Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Presentation Matters - Web Products

I previously had written about the layout of a site really mattering particularly when you're in the productivity-esque field. I am finding this to be absolutely true and perhaps the first concept that those preparing productivity services/sites should consider even ahead of whatever their content is.

This was brought up again because I was wanting to find a meal planner that provided the whole week's meals along with a single shopping list.

The first one I found, e-Mealz , was pretty and looked like it could possibly work. However, it didn't seem very concerned about meal preparation time and the way they tell you to modify the plan if you don't like one of the meals is to just eliminate it from the shopping list. It doesn't provide any way to drop in one of your family's favorite meals from another week or any other way to customize the meals. They are one-size-fits-all. A potential plus is that they have plans based on the sales at various grocery stores each week. However, none of the store options exist near our house, so this wasn't a boost for me. If they added Randalls, HEB, Whole Foods or Sun Horizon, I might be more interested.

I went ahead and printed out a couple sample meals and will try them, but I was not at all convinced that this site was the right one for me. It packs the whole week's menus onto one page of paper which requires them sacrificing some of the detail and help that I think I'd appreciate having as a not particularly experienced chef.

So, the site was pretty and clean and made me want to love them, but the content just wasn't what I was looking for.

I then found This looks like a better fit for us as it has explicit references to all meals taking short periods of time and it includes information that tells you what recipes can be cut in half (four of the five from this week) and ideas about how to use the leftovers. As these mealplans have 4-6 servings in mind and we only have 3 people, this is a definite plus. From an initial evaluation, this site looks like it really could be the system that I'm looking for. And, you're able to add in other meals, remove meals you don't like and even include more meals than then normal 5 if you need to for a week.

However, thescramble's site makes me unhappy. It feels cluttered and messy and even overwhelming. And since you have to interact with the site to customize your plans, I'd have to keep seeing it. A definite negative.

My decision?

I decided to print out sample menus for each program and will try them both. Then I'll evaluate the options available at each site, my feelings about the site itself with my reflections on the difficulty and time requirements of the sample menus as well as how the food tastes and if one seems to fit our tastes better than the other.

I'm sure there are other sites providing similar services, and I would love to look at them as well before I make a commitment and hand over money to one company or another, so if you know of a similar company, let me know.

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