eatsa was an automated restaurant startup in San Francisco and NYC. We served prepared and custom healthy quinoa bowls for under $10 per meal (excluding customizations). The experience revolved around mobile ordering, ordering on an in-store kiosk and an exciting display of an animated cubby wall, building anticipation and personalized delight when you're food is ready.
I joined the eatsa team as the second designer. I had really loved their design from the start, but what got me most excited was the amount of opportunity there was to help the product scale and grow into something a little bit more sophisticated while keeping the current charm.
Joining the team I knew that the meal customization experience was one of the biggest opportunities for improvement.
"We need a full re-vamp of our build-a-bowl and customization experience"
In 2013 the kiosk ordering system went through a bit of a facelift. What that meant for customizing a bowl was going from a design that customers had a hard time with to something incrementally better, but still sharing similar flaws.
Customers were confused how to remove things from their cart, where to find certain ingredients, and how to easily learn more about each. Nutrition was a completely separate screen where you had to search just to find an ingredient you were looking for. Knowing it was a rather big undertaking for the company, I wanted to provide a small first step to help alleviate some of the customer pain quickly so we could move on to the full refresh. I jumped in and designed a stop gap solution to give us some time to truly experiment.
A simple +/- interaction allowed for clear count and more customization options of what's in your bowl, and tapping on an ingredient would give you a focused view of nutrition. This was enough to give us enough time to really dive in.
During the same we found out that we'd be productionizing and selling our software, meaning that we have to support a huge number of variables. We kicked off the project by doing a deep dive on a variety of menu sizes, comparing the organization and customization options available at large and small fast casual restaurants, including coffee shops.
We began with a series of wireframes, testing out different selection methods and different information hierarchy's.
We started slowly evolving from what we had previously. We developed guiding principles for what we wanted out of the project, and put in place clear constraints and robust scalability demands that gave us the tools to pick a direction early in the process. After various rounds of user testing, it was clear that a photography centric approach allowed customers to browse and find what they're looking for as quickly as possible. We knew we had to support a huge variety of menu sections and ingredients, so we balanced density with large tap targets and clear navigation.
We initially struggled to find the correct balance between listing out what's in your bowl, showing nutritional information and navigating between categories. One of the biggest breakthroughs with this project was to use the list of what's in your bowl to combine with navigation, easily jumping around and seeing different quantities just by tapping on your 'virtual receipt'.
Clear goals started to lead us down a clear path, and the framework we were starting to zero in on provided for additional messaging space and areas for flexibility in the future.
After another round of user testing, we began to really settle in on a very functional and beautiful design. Photography forward, progressive disclosure, and a clever navigation method really allowed this design to take shape. It was easy to find areas for moments of delight and polish, and the work overall was greeting with excitement from customers. They loved how clear it was to add or remove an ingredient with an exact count visible. They loved how visual the display was, and how quick it was to jump around and find what they were looking for. They had an endless scrolling option instead of having to tap to jump between categories, and had a much better time finding the nutritional information they were looking for. The design was dynamic, engaging and much simpler.
This project was a huge success on all fronts.