Dishnary - Case Study
My self (Co-founder and UX designer)
Raviraj Minawala (Co-founder and app developer)
Duration - 2.5 years (10.2016 - 03.2019)
A digital restaurant menu app on mobile and tablet. With an aim to replace the traditional paper menus at restaurants and enhance the dining experience for guest by providing more information about the food and drinks through pictures and ingredient glossary.
While dining out at a restaurant and deciding what to eat — I came across many dishes on the menu that I had never heard of or tried before. So, I began to read the dish descriptions to better understand them and at the same time trying to visualise them in my mind. That’s when I realised that if only there was a picture to better communicate the dish it would make it a lot easier for diners like me to try new dishes or cuisines.
Traditional paper menus have been around for over a hundred years with virtually no significant changes. They are as outdated as the newspaper. But our world is more dynamic, visual and technologically paced than ever. We deserve a radical shift in the way we understand food. Just think of all the times when you have read something on the menu and you had to google the name or the ingredient to really know what it is. With the ever-changing food world, it is hard to keep up with gastronomical innovations and trends. Now we have access to more cuisines, unknown cuisines. But the medium…in this case the paper menu has stayed the same.
Challenge - How might we improve the guest’s dining experience through a digital menu?
In order for the digital menus to be more user centric and more helpful with decision making than the previous paper menus, we needed to first understand the problems currently faced by the diners, identify the needs of the diners and then design solutions that can deliver an enhanced dinning experience.
To begin with the first thing required was to empathise with diners who happen to be the core users. What were the problems and issues they face while dining out at restaurants in regards to the menus from which they make decisions. As well as identifying their needs while they decide what to eat at a restaurant.
Carrying out secondary research revealed some interesting insights relevant to dining out. A survey conducted by Harris Poll in 2016 on behalf of Open Table (an online restaurant- reservation service company) found out how diners feel about restaurant menus. The survey included more than 2,000 U.S. diners, aged 18 and older.
An overwhelming majority of diners (91%) say they are more likely to order a dish they’re not familiar with if it has additional menu features to add explanation and context to the dish.
Unfamiliar ingredients - 56% of diners are concerned that ordering a menu item made with an unfamiliar ingredient will ruin their dining experience, and 74% feel they will be wasting their money if they don't enjoy their meal. 43% of diners said description of ingredients or a glossary of menu terminology (30%) would make them more likely to order an unfamiliar dish.
A picture is worth a thousand words - More than half (53%) of the diners said photos of the menu items would make them more likely to order a dish they are unfamiliar with.
Pronunciation - The vast majority of diners (88%) have come across a menu item they couldn’t pronounce at some point. Most of them rely on their server or fellow diners to help when ordering, either taking a stab at pronunciation (53%), asking the waiter (52%), or pointing at the item on the menu (47%).
Furthermore, while conducting primary research through interviews some more user needs were uncovered. Such as the need for nutrition and allergy information of the food in the menu since now a lot of diners are health conscious so they prefer to know the nutritional values of the food they are about to order. The ability to translate language was another need mentioned by diners who frequently travelled to foreign countries either for work or holidays. There was also a keen interest in on-table ordering function which allows the users to directly place their order thought the digital menu on their smartphone rather than waiting for the server to take the order.
So while analysing this survey two things were apparent, first the diners are hesitant to try meals that are unfamiliar to them or has an unknown ingredient this is because the paper menus usually have very little information and no visual guidance for diners to make better informed decisions. Second due to such issues diners feel that additional menu features like dish photos and glossary or menu terminology can help them better decide and make them more likely to order a dish they are not familiar with.
Therefore, while designing the product these things were kept in mind to develop potential solutions that can address the diner's needs. Hence, the potential solution for digital menu was one that has both, pictures of the dish and ingredient descriptions.
Low Fidelity Wireframes
High Fidelity Mock-up
- Background research
- User research
- Low and high fidelity prototype
- Verifying design through user testing