Designing for


In the age of convenience, where apps and the real world are competing for your attention, every single click, every second spent on your service counts. And it’s never truer for a platform that promise you to find the best bar, the nearest pharmacy or whatever you need as quickly as your brain can request it.

Yelp, a company initially designed for a desktop usage does not necessarily has this sense of urgency deep in their DNA the way a company like Uber does. Can we update Yelp to the current age where user’s expectations go higher, and patience gets lower?

The Approach

Design With Attitude

This exercise is not meant to be a realistic redesign of what Yelp could be given the company strategic priorities of today, such as business partnerships and emphasis on delivery. It is an aggressive rethinking of the experience if the app was tailored for a specific, but nonetheless major use case. Finding the best places nearby quickly.

With such a project deeply rooted into people’s everyday life and habits, it’s the perfect candidate for a good old guerrilla testing in public spaces. For this exercise, I went to the park and interviewed regular people and asked them to show me how they would pick the ideal spot that would suit their needs.

Use Cases

Right Here, Right Now

After interviewing a bunch of users, I quickly got the insights I was looking for and identify some common patterns. The most common use case was convenience driven. Where can I find a pharmacy open now? A good coffee with wifi? Where’s a good bar in the neighborhood to go after the birthday? Where is the nearest sushi spot that does not require me to break the piggy bank?

These cases are extremely time sensitive a require an answer under a minute. They won’t necessarily compare every single choice, read every review. They just want something that is “good enough” and accessible.

Keywords: Nearby, open now, powerful search, Social proof (lots of review/highly ranked), recently searched?

Search is everything

Almost every user revolved around the search. It felt obvious because it is “simple and easy”

Input first, refine after

Users type “sushi” or “skatepark” first. The filtering should be customized after based on their search.

Nearby by default

Most of the time, users are looking for places instantly around them first.

The rest is noise

When in a rush, they want to see the best places, not ones with low reviews or not open

Design Principles

Laying out the Foundations

These key insights and the reduced scope gave us solid starting points for our approach. We had solid guidelines to think about the architecture of the app and design for the core experience we’re trying to solve. Let’s not forget we are having an aggressive approach so let’s push hard on concept and make sure we go to the edge of our thinking without any external pressure.

The map is the homepage

Having the app as the home will quickly provide a sense of location and the feeling that we know where you are and everything will be tailored based on your current point giving a sense of convenience.

The search is on the map

Tying the search to the map will provide the feeling that the search will be defaulted to your location and enhance the feeling of “nearby”. Implementing the categories on the map allows to get instant responsiveness on the map and shortcut the search nearby flow.

Interactive Sub-categories

The filters and sub-categories display custom options based on the initial input which makes the experience more flexible and likely to find what you need.

Breaking the Map vs list paradigm

Most app force to switch back and forth between different modes. Here, the list changes in context of the map. This will avoid the user switching between different browsing mode, keep simplicity and the accessibility of the app.


The World

A Few Taps Away

The best pizza around, the nearest dive bar, the most unique brunch? Find what you need in a matter of seconds. One map, millions of places at your fingertips

Get immersed right away into your neighbourhood and its possibilities..

Simply pick or search what you’re looking for..

Easily refine your search without losing your context.


What’s Next?

Obviously, it is highly unlikely that such a company like Yelp could/would implement such an aggressive redesign of their app. This does not necessarily catered to Yelp’s current priorities. This has value for various things, though.

So many platforms and apps are trying to answer to many things and too many different use cases at once. They ends up with a hybrid product with no clear purpose, goal and leaving the user with some frustrating pages where they don’t know what they’re supposed to. Reducing to specific use cases focuses the experience and help clarify what the product is all about at its core.

It may not change anything, but it can nurture deeper thinking and drive the the future of the local business platforms. It can also influence executives by giving a concrete exemple of what the core experience of the platform could be and develop more innovative strategic thinking for the company in the long term. Or it may be the next big thing, who knows?