When I think of redesigning an application, I have 3 questions in mind that will save me from going off the rails and losing the corporate identity of the product.
First question. “How far are we gonna break the pattern?”
The perspective is to make a positive UX impact without giving the jolt to the users, we don’t want them to use the app once the new design is up and be like, “WOAH! I DON’T KNOW YOU ANYMORE, YELP.”
Second question. Solving the problem is a must, but the second question I keep in mind is “How can it be done better?”
Third question. “Will the users be able to and willing to learn the new pattern and quickly?“
We might get trapped in the thinking that old users might be more willing or able to adjust themselves with the new design better/faster than the new users. But there is no guarantee.
Old users have built their habit, it is expensive to break that without providing satisfying incentives (more friendly interface, better experience and appealing UI).
New users need the interface to be as simple and open as possible. It takes time to build their trust and instill a sense of addiction to our app. But they would certainly avoid clutter at all cost. They don’t want to be stuck in the wilderness of information that they are still learning to navigate through. Do not design an app that can aggravate users’ virtual claustrophobia.
Three Essential Characteristics for a Successful Makeover
1. Intuitive. The design should be able to make life easier without trying too hard, meaning no redundant and counterintuitive features. An intuitive design makes users feel good about themselves, they see the smart and sexy version of themselves when using the app.
2. Unobtrusive. The changes have to be impactful but subtle.
3. Useful. Every click, every page, every link has to have purpose and is made to solve problems right there, right then. Don’t wait until the next page to show the answer/result. Keep in mind that mobile users are known to be easily distracted and less patient.
What to Improve
So, without further ado. Here is the list of areas on current Yelp design that I personally think need some improvement :
1. Too many subcategories that are unnecessarily grouped/divided in different pages.
2. Redundant options/links.
3. Where things are placed.
Some sections seem to make more sense to be placed in different areas. For our use case, we are gonna explore the ‘Recently Viewed.’ This section might be more meaningful and useful if it is in the Nearby section which happened to be the landing page, instead of being smack bang in the middle of More page, barely noticeable. The rationale is that users might check a Yelp profile of some place more than once before they actually decide to go or arrive at the location. It feels right to have this menu shows up right when they just re-open the app.
The Changes I Proposed Are
- Personalize the presentation by greeting the user while subtly informing them what to expect from the page they are currently on (“Hi User, check out these places near you…”).
- Menus to be placed on much more apparent/common places and yes, that means I am not using the Path-like button that pushes out three menus : Review, Camera and Check-Ins. I know it’s cute and trendy, but I’d go with straight forward design, because Yelp is already information heavy and a lot of actions will take a few more layers of thinking, it is best to keep it open, clean, intuitive and simple.
- Putting the popular categories section on the front page instead of dividing it in two separate pages like how it is now.
- Displaying ‘Recently Viewed’ places on the landing page.
User Profile (Message Section)
This way, the users will be able to peek into the content of each menu without having to scroll down at all. Replacing vertical listing with horizontal scrollable navigation can also minimize content and section clutter.