How UX design kickstarts restaurant app MyDish
It is a major challenge for restaurants and cafes to find suitable staff and thus maintain their service level, which was already the case before the corona pandemic. A possible solution for this is digitalization, whereby restaurant visitors, for example, order and pay for themselves. But how you do that, without compromising customer friendliness and customer experience, is still quite a challenge. At restaurant app MyDish they have every confidence that it is possible. With LINKIT UX design as a “secret weapon”.
Order via smartphone
Simon Bosschieter, the initiator of MyDish, formulated the idea in February 2020 when he went out to eat sushi in Amsterdam. “You could order your food there yourself via an iPad. A nice idea, but I did not have an overview of the menu, which was then on a printed version. Also, I had no idea what the rest were ordering. Of course it is inconvenient to work with a device that many others have also been using during the coronavirus pandemic. I missed the interaction and realized that this could be done much better.”
“That is how I came up with the idea of MyDish. A restaurant app with which you can order and pay via your own phone by scanning a QR code. Especially when it is busy, customers often have to wait a long time for this. And with corona it is also very nice that waiters do not have to walk past the tables. Via the app you can also see what your table companions order, you can easily split the bill and even receive a receipt. Ideal for the Dutch! ”
Looking for digital help
Arne Kleijn and Tim Jongen, both owners of restaurant ‘IJver’ in Amsterdam, had already researched the possibilities of an app for their restaurant three years earlier with several partners and other restaurant owners in Amsterdam. Was it possible to make the business easier for the owners in that way? They soon found out that creating such an app requires an enormous amount of investment in effort, time, money and expertise. Nobody offered it and a suitable product simply could not be found at the time.
Fast forward a bit, the lockdown struck us and the need for such an app became not only feasible, but almost essential. How do you ensure that you limit the number of customer contacts as much as possible? Tim decided to visit companies again with the same group to see if there was a suitable app on the market.
Simon: “On a deserted King’s Day I walked past Tim’s closed restaurant, who I still knew from the past. When I saw his closed restaurant, I decided to pitch my idea to him.”
Tim was very enthusiastic about the concept of MyDish, and one thing led to another. More people joined in and we asked developer Vincent van Doesburg to come up with a Proof of Concept (PoC) to investigate whether the app was technically feasible. After the PoC we realized such an app was indeed doable, feasible and in fact made a lot of sense, given the overall environment created by the coronavirus. Following from that, LINKIT stepped in to develop the MVP (Minimal Viable Product). From there, MyDish took off.
Charlotte steps in
That was also the moment that UX-designer Charlotte Postma from LINKIT started working with MyDish. “As a UX-designer, I actually represent the role of the customer during the development process,” she explains. “And in the case of MyDish, that’s a dual role, representing both that of the customer (restaurant owners) and that of the guest. I try to make sure the user experience is the best it can be, especially before the app is launched.
The easiest route
In itself it seems obvious, but it is not according to Charlotte. “The ideas often arise from the needs of the business and “should” really be implemented that way. Although the idea may be good, inconsistencies can arise at the level of detail, making user-friendliness sometimes hard to determine precisely. The same goes for the developers. Often they really think of the interests of the user, but when things get complicated on a technical level they are sometimes tempted to choose the easiest route. It is up to me to monitor the user experience, while also remaining sensitive to the underlying (technical) discussions.”
There’s work to be done
At MyDish everyone wanted to prevent a bad user experience. Charlotte: “The basic concept of the app, in the form of the PoC, was already complete when I arrived. The first thing I do is simply see what I think of it from a user perspective. Do things make sense? Is the app intuitive? There are almost always things that are not (yet) ideal. At MyDish, the buttons were not in the same place on all pages in the beginning and the consistency and experience were not yet fully realized. That is of course not a good idea, so I started with trying to improve that.”
The next step in the UX process is testing. Lots of testing. At MyDish this was an extra challenge because there are not one but two user groups. Charlotte: “You have an interface for the guest who uses the app to order, but also one for the restaurant owner who has to process the orders. Both are equally important for a successful outcome. This was a nice assignment for me because I had to test twice. ”
The Business Importance of UX
Simon underlines the importance of UX from his point of view. “Catering and retail entrepreneurs are often of the mourner type. They are constantly working to please guests, which makes quality extremely important. If something works well then they embrace you and if it doesn’t work right immediately then they don’t need you. There is therefore not much room for errors. Both the restaurant visitor and the guest should really see MyDish as a hospitality app that has added value to them. An app that can be used in all types of catering industry environments. From a simple bar to a Michelin star diner, and even for large events. People often want to celebrate something and the experience is very important. With MyDish you compete with the waiter, so to speak. The user-friendliness must therefore be top and UX design is very important for this.”
“Extension” of the cash register
The restaurant owner should not be stuck with an online order list after ordering, which he or she then has to type back into the POS (Point of Sale) system. MyDish is therefore integrated into the POS system, so that everything is automatic and the restaurant can focus more on hospitality than entering manual entries into the register. Simon: “This essentially makes MyDish an extension of the POS system, as it were. Almost all POS voice providers were enthusiastic about this as it relieves them from extra manual work. In fact, many of them think MyDish is groundbreaking.”
The importance of Charlotte’s work is therefore not to be under-estimated, which is precisely why MyDish gave her every opportunity to propose improvements. “We are now in the final phase before the MVP (Minimal Viable Product) is ready and that includes the really serious user tests. During such a test, Charlotte follows the behaviour and the resulting choices of relevant test subjects, to determine what can be improved and how.
Test and improve
“At MyDish it’s paramount that restaurant visitors easily roll through the ordering process. Is it immediately clear how to order? What about settling the bill – is that clear? By continuously testing, improving and testing again you can continue to improve the experience. In the last major user test, the process went virtually flawlessly.”
The proceeds of UX
“From the perspective of the restaurant owners, I did encounter several points for improvement. As an example, it is better to use the word “table” instead of the word “session”, which is common in IT. In the final checks, testers were found to be confusing the main and sub-categories of the menu without realizing it. Then you have, for example, main dishes as the main category with subcategories such as burgers or wraps below. It happened too often during the test that the side dish items were presented as the main category, so there was still some work to be done. These are small things, but we want to do it perfectly, and it is precisely with UX optimization that you get these kinds of points sorted out before the roll-out and deployment.”
Especially for the startup
“Of course you can go live without UX,” Charlotte concludes. “There are still plenty of companies going that path, but I wonder if that will be a success story. You can only leave a first impression once. If it is bad, you have lost that opportunity. That is why UX is especially important for small companies. Large companies often still have a well-known name that attracts people. Startups, such as MyDish, rely on quality from the -get-go., and without proper UX in mind, that is difficult to achieve. ”
Do you want to know what LINKIT can do for your company with UX? Please contact Charlotte for more information. Or read our whitepaper about the importance of good web performance for your website.