Zomato claims to be “a ridiculously easy way to discover new places to eat and drink when you are bored of all your usual haunts.” Essentially, it helps everyone discover the newest, best and most recommended restaurants around the metro. It serves as a platform that allows you to:
- Share your personal experiences;
- Contribute and view restaurant reviews;
- Read, like and comment on posted reviews;
- Find favorite restaurants and add them to your wishlist;
- Mark restaurants visited; and
- Be part of the community
In the Philippines, Zomato has been covering many establishments in Metro Manila since March 2013. I’m not sure when it will start conquering other large and prominent places in the country, such as Davao, Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, etc.
Anyway, this post is an entry to Zomato’s Blog Your Feedback Contest. As I had posted my two cents about the Zomato website previously, let me share with you my thoughts about Zomato’s mobile application (iOS) this time. Here’s my feedback on the Zomato mobile application – likes and dislikes:
1. Extremely Attractive Interface
Red is no doubt and no question an attractive color. In most occasions, it is recognized as one that provokes hunger and sets in the mood for eating. That’s why many restaurants paint their walls red and some even use it as one of the colors included in their logos (read: branding strategy). According to color psychology, red can be used for portraying passion, excitement, and attention for businesses; it can bring enthusiasm to the brand.
Zomato’s mobile app interface presents a red-black-white color scheme which successfully maintains a strong visual appeal without being too overpowering to distract the user’s eyes.
2. Very Easy to Use
The Zomato mobile app is very useful if you are a food aficionado who’s most of the time away from your keyboard. After registering for an account or signing in an account, Zomato lets you quickly view and search for restaurants by entering keyword (name, location, cuisine or dish) or by selecting a location (for dine-in, to-go or home delivery) as it asks this simple question: “What do you want to do?” in the first tab.
Yeah, it’s simple, but a lot of people don’t know the answer to this question. For this example, I entered “Bodhi,” the name of our all-time favorite vegetarian restaurant. The results showed all the existing branches of Bodhi, a short excerpt of their reviews and their ratings.
Furthermore, the second tab allows you to view all nearby restaurants. What it does is, you guessed it, points out places near the user’s location. You just have to make sure that the location services of your smartphone are turned ON to be able to use this feature. You can filter results according to location, cuisine, budget, etc. or sort them according to rating and popularity.
The third tab enables users to write a review and/or upload a photo of the dish they tried or restaurant they visited. After clicking on the “Write a Review” button, the next screen first asks the user to select a restaurant to review via the search function (also with location services). For uploading of photos, users can either take a photo and instantly upload it to Zomato in one tap or choose from the Image Gallery to share photo/s. This is very Instagram-like, I think, but without the filters. When you snap a photo, the app quickly determines where you are! Genius. 😀
The fourth tab offers a sneak peak on the featured content in the city chosen: Top 25 Restaurants, Foodie Leaderboard, and Featured Reviews. I think that the idea of choosing and sharing these features to the public is excellent because it allows many businesses to produce more scrumptious food and provide better customer service. At the same time, these encourage Zomato users to post their dining experiences, earn points and make it to the leaderboard and help the larger community decide which restaurants to try next.
The last tab shows the user’s profile containing the basic information, list of bookmarked restaurants, network (followers and users being followed), reviews and photos posted. Here’s mine:
You don’t need a user’s manual to figure all these, right? Told you. Usability is easy peasy! 😉
3. Increased Accessibility
Aside from the Location Services function which lists the nearby restaurants in your area, what I like about the Zomato mobile app is its extensive basic information. We know that reviews and photos are generated and contributed by the users. But all others are provided by the Zomato team. They go door to door to take photos of the menus they visit and know every info now published in every restaurant entry. Two things I find most helpful are: the navigational map and the contact feature.
Why? I would like to emphasize the word “mobile” in “mobile application.” Accessibility for users on the go is very crucial. Through the Zomato app, unlike the website, users can immediately call the restaurant to book for a reservation or ask any question in one tap. Also, the map is not just a static picture but it’s an interactive element where users can navigate and zoom the streets around and see directions on how to land at the destination.
Dislikes (or should I say, “Things that Zomato Should Improve On”)
1. No Rating of Dishes / No Tracking of Favorite Food
The food, aside from service, ambiance and price for value, to my rating system, are what makes or breaks the restaurant. One dish cannot really be the yardstick of a restaurant’s overall rating. And sometimes it’s not the name of restaurant that’s being remembered but the quality and tastes of their dishes, the stars that make the restaurant shine!
So aside from rating the restaurants, it’s also good to keep track of the dishes that have been tried by users and let them (at least the signature dishes) be rated or voted up. The ratings on the dishes would serve as a recommendation from the users or a warning for others not to make the mistake or ordering the same dish again.
2. No “Randomizer” Functionality for Restaurants and Food
I’m not sure if the “You decide” problem is only true for my circle of friends or is a common phenomenon now. Well, let’s see here.
Whenever you’re in a group and you have to eat a meal together, don’t you always have this problem of deciding where to eat? Everyone would say “You decide” or in local Filipino terms we say, “Ikaw bahala (You take charge)” or “Kahit saan (Anywhere).” If yes, then I guess I’m not alone.
There are many things to take into consideration, that’s why. In most cases, you would all agree on a restaurant if it’s something new that the group has not tried before, if they have a specialty you yet have to try, if it has been featured in a lot of blogs or websites, etc. Still, it takes time to filter out all options.
Yes, Zomato mobile application’s “Nearby Restaurants” facility can offer help and suggestions. Nevertheless, the group has to make that BIG decision. If only the app is equipped with the “Randomizer” functionality, it will be a lot easier for everyone to find a restaurant and randomly choose from the list of nearby selections. This functionality should still give users the chance to filter the cuisine, price range, etc. before activating the randomizer.
It can be like a slot machine-esque method that can maybe produce the top 3 suggested restaurants randomly for the user either via tapping on the screen or shaking the device. It can also be a spin a wheel kind of thing where the arrow determines the restaurant.
What would be more interesting is that after choosing the random result and actually going into the restaurant, the Zomato app could let the user randomly select items on the menu (or at least choose from the signature dishes). This is because the next problem that prompts diners is “What to eat?” And usually, answers are again, “You decide / Ikaw bahala” or “Anything / Kahit ano.“
If there are no reviews posted yet on Zomato for that branch of restaurant, then they can use the randomizer again but this time to get random suggestions from the app. A creative way of choosing random food items on the menu is to have the users “scratch off” the menu posted on Zomato and order whatever is revealed first or keep on scratching until they are satisfied with the output.
In sum, the Randomizer functionality could possibly solve the $100 questions: “Where to eat?” and “What to eat?”
3. No “Save Offline Data” Option / Synchronization to Offline Database
Let’s face it. Wi-Fi Internet connection here in the Philippines is a hit or miss, to say the least. Finding hotspots that have free Wi-Fi is a struggle; therefore, you cannot use Zomato app anyhow to search for restaurants nearby. If you are connected to 3G, it would take several minutes before you get a trusted fast connection.
I know that saving offline data in an app would eat up a lot of memory space. But I didn’t say ALL data. It could just be your favorited restaurants or restaurants in your wishlist because these are most probably the ones you will be heading to next (and you want the information to be saved before going to keep yourself guided). After some time, it will be good also if users can reset the saved data to free up the used memory space.
The data to be cached can be limited to the map, where users can select and download a specific area on the map to locate the restaurant using familiar streets; contact number, for users to call the restaurant without having to copy and paste the number to their phone books; and of course, the address of the branch. I think all these would be beneficial for users who are not subscribed to mobile data plan and those who are connected to poor reception (unfortunately).
So on a click of a sync button in the Zomato mobile app, the server data must be downloaded and inserted in the local / offline database and modify the existing data stored locally in the app. Then the data must be synced to the server to download fresh data in the device. As a techie person myself, I know that SQLite lives in every iPhone, so you only have to create a database and call it. Data can be re-downloaded and it should be stored in the cache directories and purged on memory distress. 😀
You’ve just reached the end of my feedback on the Zomato mobile app. I hope that reading this article has been worth your time. 🙂
If you’re a food blogger, a food enthusiast, a foodie or just a regular person who, like Zomato describes, “bored of all your usual haunts,” then check this Zomato app out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments! 😀 Tap, snap and share the trendiest new treats on the culinary circuit. We can follow each other on Zomato, become “food critics” and have fun in sharing our favorite dishes and restaurants with others. 😛