Our first blog post in this series told the story of our experiences with the current digital landscape of food truck resources in D.C. We believe there is room to improve the way people find food trucks. You can check Twitter, a few food truck websites and a variety of dc-based blogs to find food trucks; our goal is to create an application that unifies all these channels and becomes the trusted source for locating food trucks, getting directions to their locations and interacting with D.C.’s food scene community.
This second installment in our series covers our discovery phase of the project and presents our core set of features. Let’s start with a recap of our two major areas of concern:
You Can’t Trust the Website
Users return to a website or application because they feel in some way that the source is reliable and trustworthy. A well designed interface and the content determines a website’s validity. With the current resources, customers are presented with information that can be inconsistent and out of date. When you find gaps in the data, how do you know for sure what you are reading is reliable?
When You’re Busy and Starving, a Bad User Experience Just Makes You Hangry
A website may have the right information and at the same time this information can be inaccessible because of poor design. When this happens the site has failed to create an environment that allows the user to extract exactly what she needs.
We always knew this solution needed to take shape as a mobile application for the obvious reasons; people are attached to their phones and your phone is more convenient than a laptop. The name for our solution is 411 Eats; a straightforward name sans bells and whistles that immediately lets you know the application’s general content.
We approached this project by discussing use case scenarios and identifying current pain points that are experienced when trying to find a food truck in the current digital landscape. From these discussions, we developed a list of critical features then moved into an iterative process of wireframing while also validating technical requirements.
Low-Fi Prototype into Simple, Clean Design
We created a low fidelity prototype with FluidUI to test out the user flow and iterate based on external feedback before writing any code. Once we finalized the wireframes, we replicated them into Ionic. Ionic has a solid set of defaults that provided the flexibility and customization we needed to create the application and apply a simple, clean UI that features a bright, punchy color palette.
Here’s our short list of what you can do with 411 Eats:
Find a Food Truck
Use our map, search by name, view by list or sort by square (McPherson Square, Franklin Square, etc) to find any and all trucks registered in D.C. We are providing users a few channels for finding trucks; we will track the most popular ways to find food trucks and use this data to refine for future updates.
Create a Watch List via Favorites
Based on our own experiences at the office, we assume most of us are creatures of habit and get food from a specific rotation of food trucks. Your choice might float between pho, pizza and tacos. If this describes your behavior, you can use Favorites to add specific trucks to a watch list so you can keep track of them.
Get All the Deets
Besides locating a food truck, you can also check out specific information about each truck. Some food trucks only use Twitter and Facebook and some, we were surprised to find, do not have their own websites. We’ve extracted the core information for you and also created a place to view a food truck’s menu, and recent tweets/Facebook posts. Push notifications will also be used for things like sending out reminders of when food trucks are open and about to close.
411 Eats is an intuitive, simple solution for finding food trucks. We want to make the experience great for everyone and expect to get feedback, comments, suggestions from anyone who uses it. You’ll be able to do so in-app. Tell us you hate it, tell us you love it, tell us that it stopped the hangry.
Next up: a look under the grill of our development phase.