UX Labyrinth: Restaurant.com

Posted By Debbie on December 13, 2011

Categories: UX/UI

Tags: food, restaurants

Restaurant.com is a great place to get discounted gift certificates to restaurants you like or want to try. I generally like to use it when I can find the right place to eat. However, FINDING that place is PAINFUL.

First, I noticed that they are NOT using the Yelp API to bring in reviews. I can only assume that’s on purpose since I’ve noticed that a good number of restaurants on Restaurant.com don’t have the greatest reviews. So I have Yelp open in another tab, and flip back and forth. If Restaurant.com doesn’t notice a lot of repeat biz, they should go for better places that are likely to make people happier with their dining experience!

Second, searching starts out tough and gets worse. On the home page, you can enter a zip code, or pick one of about 15 major cities. Well, let’s say we want Napa, CA. Not a major city. I don’t know the zip code. I was just going to go there for a night. Now, I have to Google the zip code of Napa, CA since there is nowhere to type in a city name. UGH.

From there, it kind of gets uglier. Click to enlarge to see search results for part of San Francisco.

No map. Right side column of ads for places I’m nowhere near. Mix (2nd one in the right side ads) is in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Vegas. I’m searching San Francisco. Not logical. The sort menu that shows “relevance” has other choices for average entree price and restaurant name. Not sure how they determine relevance other than pushing their featured people at me.

On the left side, if I hit the + for entertainment, I find that two places are karaoke places. I click karaoke. The site takes forever, and then shows me this (click to enlarge):

A bunch of left side choices went away. The right side is still there (useless). Karaoke is now in my breadcrumbs. If I want to take karaoke OUT, and find just the places with pool tables, I have to hit the garbage can next to karaoke. I have to wait for that page to load. Then I have to go back, hit the plus to expand entertainment, and pick something else.

There are many easier ways to do this. I don’t think this site has been touched in a very long time. Restaurant.com has been running a lot of specials lately to sell gift cards. I am hoping they will put that money towards redoing how the site is navigated and used. I’d think that making this easier and faster could contribute to them having more customers. As usual, I offer myself if they need some UX help. 🙂