We’ve all faced the dilemma: where to eat, what to eat? Let’s imagine the user experience of lunchtime in Harvard Square. You’ve got the whole gamut at your fingertips: Clover, Tatte, Otto, sweetgreen, Tasty Burger. Perhaps you’re vegetarian or gluten-free, which might constrain your options. And maybe you hold certain values around seasonality and locality. You reconfigure your options. Parsnip or Harvest? Whole Heart Provisions or Wholesome Fresh? And maybe you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, and you would like to polish it off with dessert. Ben and Jerry’s or Amorino: Gelato al Naturale? Perhaps something a bit fresh and modern. Blackbird Doughnuts or Milk Bar?
Yet perhaps you’re not a student or resident, but a visitor of Harvard Square. What do the plates offered by those restaurants look like anyway? You’re simply taking a chance. It doesn’t help that you’re already 15 minutes into a google search on top of that.
Envision a gamified, viscerally visual search experience. Introducing EasyEat.
EasyEat aims to simplify the restaurant search experience by introducing a visual exploration process. You can swipe right and swipe left on dining options in your area. First, after the short process of registration, users are requested to specify their dietary and taste preferences by filtering them on the platform. On EasyEat, you’re able to specify a budget, distance, ambiance, mood, wait time, and type of cuisine within a desired range. Carnivore? Check. Enthusiast of Indian and Greek? Check. Dining on a student budget? Check. Degree of Formality? Today, let’s go with fast casual.
Then, users are presented with a series of dining options circumscribed within their preferences on which they can swipe right or left. Because we as people often eat and make judgments with our eyes, our design team created an interface modeled after that seen on Pinterest. Each restaurant card displays a medley of classic dishes offered by the restaurant to give users a general taste and impression. You can tap on each image to zoom into the plate of interest. Each selected image then displays the name of the dish as well as its price and ingredients. You can also learn more about the nutritional content of each plate of interest. Once the selection of dish is approved, you make a reservation for the restaurant within the app, as well as export that reservation to a digital calendar or share it with friends.
EasyEat also aims to digitize the physical menu to create a more visually appealing experience. The user can open the app to the choice restaurant card, swipe through 10 featured dishes, and select one to order. EasyEat provides a catered and refined list of menu options. This also gives a visual understanding of each dish beyond the text description. After their dining experience, users can leave reviews for the restaurant within the app that range from 1 to 5 stars.
We created a persona to describe the journey of an EasyEat user. Take Sarah. Sarah is a 20-year-old college student at Harvard who typically eats out on weekends. She’s not a picky eater, but particularly likes Japanese, Chinese, and Mediterranean food. She has no allergies or dietary restrictions, but doesn’t eat cilantro and avoids lactose. She enjoys the atmosphere of higher-end restaurants and cocktail bars and doesn’t mind splurging once in a while, but likes to keep meals under $20 before tax and tip. Eating out is a social activity for her, so her ideal place is fun and lively with attentive service. Some of her favorite restaurants include Fuji, Spring Shabu Shabu, Committee, and Lolita.
Previously, Sarah would search for a broad category like Japanese on Google or Yelp, and spend a lot of time looking through photos, reviews, and different options. Sometimes, she would need to filter restaurants based on allergies and dietary restrictions as well. While at the restaurant itself, she would spend a long time flipping through the menu, looking up photos online, and deciding what to order. Sarah would also observe tables at the restaurant to see what patrons were ordering, and estimate how much food to order and how big the plates were. These were further influenced by her hunger level.
With a download of EasyEat, Sarah is vastly simplifying the process of decision making. Our app helps people decide where and what to eat by embedding itself into users’ routines and learning from their past preferences, ultimately saving them time, reducing friction, and preventing decision fatigue.
EasyEat UX Journey Map
EasyEat targets several key behavioral design principles. Ultimately, the platform aims to ease the ability of choosing something to eat. When examined through BJ Fogg’s framework, EasyEat reduces the cognitive load and brain cycles involved in selecting a restaurant at which to eat. This platform eliminates the need of scrolling through Yelp and Google find a restaurant with great reviews. This can be a tiresome and time-consuming process. While such websites present an overwhelming array of options, your choice has been reduced to a more curated selection of dining options based on your previously specified tastes. On EasyEat, personalization is key. The platform allows users to filter relevant and preferred aspects of dining like budget, distance, ambiance, mood, type of cuisine, and the maximum desired wait time. You can easily circumscribe your choices to suit your wants and needs.
EasyEat also introduces a vastly simplified process that minimizes the amount of time spent looking for something to eat, especially with a group of friends. The platform attempts to gamify the process of selecting a restaurant at which to eat. Dining with friends can be a difficult experience if not everyone is on the same page diet-wise and taste-wise. However, EasyEat presents a feature in which friends can assemble in-app groups and filter options that meet each party’s specified needs. If you’re out with friends, each person can take out EasyEat and sign into a group via an invitation received within the app. When all your friends have indicated their preferences, EasyEat will allow you to swipe right or left on a series of restaurant cards circumscribed to meet everyone’s tastes. Only the most-liked options that meet each party’s dietary needs will be displayed on the app. Additionally, this sprinkles a healthy dose of social proof to help users make decisions, which is among Cialdini’s key principles of influence.
Ultimately, these factors amalgamate to ease the ability of choosing something to eat.