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Case study: Rooted

Maya Benari shares her experience working with the Listings theme for a client site wanting to showcase real food recipes.

ROOTED: Real food for an active lifestyle

Hi everybody! I’m Maya Benari, a designer and web developer based in Los Angeles, California. I’ve been happily working with WooThemes for over 2 years and am so excited to share the ROOTED website with you all.

When I first saw the African Cartel site last year, I was inspired by how a complete transformation of Listings could provide positive change for South African street artists, create a fully integrated experience that showcases and promotes their art, and ultimately provide a conduit to enhance their lives. With this in mind, I thought a similar integration could work pretty well for food too!

I was approached by a verynice design studio to develop the ROOTED website into a beautiful, feature-rich showcase and search engine for healthy recipes. With the Listings theme’s powerful content builder and advanced search capabilities, I knew it would be perfect to show off these delectable culinary inspirations. It was the use of the Listings theme and the WooThemes framework that paved the way for a dynamic, user-friendly, and informative website.

The ROOTED Lifestyle

The site was created to cultivate the ROOTED lifestyle: healthy living by eating well and staying active. We wanted the site to spread healthy vibes through food that is local, organic, seasonal, and “rooted” to the environment. The goal: connect people through food.

A listings page used to showcase delicious recipes.

Founder Casey Weaver describes the ROOTED lifestyle as relying primarily on real foods that can be traced back to where they came from, whether a home garden, farmer’s market, butcher, or your local grocery store, and creating recipes from them that fuel an active lifestyle. It’s not about a particular diet or one single activity, but living consciously and breaking the mould.”

Breaking the Mold

We transformed the homepage with a bold feature panel that showcases the healthy “ROOTED” recipes. The Listings featured panel is brought to life with gorgeous edge-to-edge photographs of the latest recipe that fades to the previous recipes or blog posts. To the immediate left of the featured recipes panel are static photos that exemplify an active lifestyle. This really lets the star of the show, the food, shine. The recipe title and description excerpt are also caringly placed into a slim black rectangle slightly overlaying the featured recipe photo. A great tip: play with function.php to limit excerpt length.

The ROOTED homepage with good use of the Listings featured panel.

Since we included all-image photos on the panel, we noticed a problem with the initial loading time: the wood-textured background would show for a good couple of seconds before the image fully loaded. Changing the featured panel background to black solved this, creating a cinematic feel as the photos fade in and helping user’s eyes ease into a new culinary and eye-tantalizing photo.

Search for the Seasons

One of the most exciting elements on the site was the transformation of the search module. The search module caters to user choice, allowing individualized searches by main ingredient, type of dish, dietary consideration, and season. This allows for a huge array of possibilities, satisfying even the pickiest eater. In redesigning the search module, we listed selections on top of each other rather than side-by-side for a more focused and user-friendly experience, allowing for the ROOTED photography to stay prominent on the right. We also included the listing’s ID, but changed its title to recipe ID so people can quickly go to any recipe. By adding a recipe ID to the end of each recipe post, people can quickly find the dish they are looking for.

The ROOTED beautifully styled search module and search results.

Fun Features

Integrating MailChimp, Facebook comments to posts, the Flickr photo widget, and a simple Vimeo iframe embed was a snap and made the sidebar come to life in a fun way by allowing for a dynamic and user-integrated experience across media platforms.

More on the Way

Round 2 is going to be about building community, sharing user-submitted recipes (integrating the Gravity forms plugin), and continuing to grow the ROOTED lifestyle.

Summary / My Experience

I see WooThemes more as a tool to work with my clients than for them; a technology that lets me create the best experience, provide the most value, and achieve results with the greatest impact on the community my client is trying to reach.

My goal is to empower, give confidence to, and provide tools for my clients to succeed. By handing over a website that is easy to use and maintain, clients are thrilled by the accessibility and functionality that this new platform provides.

The blog area of the ROOTED website.

I really enjoy breaking the Woo mold and building something completely new with Woo’s stellar framework. Every project I’ve completed has been a wonderful learning experience, helping my next venture to build upon the successes of the last. WooThemes is like a pre-fab house, but one where you can move the walls, change the paint, and add appliances (i.e. plugins)… and get up and running in a very short time. The more I work with WooThemes, the more excited I am to take risks. What I’ve learned in my two years using Woo is to not be afraid to try new things & really go for it! I look forward to continue building and breaking Woo’s (beautifully crafted) molds ;).

Studio Credits: a verynice design studio. Website Development: Maya Benari.

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