Friends Feed

Friends Feed app allows you to narrow down restaurants to only those reviewed by the friends, family and top bloggers that you choose to follow. You don’t know if you can trust a review posted by a stranger, but you can definitely trust one posted by your friend.

Product Experience

Problem Space 

We’ve all been through the pain of having to figure out where to go eat. It can be a daunting and time consuming task due to the overwhelming amount of options. 

In a California-based study, researchers found that the number of options presented to individuals influenced their decision-making behavior. Contrary to the common assumption that more choices lead to increased satisfaction, the study revealed that while more people were attracted to a table with a greater variety of jam options, they were less likely to make a purchase. In stark contrast, the table with fewer options saw customers making purchases at a rate ten times higher (Velasco, 2018). This pattern reflects the phenomenon of diminishing returns as the abundance of choices may initially appear rewarding but eventually plateaus.

Extending this concept to the realm of restaurant decision-making, the process involves navigating through numerous food options, scrutinizing reviews and images. Our research, conducted among users who dine out between 4 to 12 times a month, unveiled that individuals spend 15 to 30 minutes per restaurant decision making process. This translates to a monthly time investment ranging from 1 to 6 hours.

This decision-making process becomes particularly stressful when selecting a restaurant for special occasions or when dealing with individuals who express indifference to specific choices. Existing resources such as food blogs and generic restaurant reviews, rather than aiding in decision-making, tend to offer generalized recommendations that may not align with individual preferences. These factors collectively contribute to a potential decline in the overall dining experience, diverting the focus from the enjoyment of food to the stress of decision-making.

Research Insights

To understand our users’ pain points when selecting a restaurant, we conducted 20 user interviews. The goals of the interviews were to understand how users’ felt during the decision making process, what made it a stressful situation and what could have alleviated their pain. 

85% of people noted overwhelming options

  • Unsure of which restaurants has food they will enjoy
  • Not knowing what type of cuisine they’re in the mood for 
  • Unfamiliar with the restaurants in the area

100% of people spoke on stress from opinions of others

  • Special occasions can add additional pressure into finding a good restaurant
  • Large groups have varying opinions 

75% of people noted the large amount of time spent 

  • Time wasted searching through endless options
  • Could be using the time for other activities
  • Preventing people from eating sooner

Through research of our own, when asked our users what type of criterias can sway their decision making process, 90% of them mentioned word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends.


After understanding our users’ pain points, we came to the understanding that it was a stressful situation to decide on where to eat for multiple reasons, so users need assistance narrowing their options. 

The hypothesis is that if users had recommendations from friends or people that they trust, it would strongly influence their decision in choosing a restaurant, leading to a shorter and less stressful time deciding.

The Friends Feed app is a food social media app, created to narrow the options shown to only restaurants reviewed by people they follow, such as friends and food bloggers, creating less but more valuable restaurant options.

Main Features:

  1. Friends’ reviews and ratings
  • View the restaurants that your friends have rated in your current area
  • Did they like it? What dishes do they recommend? What was the ambiance like? 
  1. Customized recommendations to the individual users
  • Options can be narrowed when you know you have the same food preferences as a particular friend 
  • Restaurant recommendations are customized to the individual users instead of a generalized list 
  1. Discover restaurants
  • Discover restaurants in the area that you may not have thought of trying
  • Feed provides important criteria to our users such as, who reviewed it, rating, cuisine, price range, and location
  • Clicking on the restaurant will allow for more information such as pictures and specific dishes your friends reviewed

Lo Fi & Hi Fi Mockups

Iterative Design Learnings

We conducted three moderated and four unmoderated usability tests in order to assess any potential gaps or sticky points in the designs. Upon completing these tests we received helpful feedback that helped strengthen our product.

Problem Points

  • In response to user feedback, we identified a challenge involving confusion between the home screen search bar function and the search bar within the "search restaurants" page, reported by four users.
  • Solution: To tackle this issue, we implemented a clear solution by providing distinct titles for each page. The homepage now explicitly indicates that users are viewing restaurants reviewed by friends, while the search restaurant page title specifies that it displays restaurants that are currently unreviewed by friends.
  • Two users noted that they expected challenges in locating and adding friends if they did not have their precise usernames.
  • Solution: To provide users with expanded search capabilities, we introduced the option for users to find friends by entering their phone numbers.

Positive Takeaways

  • Praise for the product's overall intuitiveness among all users
  • Positive feedback on the well-suited branding
  • Consensus among users that the product's mission was effectively communicated through just three user flows
  • Appreciation from multiple users for the appealing aesthetic of our profile avatars and enthusiasm about gaining access to more avatars by sharing the app with friend
  • Expressions of anticipation and eagerness from users, indicating a strong inclination toward using the product

Implementation Details 

Technical Implementation


  • Back-end: Render 
  • Front-end: Netlify 

Tech stack

  • Web app: React, Flask, PostgreSQL
  • Mobile app: React Native, Flask, PostgreSQL

Technical Challenges


Deploying the app to the Google Play Store proved challenging, particularly concerning the time constraints. With only two weeks remaining before the submission deadline, we acknowledged the need for at least three weeks to complete the deployment process. Consequently, we opted to create a web version for submission.

On a personal note, navigating the challenges of CSS became the most difficult aspect. React Native employs a distinct syntax and set of properties for styling, diverging from traditional CSS conventions. This required acquiring a new skill set and adapting to a different approach in styling components.


Securing a hosting service is essential for catering to a large user base, ensuring seamless accessibility for millions of users. However, Render, our current hosting provider, automatically shuts down services during periods of inactivity, potentially causing delays in accessing our app. Additionally, the Yelp API's free tier imposes limitations, allowing only 500 requests per day. To overcome these challenges, we've integrated caching into the backend to compensate for the restricted number of requests, but moving forward, investing in a plan that offers unlimited requests is imperative.

Simultaneously, optimizing the app's design for responsiveness and enhancing performance to accommodate diverse devices is crucial. This involves meticulous attention to detail to ensure an optimal user experience across a range of devices, addressing both functionality and aesthetics for widespread usability.

Key Takeaways

Planning is crucial, and sometimes, it feels like there's never enough time. Initially, we believed we had ample time to deploy our app to the Play Store. However, a sudden update to the play console's app requirements in late November prompted us to pivot and focus on deploying a web app instead.

Balancing the desire to incorporate extensive functionality with practical constraints is an ongoing challenge. The pressure to include as much as possible within a limited timeframe requires careful consideration and strategic decision-making.

Future Steps

Comments and Links

In order to enhance the overall experience of this food social media app, we will be integrating features such as allowing users to comment and like reviews that their friends have made on restaurant pages. These features allow users to build a more personal connection to the app and their friends, building a more holistically interactive platform.

Profile Page

The next page that will be built for this app is a profile page that will allow users to change their avatar characters, account settings, make changes to their previous reviews, and bookmark restaurants they’ve seen their friends review and want to save for later!

User Usage

Following the gamification aspects of the app, our future steps include unlocking badges, challenges and rankings, to make the app a fun and engaging experience! 



As the app begins to gain users, a revenue source can be through aggregating user data and offering anonymized insights to restaurants and food-related businesses. This data can help them understand customer preferences and trends, allowing them to make informed decisions about their menus, marketing, and locations.


In addition to user data, a strategic avenue for sustained revenue generation involves establishing partnerships that facilitate a revenue share model. Friends Feed can explore collaborations with restaurant reservation services, food events, or restaurant pop-ups, enabling the app to earn a commission for each user who makes a reservation or participates in an event through the platform. This mutually beneficial partnership not only provides an additional revenue stream for Friends Feed but also presents an enticing proposition for potential partners. By leveraging the app's unique features, such as the removal of overwhelming competition and noise, partners can enjoy enhanced visibility, reaching a more targeted audience. The app's positioning as a personalized recommendation platform further instills trust in users, ensuring that the events promoted are tailored to their specific food interests, fostering a more engaged and loyal user base.

Go to Market Strategy

Market Research 

In the current landscape, food recommendation apps like Yelp and Zomato dominate the market, enjoying widespread trust and boasting large user bases. These platforms hold a top-of-mind position when individuals consider utilizing food-related apps, given their established credibility and extensive user reach.

However, Friends Feed introduces a novel approach as a food social media app, diverging from the conventional model. By facilitating interaction among friends through features like likes and replies to friends' reviews, Friends Feed distinguishes itself from its competitors. The unique value proposition lies not only in delivering restaurant recommendations tailored to individual preferences, but also in providing an emotional connection among users who share common food interests. This distinctive feature contributes to a more holistic user experience, setting Friends Feed apart in the competitive landscape of food recommendation apps.

Target Audience

The primary target audience for Friends Feed closely aligns with that of Yelp, focusing on individuals actively seeking reviews and recommendations for restaurants. The platform resonates particularly well with millennials and tech-savvy users, as this demographic feels comfortable using technology to enhance their decision-making process. Additionally, Friends Feed caters to socially active individuals who find joy in sharing their diverse dining experiences and opinions. The app thrives on user-generated content, relying on its users to contribute valuable reviews and ratings, creating a dynamic and interactive space for those who appreciate sharing reviews and ratings on their dining experiences. 

Growth and Marketing Strategy 

As Friends Feed falls into the category of a social media platform, the value of this product relies heavily on users. The more users engage with the platform, the more valuable it becomes to existing users. In the early phases of the product launch, strategic initiatives will be implemented to fuel user growth and achieve the initial milestone of acquiring the first 1000 users. This approach will focus on establishing a solid foundation for the platform, ensuring a robust and engaged user community that enhances the overall value of the Friends Feed experience.

Social Media Platforms

As our target audience focuses on socially active individuals, a strategic approach involves leveraging popular social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok for marketing. Leading up to the product launch, our plan includes collaborating with influential food bloggers/influencers to curate reviews and ratings for restaurants they have previously visited. This preemptive content creation ensures that our recommended restaurants page is populated with a diverse selection, avoiding an initial empty screen.

Upon the official product launch, we will transition to a more intensive marketing phase. Collaborating with the same food bloggers and influencers, we will initiate paid partnership posts on their respective platforms. These posts will not only highlight their genuine experiences using the app but also actively encourage their followers to join the Friends Feed community. By using the followers of these influencers, we want to attract many users who are already excited about finding new and recommended dining experiences.

Referral Programs 

As the Friends Feed app was created through the realization that word-of-mouth can greatly influence decision making, offering a referral program to gain more users is in alignment with our findings. Utilizing the "Add Friends" page, users can easily share the app with their friends by copying the link onto their mobile devices. Unlocking new avatars becomes an exciting incentive as users share the link with up to 10 friends. This not only adds a unique touch to their profiles but also encourages users to bring in friends they genuinely want to engage with on the app, fostering greater usability and community interaction.


Velasco, E. (2018). Scientists uncover why you can’t decide what to order for lunch. California Institute of Technology. 


Product Manager Learnings:

Breanna Dinh

Joining Co.Lab provided me with the great experience of actually working within a cross-functional team, and having to take into account everyone’s capabilities and opinions. One of the most valuable learnings I had was that your Developers’ time is the project’s currency. A Product Manager and Designer can have many ideas and features they want to implement however, it is reliant on the resources that the team currently has whether it be knowledge, time, or money. The smallest features can take up a lot of resources.

Designer Learnings:

Paige HararI

Participating in a cross-functional team at Co.Lab provided me with a valuable opportunity to gain insights into collaborating with product managers and developers. Most notability, it helped me establish best practices for effectively handing off designs to developers. Working on this real world product improved my ability to manage more realistic time constraints and taught me to think innovatively when devising solutions or workarounds, ensuring the preservation of product integrity without compromising design quality and user experience.

Developer Learnings:

John Clapper

Co.Lab was a great experience that taught me a lot about working as a team with a product manager, product designer and another developer. Some of my favorite things I learned are, how to use a kanban board, how to plan very far in advance, how to collaborate with another developer, learning strengths and weaknesses and dividing the work based on those strengths and weaknesses. How to communicate with product managers and product designers, and how to have fun while I’m doing it, even when things don’t go as planned!

Developers Learnings:

Eduardo Rosado


My time at Co.Lab was a fun and important journey. Working with a product manager, a designer, and another developer taught me a lot.I learned to work better with others and to be more organized.The product manager helped me plan better, and the designer made me think more creatively. From another developer, I learned the value of talking clearly and helping each other in tech projects.This experience really improved my skills in handling tasks.It showed me how working as a team can lead to great things.

Full Team Learning