Have A Seat

Tackling large party reservation problems

Product Designer - Research, Wireframing, UI Design, Prototyping, Usability Testing | 90+ hours
Group projects—remember those?
Well, working together was one of the challenges because everyone has different...everything. Different opinions, different working hours, etc.

Making reservations for a large group is no different—different food preferences, different availabilities, etc. And the more people there are, the more complex things can quickly get.
Why would things get complex with more people?

According to my research with users:

“I had to find a place that could seat all 20 of us, but it was so hard to find any!”

Reservations for a few people tend to be straightforward. But for 15 people? 50? It gets messy pretty quickly. Users tend to search online for places, but it can be vague and confusing as to how many people a restaurant is able to take. In a lot of cases, users have to call up a lot of restaurants just to check and negotiate, which takes up their time and energy.

“I’d rather make reservations online than via calling.”

For convenience, because users are using the internet to search for and read up on places already, they usually want the next step—making reservations—to be online as well.

“I’ve constantly had to find places that were appropriate for company events for my company.”

Not all restaurants are good for all types of occasions. Would you normally host a wedding reception at the local Chuck E. Cheese? Would you celebrate a child’s birthday at a famous winery? My guess—I highly doubt it.

When it comes to special events of some sort, people need to find places that suit the scene and the moment. For important corporate events, taking your staff to McDonald’s might not be the best choice.

Here's how I tackled these issues.
Graduation party with 35 relatives at 7pm? We got you.

First, foremost, and focus of my agenda was taking away the hassle, complications, and frustrations of trying to make reservations for a large group of people. Instead of jumping through hoops, calling up every restaurant, figuring out what restaurants are good for what, this takes care of it for you.

From the get-go, it knows when you’ve got a large group to take care of. From there, users can answer a few telling questions that would then show them the best restaurants for whatever occasion they have. These questions come from the concerns and frustrations users reported having when it comes to making reservations for large parties.

Found a restaurant? Check. Make a reservation? Check.

Once you find a restaurant that fits everything you need for your group and event, you go straight through the reservation process. It’s designed to be as straightforward as possible, asking only what is necessary from the user and nothing more.

Once that is done, everything is emailed to you, with clear instructions on how to change or cancel the reservation if needed. No guessing, no confusion, because it was all designed using user research.

Here’s a peek at some of the work I did.
Why did I aim to design for large party reservations? Research.

There were the occasional mishaps that users brought up during my research. For example, some users mention not understanding the person at the restaurant when they called up the restaurant to make reservations—some due to bad signal, some due to language gaps. It was a given that for those problems, in addition to many users preferring to do things through the internet, the reservation process should be online.

But the heaviest of frustrations that always came up was when users needed to find reservations for the big groups. That was where I knew I wanted to focus my attention.

It was imperative to have a straightforward and simple user flow

The biggest frustrations were rooted in the complicated, messy process of making a reservation for a large amount of people. So that was where I needed to focus my energy.

The key was to take people from wanting to eat at a restaurant, to actually having a seat at the restaurant—without any hassle or break in routine in between. If there is some occasion that’s happening, then finding a place should be the least of worries.

Wireframing, designing, and a bunch of testing

Once again, it was imperative to get the flow right and I discovered very early that I wasn’t achieving that. It was only through wireframing and testing that I discovered how I wasn’t getting it right as well as nudges in the right direction while I was watching my users get frustrated.

Getting past the clunky flow was difficult, but once I smoothed it out, users were all able to successfully make reservations quickly and easily.

And the glue that holds it all together: the branding and visuals
Curious to see how it turned out? Try it out below.
Looking back...

I started this project in the midst of the current global pandemic, which meant that, at that time, no one had been able to make reservations to go out and eat during this time. This meant that research with users were about recalling experiences that were not ideally as recent as I would want.

However, users somehow had stronger memories about some of their past experiences, possibly because it's an activity that they are unable to do at this certain time, which lead to stronger emotions and recollections about them.

So despite the fact that restaurant reservations are currently a thing of the past, it didn't mean that I couldn't think ahead to the future on how useful restaurant reservations will be for when people will be able to meet and eat together again to celebrate the efforts and success of overcoming the pandemic.

Hopefully that will happen soon in the near future, when we can all go back to how it was before.

Let’s take a look at other work I’ve done.

Reducing food waste in the home

I designed a mobile app for keeping track of food at home and finding recipes to help reduce food waste.

Read case study