Research shows that users want curated information to help decide where to go for a specific experience
To better grasp how Yelp users currently navigate for relevant information within the app, I conducted interviews with five existing Yelp users.
My key research goals were to empathize with the users’ priorities while making decisions on the app and to validate the assumption that users are looking for an enriched experience on how relevant and reliable information is presented. Over the course of my research, three key patterns of common user mental modals were uncovered.
Research Insight 1:
Users desire curated information
Two key reasons why users turn to Yelp to research into a business is 1) trust and 2) convenience. Curated content allows users to access the most relevant information, in a digestible and discoverable way. Research shows that an average Yelp user only spends 3.42 minutes on the site per day, a daily session includes the end-to-end experience from search to decision making, as such, curation becomes key in helping users accomplish goals within limited time constraints.
Research Insight 2:
Users turn to Yelp with a specific experience already in mind
Users arrive on Yelp with a specific experience in mind and are ready to act on it after some research and validation. This insight further validated my earlier assumption that users know the kind of experience they want, and visit Yelp with the intent to buy immediately.
Research Insight 3:
Users have common needs in decision making
Users’ prioritization and navigation behavior differ in the decision making process, but the base requirements are the same. Majority of users feel that ratings, photos, menus, and review information are vital to their decision making. Elevating that information’s accessibility is critical in meeting existing user expectations.
User Persona and Empathy Map
To distill the research further, a primary persona emerged to synthesize the user patterns into actionable insights. For a consumer product like Yelp, it was important to have a persona that embodies the ethos of Yelp's primary user group.
An empathy map further highlighted the persona’s mental model and aspirations. My primary persona, Jessica, became the subject of my designs, which allowed me to better empathize with users' needs, experiences, behaviors and goals in a more relatable way.
Customer Journey Map
To better visualize Jessica’s engagement with Yelp over the entire user experience journey, I developed a Customer Journey Map that illustrates her actions and emotions while completing tasks in given scenario.
Strategize and curate content based on how the user prioritizes information
To brainstorm the content strategies towards solving my problem, I first organized my research based on how users categorize specific experiences and then created a user flow to layout the proposed infrastructure of the Yelp Select feature design.
Note: In this project, I have used a specific example to demonstrate how this feature can positively impact users looking to research restaurants for an outdoor lunch experience, but there are many other opportunities to scale this feature to cover other use cases (some of which I will touch on at the end of this case study).
Yelp Select User Flow
From the hierarchy established from the prior categorization step, I used outdoor lunch as the scenario premise of my user flow diagram. The user flow includes a new entry point to the Yelp Select feature via a Lunch Subpage that directs Jessica to information, ratings, and reviews for the specific lunch experience she is looking for.
Designing a feature to an existing app meant creating new elements within Yelp's existing design system. To emulate the design choices in Yelp’s style, I created an UI Kit that documents the new elements to be incorporated into the Yelp Select feature, while utilizing similar styles in color, navigation, and typographic to maintain a level of consistency and standard to the Yelp brand.
Iterating designs to better match Yelp Select with user expectations
To gather feedback on the initial prototypes, I conducted moderated usability tests over Zoom with five existing Yelp users. The objective of these tests is to determine if users find the new Yelp Select feature discoverable and to assess whether the users can accomplish the tasks with ease and confidence. Insights, slips/errors, or pain points were documented along the way.
Takeaways #1, #3, and #5 were clear wins, these results affirmed that users respond to the new Yelp Select feature positively and intend to use it when searching for experience specific information on Yelp. Takeaways #2 and #4 required further exploration and iteration.
#2: Page differentiation is key to the feature launch and helps orient the user
To address the feedback received from the usability test concerning the need to better differentiate between the general business page and lunch page, I iterated on a number of possible alternative solutions on the information architecture and feature UI. These changes included the removal of unnecessary elements on the lunch page that may not be specific to lunch and also renaming the subpage header to increase the contrast between pages. For a feature launch to be successful, it is vital for users to first discover the new feature.
#4: Aligning terminology with user's expectation is an iterative process
During the usability testing, I asked the users what they would expect to see happen when they click on the “Lunch Button” on the business page.
When asked, many of users stated that they expect to see information on the restaurant’s lunch hours, lunch menu and lunch dishes. With this insight in mind, I changed the information architecture of the lunch page to present what the users expect to see in a more discoverable way.