In my final course at York University myself and two other students were paired with TableReady, an Atlanta based restaurant reservation and waitlisting app to work on their UX and redesign the UI. This project took place during an 8 week course starting in July of 2020. The design software I used for this project was Figma.
The work completed:
- Requirements Gathering
- UX Research and Strategy
- Rebranding & Design System
- Information Architecture
- Wire-framing & Prototyping
Glenn Pritchard: Team Lead, Research, Mobile App UI Design & Prototyping, User Testing
Sewon Bahng: Visual Designer, Tablet App UI Design & Prototyping, Presentation Design
Adedamola Awotundund: Project Management
TableReady is a restaurant reservation and waitlisting app that turns smartphones into table pagers. Customers can map restaurants, explore with filters or search by name, then book a reservation or reserve a spot on the waitlist all without stepping foot in the restaurant. When a table becomes available customers get a notification to their smartphone letting them know it’s ready. TableReady also has a complimentary Restaurant Dashboard tablet app that acts as a seating management system and helps restaurant staff manage their reservations and waitlists in real time. TableReady revolutionizes the way restaurants interact with their customers, it helps hungry customers get into their favourite restaurants faster and allows restaurants to seat guests with increased speed and accuracy.
Research: Stakeholder Interview
We began this project by conducting a stakeholder interview with our client in order to learn more about the product. The interview helped to reveal great insight into how the two apps would work and compliment each other. The client provided us with a detailed Statement of Work that outlined many features, modules and expectations, including separate portals for restaurants, event spaces and coffee shops as well as functionality for paid push notifications, a news feed and a direct message feature. In addition to the Statement of Work, our client also provided us with screen mocks she had made in past.
We knew we had our work cut out for us but we we're excited to get started!
In order to understand the current thoughts and behaviours of both customers and restaurant staff in relation to reservation applications and seating software, we sent out two surveys, each one tailored to our different user groups (Tech savvy individuals who like to dine out & restaurant staff). The key insights were:
Restaurant Customers Survey (34 respondents):
- 18/34 respondents said they have used restaurant reservation apps in the past
- Most people described positive experiences when asked about using reservation apps
- People are willing to be waitlisted but they want communication and updates about wait times and availability
- 49% of respondents said reservation apps are very efficient in comparison to other methods of booking
- 40% of respondents said they check online reviews of restaurants before going
Restaurant Staff Survey (12 respondents):
- 35% of restaurants said the majority of their reservations are made through OpenTable or a similar app
- Most restaurants described reservation apps as useful, efficient and an overall good experience
- 62.5% of restaurants said they frequently follow up with customers after good or bad reviews
- When asked how they follow up restaurants mentioned many avenues of communication: ReplyPro, OpenTable or TripAdvisor, email, phone and social media
- The majority of restaurants expressed the need for better means of communication with customers before and after their visit
- Several restaurants said they would like reservation apps to help reaching customers with marketing and promotion
Ideation: Major Features
After reviewing the insights from our research it became clear that, generally speaking, reservation applications are well received. They're easy-to-use and helped people get into their favourite restaurants fast, so why reinvent the wheel? We planned to include the core features that make current restaurant reservation apps so successful but incorporate new features that both, respond to users' needs and help us stand out amongst our competitors. We came up with 3 major features that responded to our users' needs identified in the research.
New Features (these features are discussed in further detail below)
- Direct Messaging
- Marketing Module
- Up-to-the-Minute Waitlist Updates
In addition to the features discussed above, we were also given a list of feature and functionality requests in the statement of work provided by our client. We knew it wouldn't be possible to complete everything 8 weeks so we employed the MoSCoW method to prioritize important features that would help us deliver a minimum viable product to our client at the end of the course.
Once we established a list of features and functionalities we began to sketch low fidelity wireframes to help bring our ideas to life. Below is a selection of some of our sketches.
We then turned our sketches into digital wireframes, making key decisions about button placement and the flow of screens. Below is a selection of some of our mid-fidelity wireframes.
Our research revealed that restaurant staff wanted better means of communication with customers before and after their visit. We responded to this need with our direct message feature. To avoid message-free-for-alls, the direct messages can only be initiated by the restaurant. The direct message feature revolutionizes the way restaurants communicate with their customers by responding to their needs in several ways:
- It allows restaurants to reach out to customers before their visit to address late arrivals or to confirm or deny special requests
- It allows restaurants to reach out to customers after their visits to remedy bad reviews or show appreciation for good reviews
- Communication avenues are now consolidated and in one centralized and organized location
Our research also revealed that restaurant owners wanted to see reservation apps include marketing and promotions functionalities. We responded to this need with our Marketing Module that helps restaurants convert TableReady users into customers through the use of push notifications, coupons and social media marketing. The Marketing Module responds to the needs of restaurants in several ways:
- It allows restaurants to purchase, create, manage and send push notifications to potential customers, letting them know about new offerings or promotions
- It allows restaurants to purchase, create, manage and send coupons to potential customers in order to entice them into the restaurant
- It allows restaurants to boost Facebook and Instagram business page posts directly from the TableReady app, helping to convert audiences into customers
- It allows restaurants to track all types of marketing with comprehensive analytics, making it easier to form smarter strategic decisions
Up-to-the-minute Waitlist Updates
Our survey data revealed that users of reservation and waitlisting apps are willing to be put on a waitlist to get into their favourite restaurant but it was important that they were provided with updates and communication about wait times and table availability. In order to keep the customer informed we added estimated wait times (if applicable) to each restaurant's listing, plus a confirmation prompt and up-to-the-minute push notification updates. The waitlist communication and updates respond to customer needs in several ways:
- Approximate wait times are listed on each restaurant's listing, whether customers are browsing on the explore page or on the map or when searching by name or filter
- When customers choose to book a reservation at a restaurant with a waitlist they are reminded with a confirmation prompt
- Customers receive a push notification 15 minutes before their table letting them know to head to the restaurant