DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
TQ : Leveraging an existing way people use to find good restaurants and services to a digital platform. Social media was a rocketing trend, but very few products were able to keep users engaged. Their failure was the result of designing based on assumptive user needs. The design of Foodie is grounded in solid user demands, and technology is used to solve problems that the current ways of interaction have, instead of merely creating a new way for people to interact.
DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
TQ : My main focus has been identifying user pain points and using design to solve these problems. I talked to a lot of target users, listening to how they currently find restaurants and what they are frustrated about. For example, one insight I learned was that they trust recommendations from their friends, but they can't always get these recommendations when they need them, like, on the street. As a solution to the problem, I designed the map function to let users find restaurants anytime, anywhere. Ultimately, my goal was to design an application that really solves user problems.
DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
TQ : I am planning to keep exploring the socialization aspect of the app. The app is aimed to achieve two goals: helping users find good restaurants and building more connections with other people. The former has been addressed pretty well by the current design, but the latter still needs more effort. In my future plans, the app will allow users to explore more people to connect based on their tastes, as well as reward new connections they make.
DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
TQ : 4 months, from planning to finishing the design work. Although I first got the inspiration 2 years ago before I started the design. I first had the idea when I first came to the US but wasn't able to make it real until I had some free time. I never forgot this hunch over that 2 years.
DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
TQ : For this particular design, given it's my own side hustle, I pursued my inspiration. When I first came to New York City from China, I was very excited about the diverse food scene here but very ignorant about ethnic food. I didn't know how to order ethnic food, and found apps like Google or Yelp were not that helpful - the popular food on those apps didn't look authentic, they were more like "what Americans like", instead of "what people from that culture would order". I ended up asking my friends from different cultures for food recommendations, it not only helped me find amazing food but made me closer to my friends. This experience inspired me to design an app that allows everyone to have this amazing experience. Ultimately, I wish users can get to know more friends from other cultures because of using this app.
DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
TQ : Good question. I believe the answer is rooted in the design philosophy I started to be aware of very recently. I want to use technology to help people build meaningful connections, and design is my approach to achieving this goal. The pandemic has enhanced my desire of pursuing more work like this, as we were more separated from each other. This experience forced us to redefine what connections we need, and how to build those connections.
DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
TQ : I identified 3 types of target users for my design, they are "foodies", "friends of foodies", and "ethnic food experts". "Foodies" will be the major content generator for the app, as they like exploring restaurants and documenting restaurants they like. "Friends of foodies" like exploring restaurants but they are not that good at it. So they will ask their foodie friends for suggestions. "Ethic food experts" are people like me, they are very knowledgeable about food from their culture, and can provide good suggestions, however, they might not know much about food from some other cultures. They will be both content generators and consumers of the app.
DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
TQ : Mechanism of trust and the focus on socialization. When a person uses other products, like Google and Yelp, they evaluate the quality of a restaurant base on the number of reviews and the overall score. A restaurant needs a lot of good reviews to establish its reputation. People might not go to a new restaurant merely because it doesn't have enough reviews. However, recommendations from friends are a more qualitative way of building trust. One piece of recommendation is good enough for someone to trust and potentially visit a restaurant. Another differentiator for my design is the focus on socialization. The goal of using Foodie is not only to find good food, bu connecting with friends. And the more connections you build, the more food recommendations you get. They are mutually benefiting each other.
DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
TQ : I named my design "Foodie" as I think it's an app designed for real foodies. I wanted my target users to be attracted by the name immediately.
DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
TQ : I conducted user research and competitive analysis and used the data from this research to inform my design decisions. In the user research sessions, I mainly asked questions about their current user behaviors on restaurant hunting and their opinions about receiving and providing recommendations.
DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
TQ : I wanted to share my design with a broader audience, and hopefully, it can inspire other designers in their work. As a designer, I understand how important it is to always get exposed to fresh inspirations. I have benefited a lot from other designers' amazing work and it's time for me to give back to the community.