Client: Student Project at Brandeis University

Industries: Food, Tourism 

Team Size:  2 

Project Time: 9 weeks


The landscape of the restaurant industry has changed since the pandemic. How have customer behaviors changed, if at all? What features are essential to include in a restaurant searching app to meet the needs of people today?


We began with generative research to get a better understanding of the users needs, feelings, behavior and the obstacles they face, in different situations. We used our findings from the research to build low fidelity wireframes. We conducted usability tests and then updated them.

My Role

I worked on each step in the project. Research planning, conducting interviews & surveys, analysis, synthesis & triangulation, making persona empathy maps, journey maps, low fidelity wireframes, planning and conducting usability tests, and updating the wireframes. 


Phase I: Research

We began the process by making a research plan for this project. We planned on conducting 3 semi-structured interviews, virtually. Followed by a survey with 30 participants, to fill the gaps and validate findings from our interviews. 


I conducted 2 interviews and assisted with the third one as a notetaker. The duration for each interview was approximately 30 minutes. We recorded, transcribed and coded the interviews. This allowed us to extract the verbatims as well as see the underlying patterns among the participants. I made a list of important patterns that needed to be validated along with the gaps in our findings.


We crafted 10 questions for an online survey and distributed them. We fell short of our target of 30 participants and decided to close the survey with 28 usable responses based on the project timeline. I generated a report from these responses and triangulated them against the gaps/validation list.

Persona Empathy Maps

We created 3 persona empathy maps to help us understand our user needs, feelings, behaviors and frustrations better. 

  • Adventurous Foodie
  • On the go eater
  • Covid Conscious eater
Persona Empathy Map : Covid Conscious Eater
Thinking Style III : Adventurous Foodie
Thinking Style II : Covid Conscious Eater
Summary of Research Findings
  • Food Quality and consistency trumped all other preferences when searching for restaurants to eat out at
  • Search and filter features were used by most participants irrespective of which app/website they used. 
  • Photos build anticipation and help people quickly decide.
  • People view ratings and reviews whether or not they fully trust them.
  • People are frustrated by inaccurate information
  • Customer service plays an important role in customer revists. 
  • Covid Safety was not as important a preference while searching for restaurants. However, it would make them feel comfortable dining in and affect their decision to return.
Journey Maps

We created two journey maps to help us visualize different phases, actions in the users journey as well as the opportunities in each phase. 

Phase II: Design

I began ideating some key features to meet user needs based on the research findings. Some of the  basic features were:

  • Search and Filter: Established method to find a restaurant for most people
  • Photo feature: To quickly get a sense of food quality and type
  • Ratings, Reviews & Sort
  • Extended customization to expand or narrow search results 
  • Ensure information accuracy and create a trustworthy online community
Low Fidelity Wireframes
  • I sketched out some wireframes before moving on to figma to build 3 low-fidelity wireframes for usability testing. Homepage, Search results and Restaurant details page.

Phase III: Usability Testing

  • We conducted 1 test study and 2 remote structured usability tests.We had finalized 10 tasks in total and each task was accompanied by an average of 4 questions. Our test metrics were
    • Successful Task Completion 
    • Critical Errors 
    • Non-Critical Errors
    • Error Free Rate
    • Time on Task
    • Subjective Difficulty Rating and Reason
Summary of Changes Made

I updated the wireframes based on the test results.

  • Enhanced search and filter features
  • Updated footer section
  • Built up “Spotlight” section in homepage
  • Ensured consistency in symbols used to represent elements
  • Added features to control how the results are viewed
  • Updated the top banner section in “Restaurant Details” page
  • Made other minor changes to create more negative space and reduce the clutter in the “Restaurant Details” page without removing important information.

Next Steps Forward

  • Develop and build all screen wireframes and features 
  • Look into alternative design considerations
  • Develop high-fidelity prototypes
  • Conduct more usability tests


Each step in the User Centered Design process needs careful attention due to the interdependent nature of this process. The wireframes are impacted by the initial assumptions and hypotheses and can be easily traced back. And, solid research is key to clarity during the design phase.