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How Cloud City and Breadwinner Helped People Bake Bread Together

At a time when many felt starved for connection, Cloud City helped Breadwinner create a community for bakers.

  • UI/UX
  • Software Development
  • IoT

The Challenge

Go beyond the basics: Create a web app suited to Breadwinner’s goals

Breadwinner founder Fred Benenson reached out to Cloud City in 2020 about his idea for a sourdough starter tracker and social platform for bakers.

One of Fred’s hobbies is raising sourdough starters. In fact, Fred had already coded an unstyled dashboard to assist his own baking process.

While the initial dashboard functioned for keeping tabs on temperature and height, Fred had more ambitious goals for the project. As Fred watched the rise of a pastime he enjoyed during the COVID-19 shutdown, he spotted an opportunity to nurture community during an otherwise lonely time.

“During those dark months, it felt so good to create something we could share with others,” says Cloud City Principal Designer Brendan Miller.

Our goal was to collaborate with Breadwinner to create a user-friendly website where anyone could track their starters — and feel connected with fellow bakers in the process.

“If you’ve raised a sourdough starter, you know they’re finicky creatures,” says Brendan, who has also tried baking bread. “Lots of little things can go wrong.”

Breadwinner’s device is a gamechanger for raising starters. It sends notifications and turns green when the sourdough reaches its peak, removing guesswork from the process. It also lets bakers know when their starters get too hot or cold.

Combining this helpful appliance with a social platform, Fred’s vision for Breadwinner would equip people with the tools to become better bakers and participate in a shared experience.

To help develop a website for Breadwinner beyond the original dashboard and add new features to support social networking, Fred turned to Cloud City.

The Solution

Pair flair and function: Develop retro-inspired design, lean UX and social networking features

Cloud City’s team of designers and engineers know how to deliver on the technical side of user experience, design and fast-loading web applications. But we also realize the right product has to be in tune with the client’s unique needs.

To ensure the user interface design and graphics would match Breadwinner’s retro brand identity, Brendan applied soft skills to work closely with Breadwinner’s team.

While brand designer Elizabeth Goodspeed worked with Breadwinner to create a design system library, Brendan worked in parallel to implement it on the web. He conducted a UX competitive analysis of other data gamification sites like Strava and creative social media networks like Ravelry. The mission was to cultivate a design that still felt modern with touches of retro weaved throughout.

“Usually with social media, a retro feel is pretty rare,” says Brendan. “We needed to create a design system that felt classic, but was still familiar enough for modern web users.”

Cloud City Senior Developer Sid Krishnan worked in concert with Breadwinner’s product team to expand upon the initial dashboard’s features. Together, they ensured the new platform would pair seamlessly with the sourdough-tracking device.

In addition to showing how much the starter had risen with a line chart in a 24-hour period, for example, Sid generated bar charts that helped breadmakers chart their starters’ progress over longer periods of time. Sid’s code allowed the data to be displayed with more digestible (no pun intended) and engaging visuals.

With Sid’s software development expertise, Cloud City also brought to fruition Breadwinner’s social media features.

The Outcome

The rise of a baking social network (and many sourdough starters!)

Before Breadwinner, many who had taken up baking during the pandemic shared their photos on social media. But bakers’ creations were mixed in with all sorts of other images: selfies, sunsets, family photos, the whole shebang.

“What if you just wanted to look at bread and get inspired?” asks Brendan.

Now, Breadwinner is a full-fledged social network where users can share their sourdough pictures as well as ratings on taste, crust and crumb. They can also add notes about what went right and what didn’t. The site also features a curated search engine to explore recipes.

“Breadwinner is only for bread pics,” says Brendan. “It’s designed to foster a tight community of aspiring and pro bakers.”

Cloud City has extensive experience working alongside clients to design and develop products from start to finish. We employed this expertise to help Breadwinner’s team create an all-in-one platform where anyone from novice to expert can explore and celebrate their passion for bread.

Partner with Cloud City

Internal projects can be far more complicated than anticipated, even for software companies. By bringing Cloud City into the picture, our clients are able to complete critical projects and benefit from our partnership. Cloud City is a human-centered, empathetic software development team, invested in our clients' long-term health.

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