Archive for the ‘menu’ tag
“Menus suck,” at least according to Dave McClure, and should be online, up to date, and accessible. Today, Yelp and Locu announced a partnership that will bring restaurant menus to Yelp in real-time, along with price lists and business information.
Locu simplifies the technical aspects of maintaining a current online menu so chefs can focus on more important things, like creating delicious food. Using Locu’s menu management dashboard, restaurants can edit, design, and share their menus across the web. As McClure noted, the restaurant industry is not the most technologically advanced and many gain a significant amount of exposure through Yelp. However menus on Yelp are often outdated and so poor hungry consumers still have visit the restaurant’s actual website (if they have one) to check out their options.
This partnership will make it easier for the 15,000 small businesses on Locu to extend their storefront by posting their menus , photos, and daily specials to Yelp’s 100 million unique visitors across multiple channels. Yelp, in turn, will benefit from a better menu offering, which is likely encourage higher levels of user engagement.
“Like most consumers, one of the best ways to discover great local businesses is by searching online,” said Locu CEO Rene Reinsberg in an email. “Yelp is one of the most important places for our local businesses customers to be found by consumers. I want to see whether a business is open and what they are offering right now, so having a real time price list and photos can make a huge difference in my decision.”
Locu also works with hair/nail salons, spas, home cleaning services, and fitness studios. The API gives developers access to “the world’s largest real-time structured repository of local business offerings data,” which comes directly from merchants. The platform is built on machine learning, and distributes information in real time to hundreds of publishers and other search platforms, like OpenTable, TripAdvsior, Citysearch, and now Yelp. The company was founded by MIT graduates and is backed by General Catalyst Capital Partners, Lowercase, Lightbank, SV Angel and angel investors.
Some people still enjoy the thrill of surprise when you open up a restaurant menu and glance at the offerings for the first time. However, in today’s world of dietary restrictions, checking ahead of time to make sure there are gluten-free, vegan-friendly, paleo-approved options is often a necessity. And as the restaurant industry becomes more focused on using seasonal ingredients, menus are constantly changing. Restaurants that are committed to a dynamic menu put a lot of work into coming up with the dishes and finding the right ingredients, and a lack of tech-savvy shouldn’t limit their ability to connect with consumers.
This partnership is one step towards making menus suck less.
Photo Credit: Thompsoe/Flickr, Locu
CloudPlay Is a Menu Bar Music Player That Pulls Songs from iTunes, SoundCloud, YouTube, and More [Mac Downloads]
Mac: You have a ton of different options for pulling songs from the internet and creating playlists. CloudPlay is a Mac app currently in beta that lets you create playlists based on sources ranging from iTunes, SoundCloud, YouTube, and online radio. More »
Android: The Google Translate app for Android got a huge update yesterday: now if you take a photo of a sign, menu, or any other text in another language using your Android device, you can tell the app to try and translate it based on a selection of the text that you specify. The app will try and interpret the characters from your image and will automatically translate the text into your preferred language for you. More »
Google Translate announced they added in integration with Google Goggles, to help with your translation needs. So when you are in a restaurant and the menu looks foreign to you, you can pull out your Google Translate app and have it search for the translation. You take a picture of the words,…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
This is a personal request from your user, a rallying cry from a compatriot. I personally love WordPress. I make my living from it. The average user, though, couldn’t care less about it. They just want to run their business, tell their family history, organize their church, share their photos or live their life online with a minimum of impedance. In its evolution from simple blogging tool to CMS, framework and software ecosystem, WordPress is losing its way. It needs us to help bring it back and cultivate simple genius.
My agency married WordPress in 2007. We’d been dating for a number of years but were still seeing others: some serious flirtation with Joomla, a blind date with Drupal, a summer romance with CMSMS, even a steady five-year stint with a custom CMS that we lovingly named Rocinante (after Don Quixote’s loyal steed). We tied the knot with WordPress for one single reason: about six to nine months after most of our projects, we would get the fateful call. “The only person who really understands how to use the website you built just left the company, and we need someone to train us!” It was almost inevitable, except on WordPress. No one ever called for help after a WordPress project except to share their excitement and book the next project. They just figured it out. It was easy and obvious and beautiful. Our clients loved it, and that was something you could grow a business on.
Then, WordPress started to grow up. New features like the menu manager, theme editor and sidebar widgets made WordPress more robust but more complicated. The ecosystem of plugins exploded. WordPress plugins are harder to use than they should be. Ask your users. We did. It was quite illuminating and a hint embarrassing. We decided to act on Tom Ewe’s call to arms and lead by example:
“I find it astonishing that WordPress developers haven’t worked harder to create usability guidelines for plugin development. Even experienced WordPress users are often left guessing as to where they should go to work with a new plugin.
One of the key drivers of WordPress’ success has been plugins, and yet they are not actually that easy to use. They appear as being stapled onto WordPress, as opposed to integrating seamlessly. Surely there should be some common usability rules when it comes to plugin development?”
— Tom Ewe
We Lack Conventions, And This Is Why It’s A Problem
Three weeks ago, we brought on Joyce to our customer team at Modern Tribe. She’s smart, she has a real power-user’s/light themer’s grasp of WordPress, and she had never used our free WordPress.org-hosted plugin, The Events Calendar, nor any other of our add-ons. She came back after looking them over and said, “This is far harder to set up than it should be.” I asked her whether she had read the new user primer or the set-up instructions. “No, I didn’t. I bet most of your users don’t either.” I had to admit that Joyce was probably right. Rather than try to list all of the things that she thought might or might not work, she pointed me to Steve Krug’s SxSW talk “Rocket Surgery Made Easy.” I couldn’t turn it off. I’ll boil it down to a few paragraphs for you, but if you develop a plugin or theme or have a product business, this is a must hear.
Krug argues that hiring usability experts is unnecessary (heck, let’s be honest: most of us don’t do it anyway). The real value of a usability test is in getting together (ideally with sushi) and observing the experience, not hearing an expert’s interpretation. Within 15 minutes of watching the first user try to use our plugin, a handful of long-running arguments were resolved and some incredibly simple hurdles were exposed. I’ll walk you through the process that we followed for a remote usability test of The Events Calendar.
Our Remote Usability Test: Step-By-Step
- Total time invested: 6 hours
- Set-up: 1 hour
- Testing: 3.25 hours
- Notes: 0:45 minutes
- Team review: 1 hour
- Find three participants. We had enough users and visitors that a blog post generated about 15 willing offers. We gave away a free copy of The Events Calendar Pro in exchange for participation. Make sure that the criteria for participation are explicit. Krug insists that you really don’t need more than three users, and that turned out to be spot on. By the third user, we were accurately guessing where they would fail. Schedule the test to last about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the tasks, and give yourself time in between to clean up your notes and deal with other details.
- Think of some process or features you want to explore. We were curious to see how first-time users experience our core Events plugin. With that in mind, we made a series of nine steps that we knew were pretty common for setting up the calendar. Make sure to write them out, and give goal-based instructions, not actual steps. Think, “Create a new event,” rather than “Click the new events menu to make an event.”
- Set up a domain with WordPress and your plugin or theme on it. If you are testing a plugin, decide whether the problem or feature set that you defined in step 2 is best served by a fairly vanilla build (for example, 2011 theme + minimal plugins + no content) or by a more real-world build (perhaps use your demo content if you have one or a user’s website backup). Configure the whole website precisely for the first step. Run through it once entirely to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything obvious.
- Back up the database of the website so that you can restore between tests.
- Grab a copy of Join.me or your favorite screen-sharing or VoIP tool (such as GoToMeeting or Adobe Connect). We found that Skype just wasn’t stable enough to carry us through the screen-sharing portion of our test run. Join.me functioned amazingly well, except for an issue with voice echo caused by laptop sound cards during one test. The fact that it was free was appealing. Make sure that both screen-sharing and voice are available in whatever set-up you choose and can be recorded together. We used ScreenFlow to record the test so that it could be reviewed later.
- Do a quick test run with someone on your team (or your mom), and make sure that the kinks are worked out.
- Get the whole team ready and present. Do whatever you can to get people to participate. Everyone on our team who participated was blown away by the experience. Buy them fancy snacks or digital beer. Fire up a chat session if your team is remote (one that the test participant is not privy to) so that your team can chat freely. If you are co-located, make sure the team is not in the room where the test is taking place. Twelve people hovering over someone’s shoulder will unnerve even the most confident person.
- The introduction and set-up are key. Krug has a great script that we just followed. The first key: explain to the participant that the plugin is being tested, not them. There is no wrong or stupid choice. If something is hard or confusing, it’s our fault and we apologize. Secondly, encourage the participant to speak out loud and share their thoughts; i.e. provide a guided monologue. Give them a copy of the steps (paste them into the chat session or email them beforehand), and read them through together once.
- Read a step. Watch. Shut up (bite tongue). The goal is to watch them as if you weren’t there, so don’t help them. This can get crazy awkward, but observing the various choices they make in trying to accomplish a goal becomes very informative. Consistently ask questions to get them to speak out loud, such as “What are you thinking?” and “What did you expect?”
Observing user 2 figure out where to add events to her menu. (Large version)
- Have the moderator and the people observing take notes on what they see, and discuss together.
- Once all of the steps were completed, we asked a bunch of probing questions. We were surprised by how much two users employed the admin bar, so we asked more about that. We were curious why no one clicked the tutorials, despite having the answer in the title. And on and on.
Usability has to do with more than what’s in a plugin’s admin settings. We probed why none of the users took advantage of the tutorials. It turned out that a blog loop has no useful organization, so we made a quick page to group the posts by topic. (Large version)
- Time to pay the participant in money, karma or free goods and get ready for the next test. Reset the website’s database.
- Take some time to condense your notes. Ask everyone who observed to pick the three most important things that can quickly be fixed based on the test. The goal is not to do a redesign; we are looking for quick course corrections. Then we test again in a new cycle.
Notes were broken down into observations, user recommendation and bugs. (Large version)
Findings From Our Tests
A number of our major debates were instantly answered. For example, we had had a prolonged disagreement about the placement of the menu item for the plugin’s settings. The majority of the development team felt that it belonged in WordPress’ main “Settings” tab because that is a de facto standard. A minority of developers and all of the community team thought that putting it in the submenu for the Events custom post type would be more intuitive.
Both sides had great arguments. For the test, we put it in the WordPress settings, and then we watched three users in a row fail to find it there in a reasonable timeframe. One found it from the top admin toolbar (we put it there, too), one eventually looked in WordPress’ “Settings,” and one gave up despite looking right at it three times. Standards are great, but we all had to admit that functionality has to supersede a poor standard. We explored putting it in both places, but ultimately we decided to move it to the Events menu for now due to technical limitations.
We also saw how hard a time users had finding the events calendar on the front end of the website, despite it being in five locations. By seeing where people looked for it, we came up with a game plan that took five minutes to implement, and we hope it will make it a whole lot more intuitive.
The usability test was so valuable that Paul, one of the developers, asked if we could do it every month. Usability testing has, without a doubt, provided the best feedback we have ever gotten on our product, it cost very little, and it has now been added to the monthly production schedule. We will be testing these updates next week to see if they truly did improve the experience.
I’m continually amazed by a community’s ability to reach the same conclusion at the same time. Last week, Dave Martin posted for the first time to the core UX team’s blog:
I’m just getting my feet wet, and quite honestly haven’t a clue where to get started, so I thought I’d set up a quick user test (I’m a big fan of user testing). I set up a temporary WP install, and ran a user from usertesting.com through a couple scenarios.
Check out the video. It almost hurts to watch her struggle. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see the core team paying attention as well and engaging quickly. It is a great start.
Call For WordPress Human Interface Guidelines
The average website has over five plugins installed (according to PressTrends) and often a theme options panel. For a great experience to continue throughout the website as people actually experience it, we need to establish strong standards for the rest of the community to follow.
I am calling all WordPress plugin developers and themers. You don’t need to guess what your users might want or how they will experience your product. Just watch them. We know it: if we focus on usability, stability and then value, we can make products that users will line up for.
To the core WordPress team and the community at large: Let’s get together and create WordPress human interface guidelines for those who contribute by providing plugins and themes for the world to use. Apple gave us a rock and upon it built a foundation that few can deny. Google finally got around to it with Ice Cream Sandwich, and I expect to see drastic improvement in the wild west that is the Android application landscape. Help us help WordPress.
In the words of Matt Mullenweg when he saw Dave’s first post:
Thank you very much for this, I think more frequent and more transparent testing will allow us to make much better informed product and UX decisions. If we do this right we should see the videos get better and better (shorter and less confusion) from release to release.
Code is poetry. So should be your user’s experience.
© Shane Pearlman for Smashing Magazine, 2012.
Battery Status Puts Apple Wireless Keyboard, Trackpad, and Magic Mouse Battery Life in Your Menu Bar [Mac Downloads]
Mac: You can find your Apple accessory’s battery life buried in your System Preferences, but if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to see how much juice they have left, Battery Status is an app that stuffs that info right in your menu bar. More »
I hate being tagged on Facebook but I might be out of the norm.
I guess this is a useful feature.
You search for something, can’t find the best answer on Bing and decide to ask it on Facebook and call out some friends who you think are experts in the area. It will add notifications to your friends notification menu and encourage (annoy) them to answer.
What do you think of this feature?
Here is a video of how it works from Bing:
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Airline food has long had a reputation for being substandard and there have been numerous attempts to dispel this image, such as Air France‘s giveaway of its gourmet menu in New York. Now British Airways has created the Height Cuisine menu, which features foods selected due to their taste at an altitude of 30,000 feet.
The menu is based on the premise that food doesn’t taste the same on the ground as it does in the air, because people lose 30 percent of the sensitivity in their tastebuds when flying. The airline tested several foods and altered its recipes to cater for this decline. For example, the company compared thousands of wines to find the ones that keep a balanced flavor at high altitudes. In order to boost the sweet, sour, bitter or salt qualities of certain foods in the air, the recipes add extra ingredients to bring out the right tones – for example, citrus is added to sour dishes and sharp cheeses such as parmesan are used to create saltier flavors. The new menu also takes into account how the look of food can affect diners’ taste perceptions. The video below explains more about the ideas behind campaign:
Height Cuisine aims to alter travelers’ perception of airline food, although the menu is currently only available to First and Business class customers. Airlines around the world – one for inspiration?
Spotted by: Katherine Noyes
British Airways’ involvement with the Olympic Games goes back a long time. What does this assocation mean to the brand?
We trace our steps back to 1948 when we were involved as a brand in London, and we’ve also been flying Team GB since 1966, so we’ve had a long involvement with Team GB and ParalympicsGB.
We’re a really proud British brand: We’ve got “British” in our name, we’re red, white and blue and we think this is a fantastic time to celebrate London and everything that’s great about the city.
What criteria do you use when deciding whether a sponsorship is a good fit for the British Airways brand?
We look at marketing strategy and where it’s taking the brand. One of the things we’ll use London 2012 for is to engage with a younger audience. Sponsorship is a fantastic way of talking to new audiences that wouldn’t normally register you as a brand or feel engaged with you.
By tapping into something the whole country is really passionate about, you get a chance to talk to new audiences in a way they wouldn’t really expect you to, and as a result, they become far more engaged in British Airways.
How much of a role will social media play in your sponsorship compared to previous years? When BA launched the Olympic-themed “To Fly, To Serve” campaign in February, the ads debuted on Facebook and Google+ – even before airing on TV during Coronation Street!
Social media has been a fundamental part of our strategy over the last five years. We started off with a competition called Great Britons, which is a bursary that still exists, where we asked people to apply to bursaries if they can demonstrate their British talent.
Then we would pay for flights to help them improve that talent. We used Facebook with that campaign. People had to use friends to vote and the ones who got the most votes went on to win flights.
Since then we have involved social media enormously. To launch our Great Britons competition we opened a pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch, London for two and a half weeks and people could come down and have a menu tasting.
We only released the tickets on Facebook and sold out in three and a half hours through word of mouth. It was incredible. We then added two more tasting sessions and they sold out in 20 minutes.
We also have a 60-second TV ad that shows all the key areas of central London and by entering your postal code the plane drives by your house. As a result people have been sharing it and it’s gone viral, with 2 million views in two weeks. My dad even told me about it!
As the official airline of London 2012 you will have a significant presence at the Olympic park. Is it going to be a challenge to replicate the brand’s values and service on the ground as opposed to up in the air?
We have over 300 volunteers who will be helping at the park. For the first time ever, there’s going to be an enormous double-sided screen where people can watch the action, and we’ll have a number of volunteers at the park to make sure people have a fantastic time.
Experiential or on-the-ground events offer a fantastic way of engaging with people who don’t necessarily fly with British Airways – to give them a chance to see who we are as a brand.
You launched an ad campaign recently that focuses on food (“Height Cuisine”) and you’ve also been a sponsor of Taste of London. Is there going to be some sort of foodie tie-in with the Games?
As part of our Great Britons program we found a Michelin-starred chef named Simon Hulstone who has been working with Heston Blumenthal to design a dedicated Olympic-inspired menu on board and which will be served to over 3 million people over the summer. The menu was actually inspired by menus from 1948.
British Airways isn’t just any local brand. As a national airline and flag carrier, you’re also ambassadors for the United Kingdom. How are you planning to welcome the world to London?
We are the flag carriers for Britain. When people set foot in our aircraft they say it’s like being in Britain. We just want to bring a piece of the Olympic Games to all of our flights, so that people’s exciting journey to the Olympic Games starts on the British Airways aircraft.
We have an Olympic-inspired menu, we’ve got a large number of Olympic inspired films and documentaries on board, so there’s a lot that we do to get people excited about the Games before they actually land in London.
Last.fm has just rolled out the work of a few months: upgrades to some of the site’s most important pages, including the individual pages for artists, albums, and tracks.
The UI changes should make the service easier to use and should help music fans find more new tunes, the Last.fm team says.
“We’ve redesigned Artist, Album, and Track pages from scratch,” reads the company blog.
“We’ve tidied up the page and grouped things together into sections so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for. Actions like playing radio, buying music, and sharing pages with friends are now accessible at the top right of every page. The text is easier to read, and the pictures are bigger. You can also find better listening data for albums and artists.”
Also, across the whole Last.fm site, the navigation menu is now up in the top right corner. “This gives you tidier, wider pages, with more space for the page content,” the team says. Less popular features have been tucked away under a “more” menu item.
Last.fm will be listening closely to user feedback and making tweaks accordingly.
Here’s a sneak peek at the new look and feel of Last.fm:
While we’re sure the team is getting plenty of comments reading, more or less, “New album page really suck. Bring back the old album page PLZ!”* other users seem pretty positive on the changes.
London-based Last.fm is a CBS company; it was acquired by the network in 2007 for $280 million in a cash-only deal.
*actual user comment
Rad picture of bass guitarist on fire courtesy of Sinelyov, Shutterstock
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