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Many people enjoy dining out. Although, it is not enjoyable to wait endlessly in line or at the bar or having to wait to split the tab — it is a highly inefficient processes that often include being elbowed, getting someone's drink spilled onto you, being ignored by the server or bartender, or waiting while staff locates the misplaced payment.
Waitless is a mobile app concept being created to disrupt the pay-at-table, split check restaurant and bar-tab mobile app categories. The latest idea is a mobile and watch app for patrons visiting restaurants, bars and venues that garner large crowds and long lines. The app solution removes the user from the lines, gives them more control over ordering and payment, and ultimately makes the occasion more fun and enjoyable.
My challenge was to understand the target market of users who have used mobile order and payment apps, analyze the competitive landscape of these app categories, and design a product that shared the experience between mobile device and wearable.
As product designer, my involvement spanned all stages of the design process: research, strategy, design, and user testing. The result is the company’s first iOS mobile app with Apple watch compatibility.
My interviews revealed that respondents wanted quick access to venues and their order menus. Users were frustrated with apps built with too many extra features. Feature bloat created mental havoc for the user and pulled the focus away from these primary users needs.
Users wanted a simpler way to select drinks and submit their order. Respondents had trouble reading through lengthy drink menus. Small buttons and text made it difficult to add drinks and review the order before submission and brightly-backlit screens were harsh on the eyes.
Users also wanted better explanation and flexibility in how they could split bills with friends in a group. Splitting a bill was a primary feature of competitor apps, but the process confused the user or the app didn’t offer an option to split the bill by line item (Velocity app).
I organized my data by creating personas that I could refer back to throughout the design process ensuring that I was designing for essential user needs and goals and to reduce the risk of feature bloat in my products.
In addition to user research, I created a competitor analysis ( Link ) of the following apps: Tabbed Out, Velocity, and Orderella. Tabbed Out highlighted user incentives through their loyalty/ rewards program, but the UI was inconsistent — color of the menu bar and use of the color blue, requiring the user to learn new representations for tasks. Orderella suffered from similar inconsistencies. However, it utilized an onboarding experience to explain its key features, answering popular questions and increasing confidence of a potential user. Velocity had the most appealing and delightful design. But it also had the most feature bloat of the three competitors and limited itself to four- and five-star venues that were “hard-to-reserve.”
I decided to strip out the best features from each app that would solve the needs of my users and incorporate them into my product designs.
After poring through all the data, I concluded that the products would be designed with the following features:
I generated a list of user stories ( Link ) and user flows ( Link ) to help define and prioritize the actions of the user. The user stories helped me determine the minimum viable product essentials to design for, the specific features applicable to the watch app, and the nice-to-haves that held less importance.
In my user flows, I recognized areas where the flows could be simplified through automation. Automating secondary actions would provide a more delightful and seamless experience for the user. Areas benefiting from automation included the promo-discount application and default tip amount in the User-closeout flow.
I also focused on the order process and pulled inspiration from the order review screen of the Starbucks app, a drink order app mentioned by more than one survey respondent. In addition to reviewing the full order after adding a drink, users would have the ability to edit or remove a drink before submitting their order. This flow would remove complexity from the menu screen and allow the user to focus on submitting the correct drink order.
Simultaneously, I began designing the brand identity and visual design systems.
The logo is built up using three visual concepts representing the following brand attributes: Personal, time sensitive, and effortless. The result is a strong, balanced mark that is recognizable at any size.
The color system is fresh, inviting, and lively. The palette is inspired by the idea of a group of young professionals enjoying a fun night out.
My type system uses Karla for headlines and Lato for body content. Karla has a quirky professionalism, a duality that resembles the modern spirit of the working world. Lato is modern and its light weight makes it easier for the user to navigate through a venue’s drink menu.
I designed my closeout process to be short and sweet. Users had the option to pay the bill or split it two different ways. They could add profiles of others who also used the app or claim unassigned drinks to their portion of the tab.
I conducted a user test on my lo-fi wireframes and received invaluable feedback in areas of the process that I had blindly overlooked. Users, particularly those with Android devices, disliked my current labeling system for unassigned friends and informed me how that system was typically reserved for message notifications. My solution was to remove this system and replace the avatar placeholder icon with one that was more semantic.
Users also highlighted redundancies within the split process. My initial screens carried over the tab review section from the first screen. My final solution replaced the tab review with the contact list to put emphasis on assigning profiles. This shortened the process by a few clicks and resulted in faster task completion of assigning profiles to members of the group.
For the venues, I leveraged Usability Hub’s Preference Test feature and tested card content layouts to help me finalize a solution. Users appreciated the larger image because they could ‘see’ the venue. I took this feedback and made the image a focal point of the cards in my list view.
I also explored the presentation of menu item options focusing on space and button size. I reduced the opacity of option buttons to direct the user’s attention towards adding the drink to the order. Button sizes were increased for users to scan, understand, and take action.
I adhered to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and principles to design the watch app. I also conducted user interviews of Apple watch users to get an understanding of how they used the watch. Watch users utilized their wearable most frequently for notifications and quick access to data. I used this information to create the following screens:
I created the prototype and wrote a script for user testing (Link). The script focused on venue discovery, drink order, and tab closeout.
A benefit of engaging users early and often was that I was able to tease out most of the issues and confusions before testing the prototype. However, this round of user testing uncovered issues concerning the copy, particularly within notification messages and CTAs in the closeout screens. During and after tests, users suggested alternative words and phrases that would better help them understand what was being asked of them. I received satisfactory test results after incorporating these changes.
This project taught a lot including: