A couple of months ago, I helped organize an event talking about The Innovators of Gastronomy. The event was led by Trevor Rose-Hamblin, the General Manager of iNG restaurant. Trevor discussed iNG’s innovative technologies in the kitchen and at the front counter, creations of unique user experience, and their sustainability efforts. When I left the event, I was very inspired and started to think about what user experience designers could learn from the design of restaurant experiences. Besides the food, restaurants must create the mood they want to set and determine the quality of service they want to provide. This comparison provides an interesting way to think about UX web design.
So why do people dine out?
According to the National Restaurant Association, 41% of adults say dining out is “essential” to their lifestyle. People dine out to have enjoyable experiences they can’t have at home. People dine out so they can eat something they wouldn’t eat at home. Eating is associated with social interaction, which means it’s fun and people can talk about the experience later. That said, it’s important for restaurants to understand and foresee their customer’s needs to create a balance between being overly accommodating versus neglecting their customers. In the same way, UX designers need to know a website’s customers and design for their needs. Designers must choose the limit of the content available so that questions are answered and the users aren’t overwhelmed.
How are the two experiences similar?
When you go into a restaurant you’re trusting that it’s clean, the food you order won’t make you sick, and you will be satisfied with the experience. It is important to produce great looking dishes that “look good” on a plate. Most importantly, the food must also be served at the right temperature and taste good. Lacking in one area or both can turn off the customer’s experience and they won’t be satisfied. Therefore, they won’t come back. When you visit a website, you’re trusting that it has answers to your questions, you will find them in a quick time frame, and that they are correct. A website can be designed to visually look appealing. But if the navigation and site architecture aren’t intuitive, the number of question marks will grow and it will make it harder for users to comprehend how the system works and how to get from point A to point B. A clear structure, balanced visual clues and easily recognizable links can help users find their path quickly and not waste their time.
What experiences do they both provide?
The two experiences both provide help. They have to be accessible when needed, be responsive, and provide value. Providing value seems to be the most important. It doesn’t matter how much you are spending on a meal, you want the experience of that meal to be valuable. That is the key to ensure you will come back more than once, have more great experiences or recommend the restaurant to friends. This does not differ for a website. It needs to provide a beautiful design and a good user experience. The user will continue to come back and recommend the website to friends.
Next time you dine out, will you think about user experience design?