This is a concept project.
People like to eat. People want to eat. People need to eat. The cup of ramen or microwaveable dinners or fast food restaurants solves the problem of accessible food, but what about finding good food?
As South Korea in general uses mobile phones for a countless number of purposes, a mobile app is better than a cross-platform application.
There’s a market need for SongEats because competitors are limited in region or unable to easily cater to people across multiple languages.
How can we help people who want to search for a restaurant on a map?
The application is made adopting an existing design system. Material 2 design system by Google is used for components, forms, fields, button placements, and margins.
Determine the Users
Assessing the international social climate
Designing a product for a different country provides additional difficulty as I need to find ESL interviewees or a way to translate responses from interviewees. I started with surveys I distributed out on forums used by Koreans and/or Americans.
Surveys were a quick, inexpensive way and allowed easy translation of any Korean responses into English.
Establish our Userbase
Personas represent a larger group of people and narrow down who I'm designing for.
Some responses were in Korean, so I translated them into English and verified what they said with a bilingual Korean/English speaker on my end.
Users found, but what about their needs?
While users go about finding food in their own personalized way, their needs and pain points for finding delicious food are consistent. Using the app should have enough steps to satisfy all conditions without being cumbersome.
How can we help search for a restaurant?
The SongEats application I design lets users review restaurants, choose where to eat, and give the means to clearly and accurately decide the best locations to eat.
Competition examined for new opportunities
There are multiple American and Korean restaurant apps available for download, so I examine several direct competitors to see what they provide, where they operate, and where there are opportunities. Finding the opportunities and strengths of these companies will help me figure out what I should do well and better.
There is a market need and opening for SongEats
Through competitive and user research, I identified there is a need for this product in the market. Yelp and Foursquare are extensive in America, but less so internationally, whereas local competitors like DiningCode and MangoPlate focus on Koreans over non-Korean speaking users.
Gaps & Opportunities
- Lack of user customization, filter, and search options in most products
- Translation from another language to English is common, but the inverse is uncommon
- International market is ripe for market entry
- Improvements on a tag and list system are an easy way to differentiate
Broken down screen by screen
Each competitor excels in searching, so it is better to adaptto current conventions and set up the application like competitors.
Building the app back up
I designed the wireframes and performed a round of user testing on the initial prototype. Low fidelity prototypes trade off reliance on the user "knowing" what does what and inferring how to navigate the app design but allow for rapid iterations.
My assumptions going in were users could navigate and select restaurants of their desire, as well as edit items on their profile.
I found 8 people who spoke English or could be translated to Enlgish and 20-30 minutes to spare to go through an unmoderated, recorded testing session with the prototype. They followed the same inclusion/exclusion criteria used for interviewees in the "Understand" stage.
8 people was enough to cover approximately 90% of potential issues, if not more, and issues brought up more than once can be prioritized.
Findings / Assessments
- 88% consider the app useful
- 88% had no issues using the prototype
The colors used for the solution should be part of the Material.IO color guidelines as well as different enough from all other competitors its color scheme alone sets it apart.
The font is Noto Sans as it supports characters across multiple languages including Korean and fits within the Material.IO design system.
Let’s find a dinner restaurant
Users start the journey by searching for something they want to enjoy.
Refining the Search
If the user cannot find a desirable restaurant or only want specific restaurant types, they may refine their search criteria further.
Read about a restaurant
Perhaps the user second guesses or isn't sure if the restaurant is the right choice. Plenty of information is given to alleviate this concern.
More Korean-based competitors used the 3-mood system, so I incorporated that. The 3-mood system scores a restaurant between 1-5 with 3 choices given to a user. Like is 5 points, So-so is 3 points, and Dislike is 1 point. The algorithm takes the average likes to so-so’s to dislikes and produces the final review score.
Writing a Good Review
Finding your Restaurant
The user successfully chose a restaurant! To get there, they might need directions and I have a map to get them there.
Define the User in One Page
SongEats also allows users to create a profile through the app, tracking all their reviews, photos they submitted, and lists of all their favorite restaurants.
Make a list and check it twice
Users, when they set up a profile, can also track their favorites and set up lists to share with others.
Accessible Options for Users
Users can alter the native language of their application, they can access any screen from the hamburger menu in any part of SongEats, and they can refine their search criteria even further beyond a search term and tags.
I built a functional prototype of the software in Figma as well including the interactions between dialog windows and in-line editing.
Final Design - Preliminary Test Results
Learnings & Insights
It was more difficult than expected to design an app for an international audience. You’re dealing with language barriers and cultural barriers, and what might work for an American-centric audience wouldn’t fare as well with a Korean audience due to how drastically different their social and cultural backgrounds are.
In the future, I hope I can make more advanced applications and features, as this is only the start. I could see future features added, such as more expansive list options or more information displayed for each type of restaurant and even filtering by amenity types.
If I were to improve the app in the future, I would first change the look of the app to conform with any new Material.IO guideline updates. Next, I would figure out the primary pain points with user research after the product is released then home in on features/changes to alleviate those issues.