Case Study Restaurant At-the-Table Ordering App

An expedited dining experience: Order your food quickly and directly through the app at your table, with the convenience of paying at the end of your meal. This eliminates the need to wait for a server to take your order, reducing overall wait times.

Project Duration
December 2022 to April 2023

My Role
Lead UX Designer

My project involved developing a new app designed to streamline the process of ordering food directly from restaurant tables. Prior to its launch, it was crucial to assess whether the app provided a user-friendly and efficient method for ordering and making payments. I sought to gain insights into the precise challenges users might encounter during these processes and, subsequently, determine how to address and overcome these challenges effectively..

The Problem
The issue at hand revolves around extended wait times throughout the dining experience. Customers often endure prolonged waits for menus, order-taking, food delivery to their table, and, finally, the arrival of the check, followed by the payment process at the register. This protracted sequence of events results in stress, particularly for patrons with children or individuals adhering to tight schedules.


Problem statement:

Samantha Rose is a married working mom with one child with ADHD.  She needs a quick way to order when she goes out to a restaurant to get her food to her child quickly because when her child is starving, he gets hyperactive, loud, and destructive, which makes her anxiety levels go up and frustration with eating out not an enjoyable experience. 

Derrick West is a divorced dad of 2 children who needs to be able to get food quickly to his children because when the children are hungry, they can be loud and messy, which is distracting and frustrating to Derrick because he wants less stress while talking to other dads.

The Goal
The aim was to expedite the food ordering process, reducing wait times significantly. By allowing payments to be made directly at the table, we aim to eliminate the delay associated with waiting for the check and settling the bill at the register. This streamlined approach will enable users to get in and out more swiftly, reducing any anxiety related to waiting for food and payment and allowing them to move on to their next appointment or tend to their child’s nap more efficiently.

In our quest to gain deeper insights into the users we are designing for and their unique needs, we employed empathy maps. By charting the user journeys of both Samantha and Derrick, it became evident that providing users with an at-the-table app for ordering and payment would offer exceptional benefits. This app holds the potential to significantly enhance the speed and efficiency of the entire food service process, spanning order placement, delivery, and payment.

One of the key user segments identified through our research comprises adults dining at restaurants with hungry children. Additionally, our research delved into issues related to takeout applications, recognizing their relevance due to notable similarities between the two application types.

During the competitive audit report, I discovered that other BBQ restaurants lacked a vegetarian menu option, failed to provide a dedicated children’s menu, and even encountered issues with product availability, often running out of items prematurely.

In my UX design case study, I began by addressing user pain points and crafting paper wireframes for each screen of the app. My focus was on ensuring smooth navigation, an intuitive ordering process, and an efficient payment flow.

Transitioning from paper to digital wireframes provided a clear visualization of how the redesign could effectively address user pain points and enhance the overall user experience.

Within these wireframes, I paid particular attention to the home screen since it serves as the starting point for users. Here, I prioritized key features, starting with the option to “Reserve a Table” since it’s a restaurant and seating is crucial. To enhance the user experience, I also included a prominent “Order” button alongside the menu to streamline the ordering process, eliminating the need to wait for physical menus or staff to take orders.

Additionally, I introduced a “Store” section, recognizing the popularity of BBQ rubs and sauces. This allowed customers to conveniently purchase these items while dining, with the purchases seamlessly integrated into the overall billing process.

Lastly, I incorporated a “Pay Bill” feature for quick and convenient payment directly through the app. To emphasize the importance of these elements, I marked them with a star to ensure their inclusion in the subsequent digital wireframes.

In the prototype, the user begins on the homepage, offering access to various functions such as table reservations, ordering, menu browsing, bill payment, and a shop. Additionally, there’s a carousel of BBQ images that automatically cycles through three different images for added visual appeal and engagement.

Each process within the app follows a consistent pattern, moving from the primary screen to a confirmation screen. This confirmation screen includes a convenient back button, allowing users to easily cancel a process if needed, providing a straightforward and user-friendly experience.

The primary user group, consisting of adults dining with hungry children, highlighted the urgent need for faster food ordering and delivery directly to the table. The delays in menu delivery, order-taking, and payment processes caused stress for both the hungry child and their parent. Recognizing the growing trend of users favoring phone-based payment methods to enhance security, I incorporated this convenience into my solution.

Additionally, I considered the information architecture of standard takeout apps, where users often encounter challenges such as the absence of food images and overwhelming text-based menus. To address these pain points, I included these crucial elements in our at-the-table app design. Given the similarities between the new app and typical takeout app user issues, my research focused on incorporating solutions to these shared problems.

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) employed in this evaluation were selected to provide valuable insights into user interactions and the system’s overall effectiveness in facilitating food order and payment. These KPIs include:

Using these KPIs, I effectively measured and analyzed user behavior, identified areas for improvement, and gauged the app’s success in enhancing the food order and payment processes.

  1. Time On Task: This metric helps assess how efficiently users can complete various tasks within the app, offering insights into the app’s usability and workflow efficiency.
  2. Use Of Navigation Icons Vs. Search: Examining whether users predominantly rely on navigation icons or the search feature helps determine the clarity of the app’s layout and whether users can easily find what they need.
  3. User Error Rates: Monitoring user error rates indicates the app’s user-friendliness and identifies potential pain points or areas where users may encounter difficulties.
  4. Conversion Rates: These rates provide insights into how successfully users progress through the app’s stages, from initial engagement to the ultimate goal of placing an order and making a payment.
  5. System Usability Scale (SUS): The SUS is a standardized questionnaire designed to assess the overall usability of a system. It provides a quantitative measure of user satisfaction and usability.

Sticker Sheet Figma

The two studies represent a comprehensive approach to testing and refining the app’s usability and appeal. Here’s a summary of each study:

First Study:

  • Objective: The primary goal of the first study was to assess the app’s ease of use for ordering and payment and to identify and address specific user challenges.
  • Method: This study was conducted remotely using questionnaires. It involved 5 participants (three males and two females) aged 18-65 who were regular diners and BBQ food enthusiasts.
  • Focus: The study focused on testing the app before its launch to understand initial user experiences and challenges in the context of BBQ food ordering and payment.
  • Outcome: Insights from this study likely contributed to refining the app’s initial design and addressing usability issues unique to BBQ restaurant patrons.

Mobile low-fidelity prototype

(click to view)

Jam Session

Mobile high-fidelity prototype

(click to view)

Second Study:

  • Objective: The second study aimed to test the app’s revised version, including corrections from the first study, and to assess its potential appeal in a broader restaurant context, not limited to BBQ.
  • Method: Similar to the first study, this one was conducted remotely using questionnaires. It involved 10 participants (8 females, 2 males) aged 18-65, with a mix of Android and iOS users, including participants with dietary restrictions.
  • Focus: This study expanded its scope to evaluate the navigation flow and design elements such as fonts, colors, and images. It also aimed to determine if the app could cater to a broader range of restaurant types.
  • Outcome: Findings from this study likely contributed to further refinements and confirmed whether the app’s usability improvements made it suitable for a broader audience beyond BBQ enthusiasts. Including participants with dietary restrictions likely provided valuable insights into accommodating diverse user needs.

Overall, these two studies provided valuable insights into the app’s usability, appeal, and potential for a wider audience, leading to a more well-rounded and user-friendly design.

While this project was a course assignment and may not see real-world implementation in its current form, it has the potential to address specific needs in the restaurant industry. An app like this could prove immensely valuable for busy restaurants aiming to expedite table turnover. Orders efficiently make their way to the kitchen via the app, and servers can promptly deliver food. Users benefit from real-time updates on their orders, helping them manage their time, whether it’s getting back to work or catching a movie.

Throughout this project, I acquired valuable insights and skills. It began as a concept and evolved into a refined solution through the development of personas, journey maps, and usability research testing. I learned the importance of selecting suitable types of user participants for both low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototype tests, ensuring that the design aligns with user needs and preferences. Additionally, I recognized that it’s impossible to please everyone, highlighting the significance of research in distinguishing common issues from personal preferences. It was crucial to remain unbiased to avoid influencing the testing results. Lastly, I gained an understanding that a design can start with a specific user in mind but has the potential to evolve into something that caters to a broader audience, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and user-centric design principles.

This project marked my initial experience in the Google UX Design class, and while it won’t actually be developed, it has been a significant learning opportunity. One crucial lesson I learned from this endeavor is the importance of beginning with a single user persona and then progressing through the app’s research phase, which can reveal potential benefits for a variety of user types. I’ve also emphasized the importance of maintaining objectivity in our usability studies. Most importantly, when designing this app, I comprehensively understood the entire UX design process, from inception to completion.