FoodieFun, as a product design journey, was a case study in "what happens when your research undermines your assumptions?" With an initial product brief that described something with the functionality of a "personal Yelp" and the aesthetics of a "personal Instagram", it was clear that the stakeholders for this student project envisioned FoodieFun as a documentation-first experience. Users would use FoodieFun to upload photos, review restaurants and menu items, and otherwise engage in the experience of capturing their "Food Adventures". This vision was supported by our major constraint—a team of young engineers with just a few days to build.
Over the course of researching and interviewing potential users, an emergent insight began to form—the people who are self-categorized as "Foodies" cared much more about leveraging an app for the purpose of discovery than documentation. In an age of algorithms dictating taste to users and an endless stream of suggestions to the end of "you might like...", our users wanted to curate their own discovery of places to enjoy food and drink through other people whose taste they could trust. Essentially, people wanted to use FoodieFun as a digital platform to collect restaurant recommendations from trusted peers.
Despite the stated and revealed preferences of potential users, our constraints were immovable, and our task was to build an experience focused on documentation rather than discovery, so that's precisely what we did. With that, we developed 3 guiding principles for our product.
First—Complexity is unavoidable, but should be opt-in where possible. We accomplished this through opting for text input fields in the majority of our forms to minimize engineering complexity, and giving users an optional, skippable quick-start guide after sign-up.
Second—Flexibility is our friend. There is a natural tension introduced with forms (especially those with many text input fields). We didn't want to nag our users with endless forms, so we decided to minimize the number of required fields, giving flexibility to our users and building on the principle of making complexity opt-in.
Third—Find it Fast. Our commitment to delivering an experience that is optionally complex and flexible meant a lot of room for users to leave tasks partially finished. The implication for us was that information hierarchy would be critical. We addressed this by leveraging filtering, fuzzy searching, and giving users on mobile the option between list and grid views to make finding what they're after as easy as possible.
UX Research | UX/UI Design
Oct 2019 - Nov 2019