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Book Your Chef

A service design project to help cooks

with their part time services


This project was a college assignment for the course service design, with the primary objective of creating a unique service for a specific problem.

As mentioned, the main goal of the project was to create a unique service based on its selling points as well as the problem it would address. Personally I would think it is an exercise to push people out of their comfort zone and explore new possibilities of services, which seems to be a very effective method of creating successful services as it has the potential to have its own unique customer base and depending on the idea it could potentially grow even faster than a service with loads of competition.

To start the project off, it was necessary for me to decide on a problem area and the kind of services I could offer to solve the problems. To lay a base for ideating I decided to make a list of how the needs of services arise, and also how certain services start growing with certain trends to have an idea of what a unique service could offer while still being viable in the market.

Problem Area

There are a huge amount of part-time cooks that provide a variety of services based on their limitations, to help them increase the number of customers without the need to invest into expanding their services is the objective.

Selecting this problem area was very much dependent on the fact that I had quite a few people to collect insights from, and had personally observed issues with several people that provide such part-time services. The problem area is out in plain sight and yet there's not a huge amount of capitalization on the opportunity, which led me to think it would be a fun challenge to dive right in, to design for the people providing these services.

As expected of the work from a designer, most people would not simply approve of a biased choice. Well, I'll have to say that I sure didn't let your hopes down because to select from a wide range of choices that I listed down, quite a few were not as unique as I thought they would be, simply based on the fact that even though they were also the choice of other classmates of mine engaging in the assignment on our own. After listing down the select few that I believed to be viable choices, quite a few people thought that the project had a huge scope based on the factor that it is a service that already has a customer base and yet no one to compete at the price range it could provide on. Finally discussing the shortlisted options with our professor, he agreed on the fact that it has great potential as a marketable sector and that the thinking required for the project would be a good example to learn service design apart from the basic examples of searching for customer needs.

Now, if the customer needs are already identified and the services already exist, then one would think "why hasn't anyone capitalized on this yet?". The reason isn't the scale of the market or even the amount of potential users, the problem lies with the people providing services themselves. "How?" You may ask, well simply because of how limiting and unrelieable these services can be. Any way we look at it, in terms of delivery speed, food quality, range of choices, and so on, we cannot expect individuals using their private kitchens to perform better than restaurants and fast food chains. The challenge lies in designing the service in a way that the cooks can build up their reputation, offer unique services, and have freedom to operate in a way that they can manage.

For the research i looked up some blogs from people that wrote online to get a few questions going, and then with some perspective I interviewed people around my residence with the help of my mother to get some of their time for talking about what kind of service and they provide and the everyday problems they face with customers and about what kind of people are their usual customers. With that said i was fortunate enough to also talk to a few maids that prepare meals in different houses and about their schedules and troubles finding work at times,etc. This gave me tons of insights and the scope felt widened with every phone call, the people were very initiative with their suggestions and really wanted to share ways they thought their services could reach more people.

Artboard 1-100asd.jpg


This is the part where I explain my thought process and journey that led me to my conclusions, alongside with a few hiccups that I faced along the way.

After identifying the problem area and defining the main objective, I created some personas and wrote down a list of problems I found from the interviews, sorted them out into things I could solve with and without investment. While sorting out the suggestions into viable ones, some that could be viable later and the rest that didn't seem very viable or effective for the bottom of my list. 

After creating a few strategy plans and ways of operation, some select few friends decided to review what we thought about each other's service plans to critique them for viable ideas and getting some fresh perspective which would not be filled with the same bias, sort of trying to simulate how an investor may ask questions and just trying to brush off the ideas that were too vague or didn't seem viable enough after the discussion. 

The discussion made it pretty clear that most people were more focused on options that were the simplest solutions to generating a service rather than solving several minute solutions which backed up my point of view enough to go through with reducing the priority of a lot of problems. This made the objectives much more clearer as people first and foremost want others to bring in and manage customers on the financial level which still being able to maintain direct customer trust in their service. Simple enough that creating an app for the delivery or hiring itself is the solution to it so no need to poke around further given the time. 

The bigger problem was how to manage such a variety of services? To tackle this situation I decided on a straight forward approach that would allow the customers to search what they need while also promoting the other options they could have. To do this I sorted out the services into basic types to create different subsections to the application.

Even after creating these subsections, the service range felt really wide, but now the objective was clear as day and it was time to finalize what the service would do and what would be its selling point. Skipping the tedious explanations about writing more ideas, the final app name that I chose was "Book Your Chef" which seems like the most obvious and inspired choice since it was one of my very first thoughts and somehow it seemed to fit better than all I could think at the moment.

By saying that the name "Book Your Chef" fits the best, I want to say that it is the name that would fit most of the services offered by the app, while also making it clear that there are different things a customer can make a booking for, such as a house party catering, a regular meal, cooking classes, and so one.

Before creating the final concept, I wrote down all the points to include or avoid in the while designing the blueprint and the interface, points such as objectives of the service, segregation of services, design principles to check, common mistakes made, etc. to help me make sure I can avoid getting distracted from the objective and keep my thoughts focused on designing rather than focusing on what to work on next.

wireframesArtboard 1.png


Creating wireframes and architecture for the app that follow the proper visual hierarchy and visual order, along with the proper service procedure before moving into the final visual scheme.

Final Concept

For the finalization of the project, creating an application architecture and plan of action is the next step, now that the objective has been set. To depict a portion of the service idea, I also created a mock-up on Adobe XD.

Following the list of objectives, I created a simple architecture for the users to navigate through the service, but to make it on time for the dates I had to start with the interface asap. To make sure I had everything in place I had a quick discussion with our professor and he asked me to show the concept and not worry about going too deep down into the interface design, so as to focus on the subject topic more.

To focus on the service I tried picking a few colours based on the theme of food and decided that a graphic background for the initial screens would be a great idea to have the users interested. Decided to have red and white as the 2 colours to work with and manipulate the rest using red filters and shadows. I made different aspects of the service such as the load-in screen and images as background, putting a filter on them to create enough contrast.

Finally, I recreated an illustration and used text to create a quick logo as I planned and started with my mock-up in Adobe XD. I used shape transformations and voice commands etc as well to test out the new features on XD and tried to build a simplistic UI only to show the concept of the service itself and what will be the features to the service, such as making a reservation for an amateur cook for meal preparations, of setting orders for a meal, or even booking catering for small parties, etc. 

byc ui parralex.png

Mockup screens

To present the idea of the service, I created the mockup on adobe XD to exhibit the flow of the ordering process and interrelation of the features in the service.


To summarize everything in a short brief, let's focus on the process of the design and the things that lead me to this service idea and application design.
(Do feel free to skip if you have read the entire project)

The project mainly focused on service design while having long classes and objectives to achieve each day thus it was important to plan out the objectives right away. Our main assignment was to think of a unique service idea by identifying a problem area, and for various reasons, I decided to dive into the amateur cooking sector.

To conduct the base research I read blogs from people that offer cooking services from home and interviewed acquaintances and maids using the questions I found from the desk research. Most problems were the management of timings, investments and so on, and were something that cannot be invested on by a company. The interesting part was that people really wanted someone to manage clients and the payments, some answered they wanted to get more clients and know if they could raise the price of their services. Knowing a lot of these people helped me gain inside information on their earnings and number of customers, etc, which led me to believe that helping them have a platform to compare and offer their services was the best option after brainstorming with my friends and a convincing conversation with the professor who gave us the assignment.

Knowing about something's potential is great but the number of issues in utilizing it can be problematic, but considering this opportunity area has not been utilized even after it being in plain sight, I already knew that it was going to be a challenge and a great experience to learn by practice. Thus, after the research and sorting out the responses and making inferences, I concluded numerous different views and points to review the situation and the overall situation of the different types of people and services that they provide and tried to use them to create a few possible service ideas ranging from a community application to food delivery, while the idea of making reservations for chefs and selling home-cooked meals was not used in India. Catering services and professional chefs work on a larger scale and are not always viable for several occasions while people with exceptional cooking skills can be found time to time from amateurs, To allow these amateurs to undercut prices and build up reputation would be the best course for them to gain more customers. To allow this we need to focus on allowing them to raise their individual ratings and also market the points that would make this service a preference over other food delivery services.

With the objectives of the service in place, I started with the architecture of the application while keeping it simple to showcase the idea of the service. After finalizing the name "book your chef" and creating a logo, I started the prototyping on Adobe XD, with the screen dimensions of an iPhone with red and white as the 2 colours for the design. The name of the service conveys both the unique aspects as well as the similar features which catch attention and utilize the uniqueness of the idea. This allows us to collectively represent several services provided by the application and thus achieving the objective of the service.



Here are a few points that I found very helpful as a new experience and how they affected my growth as a designer.

This was my very first service design project and a very unique one as we found the problem sectors ourselves and in the process of trying to find something new, we explored a lot of different possibilities and taking on the challenge of a service sector that had not been utilized before made me understand first hand about the difficulties, the dead ends and made me realize what I could do better to design a service as the project moved forward. It was a project that allowed me to take the problems on and design for them to understand what could go wrong with a service instead of designing something safe and simple just to assure success in the market.

I believe that experience is crucial to be aware of the broad scope of service design projects and how much detail could get ignored simply because of lack of experience. Making the application mock-up was a great experience and I also learned about the effort to detail that goes into building an interface with all the visual and architectural aspects, and the time it takes to finalize concepts, allowing me to plan better for the projects to come.

The guidance of our professor helped me gain the perspective of a designer working on a real project and not an assignment, as he treated the project as a genuinely marketable idea and not just some hypothetical concept for college submission. My approach towards the solutions and the midset was much clearer after I had the interests of the company in mind and was able to back my decisions up more firmly.

Last but not the least, researching by empathy and desk research was a great exercise for user experience but interviewing people regarding several different services and trying to understand their view was very helpful for me to understand how even seemingly similar samples can also be very different based on their circumstances and mentality, affecting the very choices that led me to my conclusion and the effort felt worth it since it helped make me a better user experience designer.

Thanks for visiting, feel free

to learn a bit more about  my background and skills here

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