quite some effort from the user(s). In contrast to most mobile apps and games where you don’t really need to do anything special while using the app, we want our users to actually cook together. We expect users to use our app to create and organize a party in order to actually come together at the picked time and actually make food. This is not something you can or want to do everyday, as opposed to a ordinary mobile game which you can play anywhere anytime independent from the real-life context. This makes it particularly difficult to evaluate real users using our app in real situations, simply because those situations will be rare.

Therefore, we need to motivate users to actually use our app for its intended purpose: cooking together with friends. We have some ideas:

  • Price rewards. We could ask our users to send us some proof (pictures) of them doing a cooking party after they planned it using our app. We could reward them with some prices such as film tickets. Or perhaps discounts for groceries stores, so they can buy ingredients for the next party? 😛
  • Another possibility is to organize a contest: the cooking party with the most partners wins. Of course we will need proof of this as well.

We really need your input on this! What would motivate you to organize a cooking party? Leave a comment! 🙂

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10 comments

  1. I still believe that you try to put too much functionality in the next release. Thus, you cannot get user feedback for the next 9 days… As you mention, there is a serious risk that you will have very few realistic test users. I think you should focus more on overcoming that problem than on adding functionality at this stage…

    1. We still need the functionality, otherwise there is nothing to realistically test. Given that we need testing time as well, the conclusion would be that we simply have to work faster. We might try to aim for a Wednesday release, depending on how much time other projects will consume.

  2. I agree with prof. Duval that you need to focus on getting enough real test users and less on functionality. I still don’t get for example why that fridge management is necessary?

    For getting real test users: I think it’s great to make some kind of contest between users, a prize like cinema tickets is good enough for this. But it will be very important to inform enough users about your app! Good luck! 😉

    1. Without fridge management people would have to declare what ingredients they can bring once they are invited. This would be a problem for the host because he can’t know who to invite to have all the ingredients. Sure, he can just guess, but every wrong guess can lead to an extra mouth to feed (or he has to tell people they can’t come because they can’t bring anything, which is socially awkward).

      1. It would be great if you could do an evaluation that demonstrates the need for fridge management before you actually implement it. Of course, that evaluation could also demonstrate that fridge management is not the first priority…

      2. We see two options to demonstrate this:

        1. Implement an alternative way of handling ingredients for a party. As said in the post, this introduces other problems and may be even more work than implementing fridge management.
        2. Ask the audience, but if we remember correctly this was not advised as directly posing the question to the audience might lead to skewed results.
  3. But if you can’t ask the audience, how do you find out what they want or need?
    To motivate a cooking party, you can give away a voucher of a shop that has to do with cooking supplies, for example Kookhuys Mafrans.

  4. Asking people is not a good idea – I agree. I think I would offer a version of the app that does not include anything related to ingredients at all: it would basically allow people to eat together and they would figure out ad hoc what to prepare, based on what everybody brings to the table. If people then make it clear that this doesn’t work very well because the ingredients don’t match very well, then a fridge management system or another way to indicate ingredients you can bring could be a solution. But maybe that problem doesn’t exist? Or maybe there are other, more important problems to solve first?

    In any case, make sure you avoid ‘analysis paralysis’: decide what you will do, make sure you can explain why and then go do it 😉 !

    1. Don’t worry, no analysis paralysis (oh that rhymes so good :p ) here; we’re finalizing the second release as we speak! This new release includes a fridge management system that is not in any way linked to the party yet.

      What you describe is roughly the first version of the app: just choose time slots together (a more limited version of Doodle really), and then cook “dinner” in the host’s kitchen.

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