When I came across Giada De Laurentis’s latest app, Giada: A Digital Weekly, I was intrigued. A weekly magazine for the iPad—how come no one else in the food scene is doing this? It seems like a fantastic idea, because we all want information in smaller and smaller bites these days. I hold onto digital issues of my favorite magazines, waiting until I have the time to sit down and savor all the stories, recipes and tips (this can take an hour or more). The idea of receiving smaller magazine issues more often sounded appealing. I envisioned reading through a brief foodie zine during those moments sitting on a bus, waiting at the doctor’s office or eating my lunch. It would be nice to have a quick look and come away with a couple of good ideas to inspire that night’s supper or my next weekend getaway destination.
Does the innovative Giada: A Digital Weekly offer subscribers enough to stay interested? Keep reading to find out.
I like the way Random House (an old-media publishing company) has embraced the mobile platform. I like them because they understand the most important thing is storytelling, and all their apps seem to perfectly capture the featured storyteller, for example, Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Giada in her other app, Giada at Home, which I reviewed earlier this year. Random House doesn’t just slap together one-dimensional pages from a book and call it an app. They take inspiration from the material and design a mobile experience.
I also like how Giada: A Digital Weekly has released a new issue every Thursday since the inaugural issue in August of 2013. You can count on it, like clockwork, and it’s nice to see that kind of commitment. I can’t think of another weekly digital food magazine, so Random House has certainly found it’s own niche here. I’d like to see it become a trend.
Each issue has a theme, some more interesting and creative than others. I was especially drawn to the Pamper Yourself, Hollywood and Potluck issues. Browsing the covers in the store, I found the branding perfectly Giada from head to toe, as classy and luxurious as her sets on TV. I decided to subscribe for $2.99 per month (75 cents an issue). The app will auto-renew my subscription unless I cancel, which I think is convenient.
Random House promises, “In each issue, you’ll get to know the real Giada, unfiltered and behind the scenes,” and they create this feeling by using a mix of professional photos and point and shoot pics taken by Giada’s friends and family. I’m normally not a fan of mixing the two, but it works here (thanks to attractive app design). It’s good to see Giada sticks to what she’s known for in the material (recipes, travel, fashion and beauty), and everything seems to have her own personal touch.
The Weekly Issues
Every issue begins with a dynamic table of contents, displaying every article in a bird’s eye view. The food looks delicious, the parties look fun and I’m always excited to dive into the content. It’s nice to be able to tap on any photo and jump straight to the articles I’m interested in. The app is aimed at working moms and has several recurring themes: entertaining friends and family with ease, fashion and beauty inspiration, healthy living and G’s Hotlist of favorites.
Articles are thoughtfully written by Giada (or her close family and friends). The writing style is very authentic and relatable, as if she were your best girl friend. The main difference between this and your typical magazine is the amount of recipes. For example, the potluck piece, “Hot Dish,” in Issue 7 shares three recipes: Bobby Flay’s Deviled Eggs with Smoked Trout, Ina Garten’s Orzo with Roasted Vegetables and Brian Boitano’s Spicy Coffee Brownies.
On average, each issue contains about 5 recipes. The most common complaint in iTunes is that users want more content and recipes, but this is a weekly digest and just meant to be a taste that leaves us wanting more. One of the most clever features of the app is that no matter what issue I’m currently reading, I can always see all recipes from every issue in one place, including recipes I’ve favorited. Very handy! The search tool is also very thoughtfully designed, allowing search across all issues for recipes and stories.
Cooking With Giada
It’s nice to see that Random House Digital has put a lot of thought into the user experience when it comes to cooking with the app. View the recipe on one screen or rotate to a landscape view to enter “cook mode.” This increases the font size so it’s easier to read from far away and displays ingredient quantities with each step.
It would be great to see hands-free navigation when in “cook mode” using voice commands like “next” (which other apps offer). I’m glad that Giada makes it easy to share the full recipes via Email, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. One thing that would take this app over the top is a video clip of Giada in the kitchen.
Giada: A Digital Weekly is a fun, entertaining publication that Giada fans will look forward to receiving every Thursday. It’s simple and light, perfect for a quick break during the day. The app features Giada’s favorite products peppered throughout beauty and lifestyle articles (and the ability to tap and purchase them). Some may find this helpful and others may feel it’s a thinly veiled advertisement. It’s great to see Giada engaging with her fans throughout the app, asking them to engage with her on social media and offering prizes to contributors. Random House and Giada De Laurentis have created a beautifully designed app with with meaningful content. Adding video and more interactive design features would really push the user experience to the top. If you’re not a Giada fan, you won’t be interested in her favorite lipstick or most recent vacation in Bora Bora. If you are a Giada fan, you’ll enjoy the glimpse into her daily life and cooking tips.