Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The many faces of food on the web

We've been busy on a redesign of Locally Grown Food, a site which functions both as an information source and an auction-style clearinghouse for local food producers and buyers in southern coastal New England. Right now the site feels ridiculously retro, which isn't quite what we're going for.

Capturing all of the wow of a food in a digital image can be a challenge. That's not mentioning the different visual experiences that can be produced based on the artist's pictorial styles and motives. Food sites can seize upon the melody of our meals, appeal to our visceral hunger (i.e. food porn), or be "all the news that's fit to eat".

So, like any other modern designer with access to millions of already-made sites, we've been doing a vibe scan of what's out there to get some examples of what-we-like. There's such a neat range out there:
Too Many Chefs: photos amidst a modern Cartoon Network world
Strong Buzz: simple watercolored-esque greens
Amazon Gourmet Food: utilitarian, similar to what we have now
Trader Joe's: yesteryear-esque narrative drawings (though Annie's makes us shudder)
Domestic Goddess: high on minimalism, high on sugary food porn
Gastropoda: minimalist indeed, and very text-driven
Presentation is key not just on the dinner plate; it establishes the modus operandi for the rest of the visit to a site. Do we go for crisp photos that show just how fresh local is? Or hand-drawn folk art that appeals to the nostalgic "brand" of a farmers' market? Ah, but there is room for a little bit of both, says the postmodern pundit in me. Stay tuned.

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