Examining the Structure of the Minimalist Baker Blog

Examining the Structure of the Minimalist Baker Blog
Home page of the Minimalist Baker blog that features simple recipes that meet certain diet preferences.

The Minimalist Baker is a food blog that I have returned to over several years for delicious yet simple recipes. The blog offers recipes that meet simple category requirements and cater to special diets. The blog's purpose is to connect users with recipes that match their dietary requirements, ingredients list, the current season, and other needs.  

After examining the Minimalist Baker blog's information architecture, or how the content is organized, I discovered that the site is relatively straightforward. Most of the content focuses on available recipes. The category filters, dietary icons, and a visual search bar all help make this a user-centered blog.  

The Minimalist Baker uses a robust filter to help users narrow down recipes that meet their needs and restrictions.

Organized by Recipe Categories  

The creators organized Minimalist Baker around the blog's purpose: making their recipes available to readers. The main page immediately shares recipes with users and has different recipe sections. Most links on the main page lead to individual recipe pages or the all-recipes page, which includes every recipe on the blog.  

The recipe index located on the all-recipe page has a very detailed filtering system that allows a user to find recipes based on a special diet, simple factor, ingredient, and other filter categories. If a user wanted a fall soup recipe that did not use refined sugars, applying those filters would show seventy-one recipes out of over a thousand included on the site. A user can also make multiple selections in each category.   

While the inclusion of different types of filters helps with narrowing down recipes, the ability to exclude a category would be beneficial as well. This exclusion would especially be effective for the ingredients. If a user wishes to explore vegan recipes but does not eat tofu, excluding recipes with tofu from the populated list would be helpful since it would remove recipes the user will not make.  

The Minimalist Baker uses easily identifiable icons so users know if a recipe meets their dietary preferences.

Icons Used for Labeling  

The Minimalist Baker caters to five dietary preferences: gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and naturally sweetened. The blog uses a simple visual labeling system composed of a circle with initials of the dietary preference. If a recipe meets a requirement, the icon is displayed close to the recipe title. 

The colorful icons are a quick visual guide for users browsing recipes. There is also an icon key for the labels on most pages, including every individual recipe page. Since users may have been directed to the site from a social media post of a recipe, the key being on every page is beneficial since users will not have to search for the icons’ meanings. The icons are also linked back to the all-recipe page with that specific diet category selected. 

Every recipe that meets certain dietary needs has a icon located under the recipe name, allowing users to identify recipes that fit their needs.

Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville, and Jorge Aragno write in Information Architecture for the Web and Beyond that users are people with needs, and websites should cater to those different needs and “information-seeking behaviors.” It was clear that the creators of the Minimalist Baker blog understood that their users would most likely have dietary requirements and organized content so that a user could search for recipes that meet specific needs.  

The navigation for the site is very straightforward. Almost all links in the blog either connect to a specific recipe or the all-recipe page. There is also a main navigation at the top of every blog page that includes three links on the left that connect to the all-recipe page and three links on the right that lead to more information about the blog, a shop for ingredients and equipment, and a resource page for anyone wanting to create a blog. 

There are plenty of opportunities on the main page for selecting the all-recipe page; however, this is not the case on the individual recipe pages. The blog entries are long with several photos, details, the entire recipe, and comments, and the only links back to the main page or all-recipe page are at the top and bottom. A sticky navigation bar or some other form of menu that stays in place as the user scrolls down would allow the user to navigate elsewhere in the middle of scrolling.  

Photographs of the dishes are included in the search bar, aiding users searching for specific recipes.

If the user wants to find a specific recipe quicker than the filtering system would allow, the Minimalist Baker blog also has a search bar. The search bar provides not only recipe names but also photographs of the dishes. Clicking “Show All” below the possible recipes leads to a search page that includes categories from the filtering system.

The search results do not include the icon labels, which could help the user visually narrow down recipes as they search for a specific one. However, including the photograph of the dish does greatly help with that process.  

The search feature in Minimalist Baker allows users to search faster for specific recipes, but does not include the dietary icons.

Applying Information Architecture to Website  

While I do not currently have a blog on my personal website, it is something that would be beneficial to my discourse community. In a previous blog post about creating content for a higher education marketing team, I discussed the possibility of adding case studies to my personal website. There are several methodologies that the Minimalist Baker used that I could apply to a blog for case studies.   

As creatives, including a visual representation of the project the case study is about in the search bar would help users quickly find what they need. Including a labeling system that incorporates icons would allow users to narrow down what type of content they are looking for as a reference. Using detailed metadata and a labeling system would also allow users to search for case studies that relate to what they are currently designing.   

Brian Carroll writes in Writing for Digital Media that the purpose of information architecture is to create a hierarchy of the document’s content, which is determined by how information connects. Implementing a detailed labeling system that is user-centered would help me structure a blog for the user. 

Kimberly Myers

Kimberly Myers

A graphic designer in higher education specializing in print design working towards a master’s degree in technical and professional writing to produce user-friendly content and designs.
Carrollton, Georgia