New Features!

Casserole launched in Beta at the end of May with our very first version of a full site. We have had some brilliant feedback from members so far, and are back with a few tweaks, changes and shiny new features to take Casserole to the next level of development. So without further ado, here are a few new things you will spot across the site:

About Page: In light of clarifying our message and how Casserole as a service works, we’ve revamped our About page to you a more thorough look at what Casserole is, where it came from, and how to use it best for you.

Neighbours: In our feedback, a few people mentioned how they would really like to be able to see what’s happening with Casserole, even if its not in their area – well now you can! You will notice in the there is a new section on your toolbar called Neighbours. With Neighbours you can see more easily what members are in your own area (and if you click on the Casserole icons, you can see a preview of their profiles), but you can also zoom out to see what’s happening with Casserole in areas both near and far!

Edit Profile: Huzzah! While before we had a bit of a clunky system where any changes to your profile needed to be made by us, you are now fully capable of managing your information yourself! Want to change your picture or fix your misspelt road name, not a problem.

Prices: When we launched the Beta site, we added in a function that gave cooks the option to charge a small amount for the meal they were sharing – this was met with some confusion and resistance from the Casserole community. By adding money into the mix, it seemed to muddle up our message a bit, which is the last thing we wanted to do. So, from now on, ad hoc meals shared on the site will be served up for free. For those people who decide to Pair Up (read the next section to hear more about that!), you will still have the option to charge, but for general meals shared openly on the site, those will be free across the board from now on.

Pair Up: This is a special new scheme set within Casserole for those of you looking for a more long-term, regular pairing with someone in your community. While the site is great for meals you want to offer up to the whole community, we learned through feedback that that’s not an ideal situation if you are cooking regularly for one particular person.

So, we’d like to introduce you to Pair Up – a scheme that matches a local cook and local diner and helps support a regular meal sharing arrangement between the two. These could either be a pair who met through an ad hoc meal on Casserole who wish to start sharing on a regular basis, or new Casserole members who would rather be matched with someone from the get go. Once a match is made, we will help you sort out a rough meal schedule (whether that is on a weekly or fortnightly basis), as well as whether you wish any money to be exchanged for meals (usually in the form of contributing to ingredients). After everything is set, we will send you gentle reminders before a meal is meant to be served, and ask you to let us know what you’ve cooked (more on why we want to know what you’ve cooked in the next section).

Part of the reason for Pair Up is to make sure Casserole can be used in a way that best suits you – whether its for an occasional meal or a regular schedule.

Plates: Every meal a cook serves through Casserole is a small action that can make a big difference in a diner’s life – and we want to make sure we track and celebrate those actions with what we like to call plates. For every meal you share, you will get a “plate” – this serves two purposes – 1) it helps us keep track of all the meals being served through Casserole to help measure social impact and growth and 2) it helps you mark some brilliant milestones in your involvement in Casserole. For every milestone (5, 25, 50, 75, and 100 plates – for now) you hit, Casserole will give you a celebratory token of appreciation (we’ll share more details on what those will be soon!) for being an active member of the community.

There you have it – a little tour of the shiny new things you will spot on the Casserole site today. As always, please let us know your thoughts – what you like and what you don’t – so we can keep improving Casserole.

Happy Cooking!

Feeding Back

As you may have seen, last week we did a call for feedback, asking for your first impressions of the site – what you liked and what you didn’t, and where you thought the service could be improved. After many a phone call and email with Casserole members new and old, we’ve compiled a collection of first impressions to help us move forward with Casserole’s development.

We think it’s really important to get honest feedback from our members, and to be honest with ourselves about what’s gone right, and what’s gone not so right in order to grow Casserole into a great service. With this in mind, we want to be as open as we can about our thinking, admitting our mistakes, and working together with the community to keep the service on the right track.

Now, onto the feedback! We have to thank those of you who took the time to chat to us and tell us your thoughts. Lucky for us, pretty much all of you were on a similar page – we saw a trend in things you liked, as well as a trend in things you found confusing or lacking – which means what works and what needs work at this early stage is pretty clear to us. For this first bit of feedback, we asked people about their first impressions of the site, how they found the sign-up process, what they thought was missing from the site, and what they wanted to get out of Casserole on a whole. 

We are chuffed to say that there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the look and feel of the website. People liked the design and how clean and straightforward it is (we have our incredibly talented design/development duo Jase and Ed to thank for that). Given that this was one of our key goals for this Beta site, we’re glad to see people generally think we got it right.

They found the sign-up process easy, and not too tedious – although there was some question about how much and how little information should be required (one argument being that more information helps foster more trust and community, with the other being that asking for too much information can create a barrier for people signing up).

In terms of the functionality of the site, most of the people we spoke to had yet to share a meal, so they commented mainly on more general aspects of the site. For those who aren’t currently in an area with many Casserole members, there was an overwhelming desire to be able to see a big map of all of Casserole’s activities – something visual that shows that even if there is little or no Casserole activity in your area, it is happening elsewhere! The other main comment we received is that while members are prompted to cook a meal on a regular basis, how to order a meal from a neighbour is less prominent, and there is a need for a bit more clarity on how exactly people should use the service.

When it comes to content, this is the area we received the most confusion, and definitely the space we can improve on the most. While our aim with this Beta site was to trim down our message into its simplest form, we seem to have missed out on communicating some of the most important bits of what Casserole is about. We received some initial criticism from a few people who have been along for the Casserole ride from the start – pointing out that the new website had lost sight of our social message and core value of connecting communities, and especially older people, through shared food. The launch of our website does not mean that we’ve pushed our community and social ideals to the wayside – on the contrary, with the new site enabling people to sign up and serve meals themselves, it has freed up more time for us to work more closely with older people and those offline who can benefit most from Casserole. However, our website does not currently reflect that, and it’s absolutely right that we need to make this a much larger, and clearer part of our online message (and we are already working on a new about page that expresses this!).

Another pitfall to the new site is that there is yet to be a space or option for people who want to be involved in more regular, one-to-one relationships between Cook and Diner, rather than offering up meals for anyone and everyone. We designed this Beta site in the hope that it would become a gateway into more regular involvement in the service and in creating a space where communities can come together. In its current form, it is a space for people to “give it a go” on their own terms, and in that sense, we think it’s doing alright. That being said, it has left little room for these more lasting relationships, where uploading dishes to share is an unnecessary task when the meal is already meant for a specific person.

Given this, we are looking to develop a branch of Casserole that will help foster and support these one-to-one relationships in a much more offline and light touch way, which will hopefully let those who wish to take part in Casserole in a more ad hoc way through the site, and those that wish to build individual relationships to use the service in the way that is best for them.

Your Feedback

Its been three weeks since we officially launched our Beta site, and its been a delight seeing a sprinkling of sign-ups grow across our map! Our next step is to encourage more people to cook and share on the site, as we work to develop the service further, honing it into something useful for everyone. We’ve already received some really useful feedback from a handful of members, but are looking for more, both from people who are already familiar with Casserole, as well as those who are coming to the service for the first time.

As you’ve now had a few weeks to nose around the site, we are looking for your feedback on this initial version of the site, and what you want to see happen with Casserole in the future. With this in mind, here are a few questions we are looking to answer as we develop:

What was your initial impression to the site? Was it clear was Casserole is about? Did you find it easy to get involved, search the site, etc…

How was the sign up process? Too long, too short, or just right?

If you have signed up, but haven’t served a meal yet, why not? What’s stopped you from serving a meal yet, and is there anything we can do to get you started?

What features would you like to see on Casserole in the future?

What do YOU want to get out of Casserole?

If you have a moment to answer any or all of these questions, or have anything else to say about Casserole, please get in touch in the comments below, or email us at [email protected]! We really appreciate your input in helping us create a wicked service!