I rarely write Yelp reviews. But this morning, I did. And I didn’t have an extremely good or bad experience. Rather, Yelp made an extremely smart product move and generally solid implementation. Here’s what happened.
1. “Reduced Friction” - Yelp finally made it easy to leave a review by placing the review form smack on the front page with the copy “Your Next Review Awaits”.
But reducing “discovery friction” wouldn’t be enough to get me to leave a review if the interaction was clunky. The “interaction friction” was also low. One click and I can give it 4 or 5 stars, or whatever I choose. And there’s just one text field. That’s not intimidating (note that the review UI begins as a small text field and expands to a larger text area to avoid scaring you with a big commitment). It would be “reasonable” to have multiple fields (ask separately about service, food, ambiance, etc.). For example, the full review page is more intimidating even though it fundamentally just wants to collect the same basic review info. But yet Yelp used a very focused version of its review submission interface to increase the rate at which people begin to fill out the form and decrease mid-review abandonment.
Homepage Review Element
The normal review page
2. “Leveraged a Sense of Familiarity / Context” - I had dinner with my girlfriend last week at Contigo. Like many of our meals out, we mentioned it to friends we saw at a party after dinner, and it’s come up once or twice since then between the two us. We formed a positive association with the restaurant through natural, non-commercialized and largely non-digital social interactions. So when I saw the name “Contigo” again when I fired up Yelp, I got a brief warm/fuzzy of familiarity. And then I imagined myself there again, and the people we interacted with during our dinner (hostess, waitress, the nice man who poured the water, and our nearby diners). All of a sudden, I honestly felt an obligation to credit them.
The photo from the venue adjacent to the review box pulls even more at my heartstrings, even as just a thumbnail sized photo
Everything from the website, to the postcard attached to our bill (to send to someone out of town, perhaps), to the name ‘Contigo’ (Spanish for “with you”) all contributed to this positive association
3. “High Signal to Noise Ratio” - Yelp leverages OpenTable reservations as a signal that I actually went to the restaurant (whereas my visiting a review page alone is a much weaker signal). So it’s very likely I actually *did* eat at the restaurant. Also, Yelp shows my most recently reserved reservation (Contigo) first as opposed to the place I went previously (Campanula) - that one shows up after the first, most recent restaurant. Smart - I’m more likely to remember and feel compelled to write something about the place I went last week vs. 2 months ago. Separately, if Yelp had a deep integration with OpenTable, which can tell whether or not I *actually* went to the restaurant and used my reservation, Yelp could further improve the signal to noise ratio, i.e. don’t show me the option to review restaurants I made a reservation at but didn’t go to. One day when Yelp owns the reservation system, too, this will be easier for them.
Additionally, Yelp reminds me of this reservation vs. just hoping I recognize the restaurant.
But here are 2 UX mistakes Yelp made with this flow…
1. Took me out of context after the first review After I leave my first review, I was really hoping they would keep me on the same page, in-context, letting me mow down my unreviewed places.
Instead I got dropped here…
You *can* find where to go to continue the reviews, but it’s not as simple and snappy as just keeping me on the homepage, show a success message in that box (maybe with an option to click to the review or restaurant page in a new tab), and move me to the next restaurant.
Generally speaking move me from A to B…
On the other hand, Linkedin keeps you on the same page when you’re on the ‘People You May Know’ and I’ve heard it’s wildly successful at the ‘Connecting’ process, which could otherwise be scary and awkward.
2. Visually and behaviorally disconnected social sharing after the posting of a review
People take time and care to post Yelp reviews. Why is there such a separation here? It breaks context. It’s ironic if you look at the name of the page.
Normally a site will really push people to share to Facebook or Twitter right after. For example, this is what Eventbrite does after you register for an event.
Now I’m going to finally go leave that review I originally intended to post before I got distracted by the Yelp UX…
[Discuss and upvote on Hacker News]