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CHOW was launched in 2006 and originally began as a discussion place for those looking to find great restaurant venues. The site now features an abundance of videos, original stories, and tested recipes, as well as in-depth discussions about restaurants, cooking, and more on its Chowhound boards.
CHOW has several recipe categories to help users find exactly what they're looking for. These include Main, Dessert, Quick & Easy, DIY Projects, Soup/Salad/Sandwich, Drink, Bread, Pasta/Noodles, Breakfast/Brunch, Condiment/Sauce, Appetizer, Snack, Side Dish, and Holidays.
Users have the option of searching for recipes based on difficulty level. By using the search function in the header, users can narrow down their search results by multiple specifications, including easy, medium, and difficult recipes. Users can also enter keywords or phrases to find recipes, or click on Recipes in the top navigation to browse through all available recipes.
On CHOW's internal pages, there is a search function that allows users to find recipes by ingredient. Each of the recipes has a difficulty level. Users can click on the difficulty level on a recipe to see other recipes at the same level. Users can specify restrictions based on the following diets: vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free.
CHOW is easy to navigate. The top navigation is very simple with only three options: articles, recipes, and community. Once a user selects a recipe category, they are sent to a page with multiple recipes to choose from. All of the recipe listings have images with their accompanying name that users can click on to view the recipe. Browsing recipe listings is quick and simple due to the clean layout and photos.
CHOW has an FAQ page that answers questions about the following topics: Basics, General Etiquette, Specific Posting Guidelines, For Business Owners and Insiders, For Bloggers and Journalists, Sign Up and Account Settings, and Technical Problems. Users can also visit the Contact Us page for additional company information.
The Chowhound community is a platform to meet other food enthusiasts and find answers to cooking and food questions. CHOW also offers location-specific communities, so members can connect with other members in their nearby area.
CHOW does not feature a main category for special diets. The only way users can find recipes based on diet is through the search function in the header of the site. Once they enter a keyword, users can specifically ask for recipes that are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. This may create some confusion, as many other recipe sites feature special diet recipes in the main menu or filter options.
There are ads in CHOW's sidebar, some of which are not relevant to the content on the site. Other ads on the site may be misleading because they are designed to resemble recipe listings. This may create hassle for users that click on the ads and are taken away from the site when they instead intended to select a recipe. CHOW could improve its browsing experience by more clearly separating the ads from the main content.
While CHOW's members are able to save recipes to their profile, there aren't any additional features for shopping lists or menus that sites like EatingWell offer.
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