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Eat Blue

Final Report

Shelby Lewin Jenna Werner Jeremy Kaplan Talia Knobel Jorge Viramontes

December 10, 2013

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Table of Contents

 

Executive Summary

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Background Information

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Methods

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Competitive Analysis

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Interviews

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Usability Test

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Findings

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Competitive Analysis

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Interviews

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Usability Test

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Short-Term

Recommendations

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Increased the Font Size

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Eliminate Secondary Scrolling Section to View Menus

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Increased Consistency

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Long-Term Recommendations

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Search Bar

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Redirect Marketing Strategy

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Streamline Site Layout/Add

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Appendix

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Table A: Website Inventory Table

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Table B: Aesthetics

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Table C: Ease of Use Table

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Image A: EatBlue Banner

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Image C: Current EatBlue: Restaurant Directory

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Image D: Current EatBlue: Filter Option

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Image E: GrubHub Filter Option and Search

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Image F: Seamless Filter Option

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Image G: Straigh2YourDoor Filter

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List A: Usability Scenarios/Task Based Questions

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Executive Summary

Eatblue.com serves as an online food-ordering guide and as a restaurant directory for local Ann Arbor restaurants. Currently, students have the ability to perform a multitude of tasks through EatBlue. Users of the site can browse through many available restaurants in Ann Arbor, and can place orders through EatBlue’s interface. Users can choose whether they wish to use the site for dining-in, delivery, or take-out orders. As a part of this process, students can also receive detailed information about local Ann Arbor restaurants such as the restaurant’s menu, hours of operations, address, phone number, and accepted methods of payment.

EatBlue’s intended audience is college students attending the University of Michigan, although it also appeals to local Ann Arbor residents. In order to assess EatBlue’s strengths and weaknesses, we performed various tasks. The first was a competitive analysis between EatBlue and its top competitors, where we discovered the most effective features across all four sites. Secondly, we performed multiple interviews on diverse students who matched the personas we believe to exist at the University of Michigan. Lastly, we developed a usability test plan and conducted these tests on students with varying levels of experience with EatBlue in order to assess how they navigated the site.

These three strategies led us to findings about the site and how it is used. We narrowed down our findings to the most successful features of the site, as well as features that could benefit from improving. Some successful features we found include the site’s Michigan-oriented theme, the site’s inviting and aesthetically pleasing home page, the “Daily Steal” and “$3 Thursday” features, and the option to view restaurant categories by food-type. Other features we found that could use improvement are the site’s general layout, the search method, and the focused target audience.

In order to address these issues, we laid out a series of short-term and long- term recommendations for EatBlue. For the short-term, we recommended that EatBue increase their font size to make the site more accessible, eliminate the scrolling feature on menus in order to improve the site’s usability, and increase the general consistency of the site. For long-term recommendations, we suggested that EatBlue include a search bar to improve the search method, redirect the marketing strategy by addressing a different specified audience, and change the layout to include a filter, which will improve the ease of navigation on the site.

We believe these recommendations will improve EatBlue’s usability, draw more users to the site, gain a more engaged audience, and maintain students as loyal users.

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Background Information

EatBlue is an online food-ordering service founded in Ann Arbor. The website targets University of Michigan students, as well as Ann Arbor residents. Many people think of EatBlue only as a service for ordering food – but it offers much more than that. Users can look up various restaurants, receive discounts, and order food from restaurants within the Ann Arbor area. Restaurants benefit from Eatblue through publicity by offering online ordering and special deals through the website, and EatBlue takes a commission from orders. We have found that a supplemental functionality that many users actually perform is finding and browsing menus of these restaurants, rather than ordering directly from the site. EatBlue offers many other features, such as the categorization of restaurants by type of food they serve and even meal plans available for students. EatBlue is one of several food-ordering websites that serve the Ann Arbor area. GrubHub, Seamless and Straigh2YourDoor are some of its competitors.

Methods

We used many methods to analyze EatBlue, its features, and its reception by its users. This helped us greatly in preparing recommendations for the site based off of features its competitors offer, features users would like to see implemented, and even features users currently have difficulty using. Additionally, these methods gave us a chance to learn about EatBlue’s audience (both intended and actual).

Competitive Analysis

We completed a competitive analysis to compare features of various delivery sites, which include GrubHub, Seamless, Straight2YourDoor, and EatBlue. This helped us to see the best implementation of features that are common throughout the four sites. It also helped us discover which features EatBlue’s competitors had that EatBlue would benefit from including on their site. The aesthetics and ease of use of the four websites were also taken into consideration and were analyzed to see which attributes worked best to provide a positive experience for the users.

Interviews

We conducted interviews with University of Michigan students, who make up EatBlue’s target audience, making sure to cover a range of demographics (such

as different genders and ages). Among other findings, this helped us to see:

  • - If and how students use EatBlue

  • - What they like and don’t like about the site

  • - Any suggestions they may have for the site

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Usability Test

We designed a usability test around EatBlue and conducted it with various participants to determine the usability of the site. This enabled us to produce suggestions for improvement of the product, as well as to pinpoint its best attributes based off users’ interactions with the site while performing tasks. Our task list can be found in the Appendix. See List A in Appendix

We designed the usability test to target key functionalities that we believe are most commonly used on the site, based on the information we gathered through our interviews. We tested these functionalities to see if they were easy to use for the average user of the site, or if they should be changed.

We measured how long it took each participant to complete each task in order to compare the times of the various participants. This helped us to see if there was a general time frame for how long it took to complete certain tasks on the site, or if there were large discrepancies due to differences in knowledge or experience. In our entrance questionnaire, we took note of the users’ demographics and usage of the product in order to get a better feel for who they were and how they use the site. Additionally, in our exit questionnaire, we asked them what their impressions were of the site, and their opinions of how it was structured now and how it might be structured in the future.

Findings

From our competitive analysis, interviews, and usability tests, we compiled our findings to discover EatBlue’s strengths and weaknesses.

Competitive Analysis

EatBlue shares many features with GrubHub, Seamless, and Straigh2YourDoor.

All four restaurants include information about each restaurant’s name, address, phone number and website. Each site also features the ability to order online from the many restaurants that they partner with and the ability to have the food delivered. Beyond these features, the four sites differ. See Table A in Appendix

EatBlue is consistent across the entire website with its fonts, colors, and layouts; however, it is not the most aesthetically pleasing of the four different websites. Eatblue has been perceived to be overwhelming due to its over usage of pictures, and its design makes it difficult to distinguish what is text and what is a hyperlink. At the same time, EatBlue’s homepage is laid out in two different rows, which makes it easy for the user to view the popular restaurants and current deals. See Table B in Appendix

Each site has a visually aesthetic banner that appears on the top of every page, with the websites logo. EatBlue’s banner includes a navigation menu with tabs that link to the website’s portal pages. As apparent in the screenshot below,

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EatBlue’s banner allows users to quickly access the Delivery, Takeout, Dine In, Catering, Weekly Special, Order Online and The Daily Steal pages. However, other competitive sites include more features within their banners. GrubHub’s

banner, for example, includes the site’s search bar. This streamlines the browsing process by providing an efficient method to navigate the lists of restaurants, which saves users a significant amount of time. See Images A and B in Appendix

Although EatBlue has a lot to offer, the site itself is difficult to use. Since the website was designed for college students who tend to be constantly in a hurry, the site’s usability is imperative. EatBlue’s website is consistent throughout and the tabs are logically placed; yet, it is apparent that the site is out of date. In comparison to competitors’ websites, it is evident that EatBlue has not been recently changed to meet the user’s needs. The most pertinent difference between EatBlue and its competitors is its lack of a search bar. On all other sites, the search bar is makes it extremely easy for the user to find what they are looking for, which positively affects the sites overall efficiency and usability. See Table C in Appendix

EatBlue has a lot of unique features that set it apart from its competitors, one of them being its meal plan. As a marketing technique, EatBlue offers a meal plan to students of any age. The Eat Blue Meal Plan is flexible and allows students to eat at a wide variety of close-to-campus restaurants. The students can use these meals at any of Eat Blue’s restaurants around campus for dining in, pick up or delivery service. Another feature that is unique to EatBlue is its target audience; EatBlue does a great job of reinforcing its Michigan-oriented theme with its layout and maize-and-blue color scheme. This strategy makes EatBlue.com a unique food delivery company because it draws in University of Michigan students and encourages them to use their site over competitors’ sites.

Interviews

We interviewed four University of Michigan students about EatBlue to learn more about how it is used and who it is mainly used by. Subject 1 is a female junior who lives in her sorority house, Subject 2 is a male junior who lives in an apartment, Subject 3 is a male senior transfer student who lives in an apartment, and Subject 4 is a female sophomore who lives in an apartment. We found that most of these participants eat out approximately three to four times each week, but this number varied depending on where they lived (dorm, apartment, house, sorority/frat house, other) because certain housing options provide meal plans, while others leave residents to cook for themselves. Additionally, we found that the Subjects had different favorite restaurants on campus, from a wide range of areas as well as at varying price points.

The participants in our interviews used the website for different tasks - some used the product mainly for its intended purpose (ordering food online from

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different Ann Arbor restaurants), while others used it simply to figure out where they wanted to order from, but would place the order on their own through different means. The latter users would go to the website to search through the different categories of restaurants in order to see what their different options were.

The specials offered by the website are what attract many of EatBlue’s users. Based on our findings, without these deals, there would not be as much of an incentive for EatBlue users to order through the website; they would instead call the restaurants individually. While it is still more convenient to place orders through the website, many students do not realize this benefit, and it seems to us that the deals are what are compelling them. In fact, Subject 2 told us: “If EatBlue offers deals at my favorite restaurants, I always orders from them.” Some deals EatBlue offers includes: a 25% off all orders for one week, $3 Thursday specials, and “Study Buddy” deals for different restaurants during final exams. This shows that EatBlue is marketing itself towards students who may have a tight budget and will want to take advantage of its offers.

The interviewees who were familiar with the product gave us some useful feedback on its features, aesthetics, and usability. We discovered a critical issue from two of our participants during our research, which revolved around the way the site displayed menus for different restaurants. Subject 2 was particularly dissatisfied with how the site dealt with restaurants that aren’t capable of online ordering. He spoke about an experience when he tried to order from one of these restaurants, and was re-directed to an alternative delivery service called Mr. Delivery. Subject 4 had a different problem concerning menus; she was bothered by the inconsistent way menus are presented on EatBlue. She noted that sometimes the user must scroll through multiple pages in a menu, while other times the entire menu is presented as a single image.

Usability Test

We found in our usability testing that only people who frequently use EatBlue really understood how it worked and were able to complete the tasks we gave them, while those who were unfamiliar with the site had much more trouble doing so. However, even those who were experienced users still faced difficulties due to the design of the site.

One common difficulty that our participants experienced was in finding specific restaurants. We believe that this is due to the lack of a search function on the site. There is no place where a user can type in a restaurant name in order to find the information on that restaurant. Rather, users must find the restaurant by searching through the various categories, or find the illusive “Restaurant Directory” link, hidden in small text in the top corner of the screen, in order to find this restaurant’s page.

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Additionally, EatBlue assumes that all of its users will have a basic knowledge of which restaurants fall under the various categories of food. This is not always intuitive, especially if the user is not a student, or is a new student who does not yet know what food options are available to them. Because of this invalid assumption, the site is not designed for users who do not have much knowledge of the Ann Arbor area, which limits the site’s audience.

Across the board, we found that users had a lot of difficulty with the way many of the restaurants’ pages were formatted. On many of these pages, there is a secondary scrolling section within the main window, where users are instructed to “Scroll to View Full Menu”. Even tech-savvy participants in our usability tests were often unable to understand what this meant in order to actually get it to work properly.

The weekly specials are prominent on the site, and we found that they were easily located by many of our participants. This is great for the site, because weekly specials are important to EatBlue and therefore should be accessible to all of the site’s users. Our participants had a fairly easy time with the task focused on the weekly specials, which is indicative of the larger audience’s ability to do so.

We found that while the site does have a learning curve, once users are familiar with the site they are likely to have a much easier time using it. For example, in one of our usability tests, the participant was unable to complete the first task until she saw an alternative way to access the desired information while completing a more complex task later on in the test. Therefore, we concluded that new users may experience trouble at first, but will gradually start to understand how the site works once they perform more types of activities.

Short-Term Recommendations

We have created a list of short-term recommendations that we feel would benefit EatBlue based off of our findings from our methods.

Increased the Font Size

Much of our research indicated that users would benefit from and appreciate a larger font size throughout the site. Even important links and information on the site are displayed with small text, which makes it hard to notice even these essential factors. Increasing font size would help the ease of use of EatBlue, and therefore increase traffic to the site as well.

Eliminate Secondary Scrolling Section to View Menus

The secondary scrolling sections found on many of the restaurant’s pages was a major drawback during usability testing, as it prohibited users from completing many of our different tasks. Viewing menus is a major component of the site, as it is essential in food ordering online, and so this would be a great improvement for the site to work on as soon as possible. If a user goes onto the

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website to order food, but cannot view the restaurants’ menus, they will be unable to fulfill their reason for coming to the site. This will likely prevent them from using the site again, which detracts from the site’s overall traffic and usage.

Increased Consistency

EatBlue should work to improve the consistency of all features and layouts as it would be easier for users to navigate and understand the site as a whole. We found that the variation between different pages was confusing for many of the site’s users, and deterred them from using the site overall. If EatBlue were to strive to improve the consistency between all components of the site, it would be more cohesive and easier to use.

Long-Term Recommendations

We have created a list of long-term recommendations that we feel would benefit EatBlue based off of our findings from our methods.

Search Bar

The addition of a search bar is very important to EatBlue in that it would help to streamline the browsing process by providing a method to navigate the lists of restaurants and saving the users significant amounts of time. In our competitive analysis, EatBlue was the only site of the four that did not have a search bar available for its users. The search bar that EatBlue should design should be accessible from anywhere on the site, so users can search for a restaurant at any time during their browsing.

Currently, The only method that EatBlue offers for searching restaurants is by name within the Restaurant Directory. From the restaurant directory, users can then click the restaurant’s name and then access their menu, delivery options and special deals. Through search boxes and filters, EatBlue’s competitors have more advanced methods that allow users to easily access restaurants quicker. We have included screenshots of GrubHub, where the

search bar is easily visible at the top of each of the pages. See Images B and E in Appendix.

Generally, search bars are the most efficient way for users to browse any site, by helping them find exactly what they are looking for. They are important to any e-commerce site; on sites such as Amazon, users would be lost without a search option due to the large volume of products they carry. EatBlue’s lack of a search bar could be contributing to lower site traffic numbers than they would experience with the addition of a search bar.

Redirect Marketing Strategy

Our interview analysis led us to our finding that EatBlue should change their target audience from University of Michigan underclassmen to University of

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Michigan upperclassmen. This change is important because it would help EatBlue redirect their marketing strategy and draw in more business.

Underclassmen are an important part of EatBlue’s audience as well, as they are new to Ann Arbor and are not yet familiar with the restaurants that are available to them to order from. Therefore, EatBlue is important in introducing them to these restaurants initially. However, these underclassmen have meal plans, and are not as likely to order food from restaurants on a very consistent basis.

Our interviews showed that upperclassmen, who are living on their own for the first time, and no longer have a meal plan, are required to provide their own meals, and would likely be very willing to order food on a regular basis. This is especially true, we found, if they were given easy access to information regarding deals being offered, which EatBlue already does a good job of in regards to underclassmen. Now, all they have to do is switch their target audience and make this information very easily accessible to upperclassmen rather than underclassmen.

One aspect of EatBlue’s marketing technique that we think should be maintained is its Michigan-oriented theme. From our interviews, we gathered that the site’s tailored theme to University of Michigan students through its maize-and-blue color scheme has a very positive effect on students who use the site.

Streamline Site Layout/Add Filter

Currently, the site is set up so that users can choose from various headings in the navigation bar that mostly lead to the same page with a confusing layout. The headings that users choose from include “Delivery”, “Takeout”, and “Dine In”. However, these headings don’t lead to different restaurants lists, but rather to a page with a “Category Listing” on the side the categories are not only types of restaurants, but also break down the restaurants by their type of delivery, their involvement in the EatBlue meal plan, or other random types of non-cohesive categories. See Image D in Appendix.

Instead, we believe that the site should be streamlined – these headings should be eliminated, and instead users should be initially brought to a page where they can search for a specific type of food, and then should able to narrow down their search results with a filter. We have created a sample filter that can be used on the webpage. See Image H in Appendix. This has been created by analyzing filters that are already in place on EatBlue’s competitors’ sites, such as GrubHub, Seamless, and Straight2YourDoor. See Images E, F, and G in Appendix. We believe that this change would dramatically increase business for EatBlue by reducing ambiguity when streamlining the entire site.

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One aspect of the site’s layout that we believe should be maintained is the option to view restaurant categories by food-type. Based on our interviews, we discovered that many students use the site to browse for inspiration on what type of food to eat, and will end up consequently ordering through the site. Thus, having this option available will continue to bring success to the site.

Appendix

Table A: Website Inventory Table

Feature

EatBlue

GrubHub

Seamless

Straight2YourDoor

The overall

       

website

contains

… delivery

service

… takeout

 

service

… catering

     

… restaurant

 

reviews

… dine in specials

     

… daily specials

     

… weekly

     

specials

… online

ordering

… a personal profile/account

 

… gift

 

 

certificates

… FAQs section

 

… the

restaurant’s

name, address,

       

phone number

and website.

… food blog

     

… meal plan

     

The webpage

       

for allows

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users to…

       

… browse all restaurants by city and zip code

 

… browse all restaurants by cuisine

 

 

… write reviews based on previous experience at restaurants

     

The site allows users to filter restaurants based on different features (see Ease of Use for more details)

 

Table B: Aesthetics Table

 

Feature

EatBlue

GrubHub

Seamless

Straight2YourDoor

Clean and easy to read text

Graphics on

every page

Logos for different restaurants along with text

Descriptive

 

links

Banner on

every page

Consist layout page to page

Misleading

       

advertisements

Consistent font family on every page

 

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Overall, clean and easy to navigate

 

 

Site is

     

organized into

different

 

columns

Table C: Ease of Use Table

 

Feature

EatBlue

GrubHub

Seamless

Straight2YourDoor

Search bar

 

Consistency

between

everyplace

       

Links logically

placed

Restaurants

       

are

searchable

by…

… cuisine

 

 

… name

 

 

… price

 

 

… average user rating

 

 

… current deal

   

 

Image A: EatBlue Banner

13 Overall, clean and easy to navigate ✔ ✔ Site is ✔ organized into different columns

Image B: GrubHub Banner

13 Overall, clean and easy to navigate ✔ ✔ Site is ✔ organized into different columns

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Image C: Current EatBlue: Restaurant Directory

14 Image C: Current EatBlue: Restaurant Directory

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Image D: Current EatBlue: Filter Option

15 Image D: Current EatBlue: Filter Option

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Image E: GrubHub Filter Option and Search Box.

16 Image E: GrubHub Filter Option and Search Box. Image F: Seamless Filter Option

Image F: Seamless Filter Option

16 Image E: GrubHub Filter Option and Search Box. Image F: Seamless Filter Option

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Image G: Straigh2YourDoor Filter Option.

17 Image G: Straigh2YourDoor Filter Option.

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Image H: Proposed Filter

18 Image H: Proposed Filter

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List A: Usability Scenarios/Task Based Questions

  • 1. From the homepage, view the menu for Miki Sushi

  • 2. From the homepage, name the weekly specials for Pita Pit

  • 3. From the homepage, find the store hours for Ali Baba’s Middle Eastern Cuisine

  • 4. From the homepage, check the minimum delivery amount for Mister Spot’s

  • 5. From the homepage, add a late night special from Pizza House (Cheesy Breadsticks with a chocolate chip milkshake) to your cart

  • 6. From the homepage, check to see if Potbelly’s is included in the EatBlue meal plan. Check to see if they support delivery