Yelp “Friends Feed” Feature
The task of deciding where to eat is a stressful process due to the overwhelming amount of options. Yelp’s “Friends Feed” feature allows you to narrow down the restaurants and specific dishes to the ones recommended by your friends/food bloggers you 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.
How do we assist restaurant-goers by alleviating their pain of deciding where they would want to eat, to make the deciding process a more enjoyable experience?
We’ve all been through the pain of having to figure out where to go eat. Whether it’s because you’re too lazy to cook, going out with friends or for a special occasion, it can be a daunting and time consuming task due to the overwhelming amount of options. This can be made even more stressful when you’re eating with other people that are “good with anything”.
A study done in California had concluded that although there were more people that stopped at the table with more jam options, they were less likely to actually purchase any. While the table with less options, customers bought 10 times more jam. This showcases how the vast amount of options is not always a good thing, it can cause people to spend a lot more time trying to decide and may not end up selecting anything.
The process of deciding where to eat, from scrolling through the food options, looking through the reviews and photos, all of this can be a long process that is repeated every time you want to find a restaurant. Imagine how much time you have lost throughout your lifetime just deciding on a place to eat. While conducting our own research, our users ranged from going out to eat 4-12 times a month, and spending 15 - 30 minutes each time on deciding where to eat, which resulted in a range of 1 - 6 hours per month just solely spent on this decision-making process. This is time that could be spent doing more enjoyable and valuable activities.
To understand our users’ pain points when selecting a restaurant, we conducted 8 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.
88% 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
Our research indicates that there are a large number of restaurant options that users can choose from; however, the current reviews and ratings platforms are not allowing users to narrow the search. With a vast amount of reviews, from varying taste buds, it’s hard to trust the opinions of strangers.
Landing on the Solution
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 help narrowing their options. The hypothesis is that if Yelp users had recommendations from friends or people that they trust, it would strongly influence their decision in choosing a restaurant, leading to a less stressful time deciding.
Explanation of Solution
Through research of our own, when asked our users what type of criterias can sway their decision making process, 88% of them mentioned word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends.The “Friends Feed” feature on Yelp is created to narrow the options to restaurants reviewed by people they follow on the app, such as friends and food bloggers.
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?
- Options can be narrowed when you know you have the same taste buds as a particular friend
2. Follow food bloggers
- View a list of restaurants that your favourite food bloggers have recommended
- No more searching through endless social media platforms or website to find that one dish they recommended at that one restaurant
3. Discover restaurants
- Discover restaurants in the area that you may not have thought of trying
- Feed provides important criterias 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
I plan to collaborate with UX/UI Designers and Developers to help create an MVP of this feature however, due to the complexity of creating a feature for an existing app, we will use Yelp APIs to create a separate product to have full control of development.
Product Manager Learnings:
- I have learned that you may want to jump straight into a product that you really want to create, but taking time to understand the problem space and the users’ pain points, is what will truly make a great product.
- Through conducting user interviews, I have learned that the problem you think your users are having is not always truly the problem they’re having.
- I now understand the concept of creating one feature that solves the core problem very well, over having 20 features that doesn’t solve the problem at all.