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Why Intuitive Search Matters for Food

Posted on 20th Jul, 2011 by Mariana Abdala
Apple Dumplings by Celine Steen

It’s easy to type words like “chicken” into any search engine and get results for chicken dishes. But oftentimes you want to discover the best thing to eat without really having to think about it at all, and it may not be one of the generic dishes you get on your typical search engine, like lemon chicken or chicken marsala. Your tastes are rarely ever generic, and what you want to eat is sometimes influenced by the weather, what’s featured in the news, or what you ate earlier in the day. Foodily’s aim is to make search a delightful exploration into the recipes that meet your needs. This is the reason why we pride ourselves on our ability to provide Intuitive Search.

What is Intuitive Search?

Google, Facebook, and Bing have been working on developing Intuitive Search for a while, and smaller guys like oSkope have aimed to develop organizational applications to help you achieve intuitive search within your collected data. Foodily takes the cake (literally, sometimes) in intuitive recipe search. One of the greatest advantages our search technology has over other sites is our ability to conceptualize food by way of colloquial words and expressions that regular people use to describe what they want.

How Foodily Delivers Intuitive Results

One of the primary reasons why we introduced Nutrition by Foodily back in May is because we wanted to take the thinking out of choosing healthy meals, and we wanted the results to seem natural. It is with the same mentality that we approach searching with words kid-friendly, healthy, and seasonal. Acting as more than just filters or tags, these search terms deliver a wide variety of related ingredients, cooking methods, and recipe styles, giving you a more exploratory search experience and leaving you with more time to cook!

Getting the Most Out of Your Search Results

Here are some examples. You’re throwing a party and a third of the people you’re inviting are vegetarian. Foodily delivers relevant recipes and accurately modifies the results according to your diet restrictions and what you don’t have on hand:

Start with vegetarian appetizers
Make them healthy
Additionally, make them low fat
No tomatoes in the kitchen? That’s okay.

In this case, the train of thought is “I want to make a vegetarian appetizer that’s healthy and I’m out of tomatoes.” Notice that you don’t just get something with the title ‘appetizer,’ instead you’ll get an assortment of dishes that are suitable as appetizers and that meet your additional criteria.

The same philosophy applies when you want to explore one specific site, but you only want to see the baking recipes, or the low fat recipes within that source:

You want to see only the baking recipes from Food & Wine
Now you only want to see what’s low fat

Compared to other recipe search engines that have generic indexes and limited sources, Foodily lets you browse through recipes within different spheres and frameworks.

Another example. Weather and the seasons play a large role in what we crave throughout the day. If it’s warm, we want a fresh fruit tart or a crisp salad. If it’s chilly, we may long for soup or a casserole. Try adding words like ‘grilled’ and ‘summer’ to your search terms:

Summer Snacks
Summer Pies
Grilled Fish Dinner

Going a step beyond other recipe search sites, Foodily conceptualizes food in the same way people think about food, which is not always by the recipe title or ingredients.

Social Search + Intuitive Search

Just about every mobile app, game, search engine, and user-generated content site has incorporated social media in some shape or form. The positive effects of social media, including cost effectiveness for advertising and marketing and the direct access to old and new users, have become very evident for countless products and companies. The perfect complement to social media optimization is intuitive search, as it gives users the ability to think about the returned results, instead of thinking on their own about how to get results. The outcome is a community-driven network of information that is influenced by the way you and your friends conceptualize things, instead of the way a piece of software does.

Each week, Foodily is creating more and more food and recipe frameworks to help you search intuitively. Check out our homepage and our search assist queries in the search bar’s drop down menu for new search ideas.

Here’s one of my favorite new searches, because sometimes I feel like baking but I don’t want to heat up my kitchen in the middle of summer. And since I love our food bloggers, I often browse with them in mind.

Enjoy your food discoveries on Foodily!

Mariana Abdala works on semantic search development at Foodily.

Food, we love you.

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