Up is an idea that came about one day when I was using Yelp to see what dishes a restaurant in Montreal specialized in. After reading through 10 different novellas about how some waiter was rude and the foie gras was undercooked - I decided there has to be a better way.


My Solution

The Up concept uses gamification to keep users engaged and working towards “local foodie” status, meanwhile delivering quick answers to what’s popular at any restaurant. I like to think of this concept as a love child between Waze and Yelp.

The Approach

I began by interviewing 8 people about how they decide on where to eat and what to order. We talked a lot about different review sites and what specific features people used to make their decisions and why.

This led to some initial paper prototypes and subsequent interviews with potential users.

Up | Persona and Journey Map

The user interviews led into a persona and journey map to better visualize my target user. I used this persona to build a feature set then translate it into a full product.

Up | Paper Prototype

Before getting lost in pixels, I wanted to sketch out my idea and put into a lo-fi prototype to see if it made sense. Here's a short video walking through the prototype:

Up | First Iteration

I focused on simple interactions that would allow the user to quickly access the restaurant’s menu based on their location and limited the need to read so that you can see the highest up-voted menu items, the chef’s pick and what local foodie’s have picked.

The rating system is a simple upvote/down-vote which allows the community to regulate the most popular items. Only “Local Foodie” users would be able to write reviews initially to ensure the core interaction of seeing what is most popular in the forefront.

Click for First Iteration Prototype

Up | User Test and 2nd Iteration

I ran a key path scenario with 3 potential users and found the following insights

  • Users prefer validation from the “crowd” vs. wait staff when choosing menu items
  • CTA “try it” changed the concept entirely
  • Users like seeing the 3 sections of “top picks” on the landing page to see what’s “rare but good”

The Good:

  • Simple Design, no lengthy reviews
  • Photos, Price, Description and Votes are helpful decision levers
  • Liked ability to “grow” as a user

The Bad:

  • Copy needs to change so user doesn’t feel like they are ordering from app
  • Voting system needs to be more clear
  • Recent votes need more details

Major Changes to be made:

  • Updating CTA and copy throughout app to set better expectations
  • Providing clearer voting
  • Providing Status definitions

Click For 2nd Iteration Prototype


Up has potential!

The idea seemed to resonate well with others but I need to think through the logistics of the app before pursuing it further. Particularly if location services and notifications are the only way to primarily interact with the app, it may have trouble gaining adoption.

Yelp is the far and away most used in this space and so overcoming it will be difficult. That being said, my initial research showed a desire for a secondary food selection app.