Driving a global cooking phenomenon — How Cookpad uses Marvel to tackle the big risks in product design, early on

Marvel Prototyping used by CookPad
  • 100

    validation tests

    Cookpad run tests with Marvel for Product Discovery across 5 squads each week

  • 35

    countries globally

    Their design teams test with their international audiences around the world using Marvel prototypes

  • 100

    million users

    Every month Cookpad has over 100 million users visit their platform

Industry: Food Tech
Features Used: Sketch, Prototyping
Locations: UK, Japan

Cookpad, the community platform for people to share recipe ideas and cooking tips is a phenomenon in Japan where it started 21 years ago. It listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2009 and now on average 100 million people around the world use Cookpad every month. Over 4 million recipes have been created on the platform which is available in almost 70 countries in 24 languages.

Cookpad’s international HQ is based in Bristol where a growing team of designers, engineers, and product people create, manage, and build a platform that supports 100 million users a month. We spoke to their Global UX and Product Design Lead, Richard Hiscutt, about their design challenges, goals, and how Marvel is helping them reach their ambitions.

  • collaboration
  • team meetings

“We want Cookpad to bring people who are interested in cooking together,” Richard tells us. “When they ask the question, ‘What am I going to eat tonight?’, Cookpad will be front of mind and help them feel inspired, empowered and confident enough to cook.”

Cookpad’s mission is to ‘make everyday cooking fun’ because home cooking is the key to a happier and healthier life for people, communities, and the planet.

“The choices that we make shape our world, and when we cook, the choices we make have an impact on ourselves, the people we cook for, the producers we buy from, and the wider environment.”

  • iOS prototyping
  • cooking

Using Marvel to tackle the big risks in product design

Each of the product teams at Cookpad focus on a different aspect of the user’s experience. Each squad performs around 20 tests a week to reduce the big risks of product design and create an experience that makes a difference to the product that people use daily.

“When I joined Cookpad last year, one of the things I wanted to be able to do was test quickly. One of Marvel's strengths is that it constrains you to a very simple, click-through prototype. It's not about designing animations so it focuses the designer on the problem, rather than the expression of it. It makes it easier to test the value of an idea and see early on, without too much wasted effort, whether a feature idea would make a real difference to the people using it to find, cook, and share recipes.”

  • Cookpad and Marvel
  • Marvel and Cookpad

The Cookpad team use the dual-track product development process that’s evangelised by Silicon Valley executive Marty Cagan, which means that there is a great deal of testing through prototypes before a user even sees an idea. “We have a strong focus on getting Product Discovery right, with lots of experiments and learnings, moving fast in a collaborative and iterative manner, and sharing those ideas in the leanest way possible,” explains Richard. “Once we’ve proven that an idea has real value and have a version we are confident is going to make a difference then that is what gets put into production.”

Part of Richard’s role at Cookpad is to help put the discovery process in place within teams. Typically, the teams move from Design Sprints with whiteboard sketches to Marvel prototypes for higher fidelity construction. These are iterated on between the product owner and designer, then shared within the wider team, and then shared to different markets for testing with users.

“One of Marvel's strengths is that it constrains you to a very simple, click-through prototype. It's not about designing animations so it focuses the designer on the problem, rather than the expression of it.”

Having a user base that spans almost 70 countries means the product team at Cookpad need to continue to grow a platform which is universal and easy to use. “One of our biggest challenges with prototyping is putting our ideas in front of the right audiences. Our users are split across Indonesia, the Middle East, Europe, India, Latin America… which means having a prototyping solution that is quick and easy to adjust is very important.”

“We have Community Teams in many countries. So, when we want to test an idea for value or usability, we will share that Marvel prototype with a local team who will visit their users in their homes, run through the prototype and film it for us. This way we can understand very quickly what's happening, and we can iterate, and then go again.”

  • Cookpad and Marvel
  • iOS and desktop prototyping

“Around 80% of our prototypes in Marvel are just between the designer and the product owner, they’re very quick iterations and then put into test. It’s made very simple with the automated flow from Sketch into Marvel.”

Using Marvel with Sketch

Recently, the team have been working on improving the search experience across the whole product to make it even easier to find the best recipe at the right time. One of their designers, Garrett Groszko, has been pulling together a number of tests with the team in Jakarta who are running Design Sprints in the day and testing ideas in the evenings.

Cookpad’s dashboard of projects can often just be thoughts, where images of paper sketches are shared for feedback. “While there are more convoluted ones we’ve found that if we’re trying to create this incredibly complicated customer flow, in the end the experiment is set up wrong and we’ve tried to test too much at once.”

To keep up with the number of user tests they run weekly, Cookpad needed a design platform which could support their speed and help focus the designers on the problem at hand. The simplicity of use is why Cookpad chose Marvel over other tools, Richard tells us: “We use the Sketch integration primarily, which syncs with Marvel and instantly updates as we need to. It takes no time at all.”

  • mobile prototyping
  • “We use the Sketch integration primarily, which syncs with Marvel and instantly updates as we need to. It takes no time at all.”

Having the growth mentality of a startup, but the roots of an already successful business model has its challenges. “We need to move fast. We want to learn fast,” says Richard. “We're not saying that we're going to solve all of the world's problems, but we can make a massive difference.”

Make design your company's competitive edge.
Discover Marvel Enterprise