App Review : Foodspotting

On: October 9, 2011
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About Mario Gesteira
I have graduated in product design in Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. I've moved to Amsterdam to study New Media.

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http://umnaturaldeamsterdam.wordpress.com/    

When you are in a unknown neighborhood and it is time to eat, it can be hard some times to find a good place to grab a bite. Thinking of that the developers of Foodspotting created an easy way for people to find and recommend the best dishes they could find around. It is a food centered social network where people can share the good dishes they find around and look for others indications.

Looking

The app has a very intuitive interface with two options one with pictures of the dishes, and another with the user position on a map and pins in each spot with the dishes.

figure 1

In the first one (figure 1), you can filter the options that shows up on the screen by distance from the point where your are, by the latest posts and for the better ranked ones. You navigate across the pictures just scrolling to the side by dragging. In the dish picture you can already find some information about it, like how people have rated it, the name of the dish, the restaurant where it was found and something else according to the how you filtered the dishes.

In the second, you see a regular google maps with your position marked and a red pin for each spot in the app’s database. If you click on a red pin, a pop up with the name of the dish and the place appears, and you can click on it.

When you click on the picture or the pop up on the map you have access to another screen where you can access more information about the dish.You can see a bigger image of the picture, which user has posted it, when it was posted, where is it location on the map and you have the option to look for similar dishes. In this screen you also can add information about the dish, like comments, add pictures, email the review for a friend or flag the review (this is for abusive use of the community control). And last but not least, in the bottom of the screen you see 4 icons which you can use to put the dish on your wishlist, give it a medal and congratulate the user that posted it by his picture or finding.

There are also many expert guides that you can access from the app and look for what are their indications, than you can add your own pictures after you visit the places. And you have the option to follow your own friends, and for that you can use your Facebook, twitter and you phone`s contact list to find them, you can choose to follow a specific place, and every time someone post a new dish from that place it will appear for you, or you can follow a dish.

Recommending

The database is user generated, that means that any user can add new dishes to it at any time, and the system can always be increased and becomes more and more complete and precise over the time. It has versions for IOS, Android, Windows and for the web. Because it is multi-platform its community can grown through all the different systems making it not a barrier for one joining.

When recommending you have to take a picture of the dish or use a picture from your library. Than add the name of the place where you ate it, for this step you can check a list of the registered places in the database and choose if yours is already there. After that you add the name of the dish, checking also a registered list for that place. And the last step is to add some comment for the dish, give it a medal and share it in Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or Flickr.

The app works as a platform inside which the community grows and creates the content. What is interesting for people and attracts more users for this network is the content generated by the older users. So as the community increases by size and generates more and more information, the system becomes more precise and than more attractive for the outsiders to get onboard.

In an interview, the founder of Foodspotting, Alexa Andrzejewski, talks about the difficulties of finding a programmer to develop the app, and how that 6 months period without a developer was important for the concept and working on designing the experience she wanted to provide the user.

In the same interview she said that she tried to monetize the app by making partnerships with guides and specialized magazines.

“So our revenue model is eventually we want to create ways for restaurants that are just as easy – so what we’ve done for users is we’ve made it really easy to submit content. We want to make it just as easy for restaurant owners to post specials and to create these frequent customer cards by becoming members of Foodspotting. Things we’re considering, paid memberships for restaurants or other things the restaurants can pay for.”

Interview from Alexa Andrzejewski for the StartupAngel blog

Actually the app became so famous and useful that you can find even recommendations for restaurants on how to use it to attract clients, and how to stimulate the customers to post about these places.

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