Nobody I know has ever rated anything on Yelp, so I never know how well I can trust the reviews. At the same time, people eat out a lot and often post photos on Instagram.
So I came up with Dishful: A social media and restaurant rating app to rate and share meals, and connect customers and restaurants.
I began by talking to other people about what would make them rate restaurants. It had to be something easy, I learned, but there had to be another aspect to it—otherwise there’s not much incentive to rate. But if you knew that your ratings would be seen by your friends, and that you could see their ratings, then it would be more enticing. Some people like trying new restaurants; some like to wait and see if a friend recommends it. Since sharing meals on social media (especially Instagram) is very popular, adding an easy rating feature to it seems like a successful pairing—like red wine and steak! In order to make the rating easy, it should be mostly quantitative-based rating: yes/no, 1-5 stars. This follows perhaps on the Tinder model of simplified yes and no rating.
One thing I found to be especially important was the focus on specific dishes. This makes a rating both more specific and more helpful—perhaps a restaurant is terrible overall but has one excellent dish, or maybe a good restaurant has one poor dish. It’s interesting how much stock we often put into our impression of restaurants based on one dish on the menu. When we look at a menu in a restaurant, there’s usually no indicator of what people love and hate (aside from the occasional “Our Famous X” or “Customer Favorite!” But certainly never a “Our Infamous X” or “Customer Least Favorite!”). This is a function of menus almost always being printed (and restaurants not wanting to badmouth their own food, understandably). Having a more interactive menu would allow for customers to see what their friends have ordered and liked, or ordered and disliked.
The focus on the dish allows restaurants to get specific data on which menu items are actually well-liked, as opposed to just oft-ordered. Additionally, by tagging dishes to customers, restaurants could set up an easy order/pay system that would circumvent the common issue of divvying up the bill. Ultimately this app could eliminate paper bills and menus. Alongside the check-splitting, the logging of customers would allow for a digital frequent buyer card that would update automatically when a customer steps into the restaurant. Customers wouldn’t have to worry about losing their punch cards, or forgetting to get them punched; the deals would come automatically.
Once I figured out the logistics of how the app would work, I used it as an opportunity to learn Sketch, which for the most part is pretty intuitive.
I began with the home screen/news feed. This was the most essential part of the app—how users post/share their meals. I came up with a system that shows recommended menu items in green and discouraged dishes in red; each of these is a link to a dish-specific page showing photos and full ratings. Each post has a rating for the restaurant, a description/caption of the meal, and an opportunity to include who else was at the meal as well as a photo. It also includes metadata like where the meal was and how long ago the post was shared. Each post has a like/heart and comment feature as well.
When a user enters a restaurant, they would receive a push notification from the app, signaling that they can now rate the restaurant. The forkstar logo in the app toolbar then becomes white, signaling a meal can be posted. Tapping on the forkstar brings up a posting screen that can be dismissed until later (when waiting for the bill, maybe). On this posting screen, the customer can scroll through the restaurant’s menu, swiping left (discourage) or right (recommend) on the dishes they ate, give the restaurant a rating on a 5-star scale, and then optionally add a description, who they ate with and a photo.
Since both customers and restaurants would have profiles, I decided to differentiate them by color: green for customers, purple for restaurants. The green comes from the yes/go basis, while the purple is a relatively underutilized color in the app world. Not only are the profiles of the customers and restaurants differentiated by color, but different objects associated with either the customer or restaurant follow suit. So, menu items are in purple, while customer follower quantities are in green.
On customer pages, you can see basic stats of followers and meals (which can be tapped for more information) as well as Dining Data showing their most frequented restaurant and dish, top rated restaurant and most common companion. Then follows a feed of the customer’s meals. On restaurant pages, you can see basic stats of followers, meals and the 5-star rating. Also prominent is a feature showing who of your friends rate the restaurant well or poorly. This is followed by Dining Data and the restaurant menu, which is sorted by which dishes are most popular with your friends. Below, you can see posts by only your friends, or by anyone at the restaurant.
On the footer toolbar, along with the newsfeed there's a notifications page, an edit profile page, and a search function. I designed each of these icons (and all of them in the app, besides the heart, comment and pin, which were borrowed from the free Streamline pack). The home/news feed icon is a skillet, meant to represent “what’s hot” or “what’s cookin’.” The notification icon is bubbles (boiling activity!) that turn white when a notification is available.
The app logo combines a fork and a star into one symbol, concisely representing the rating of food.
My working app name was Feeed, but when I started to do research on the name, I found it was in use (most of the feed-based names, however, are RSS-related and not food). I was very drawn to the feed/feed double meaning and spent several hours looking up potential names. My process included searching RhymeZone, Latin/Greek roots and prefixes, sites that let you search for words containing XYZ letters and lists of French and Italian dishes. I considered many names along the way, including, but definitely not limited to: Feediate, Feediar, Feedora, Feedji/Foodji, Kung Food, Feedbak, Amplifeed, Wonderfeed, Gnawesome, Forkup, Dishful and Bonafeed. Ultimately I narrowed it down to Dishful and Bonafeed, and settled on Dishful, because I don’t think the 'bonafide' double meaning was readily evident, and the focus on dishes is central to the app. The implicit connotation of wishful helps, too.