Over the past few months, we’ve taken Zomato to new shores (Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia, to name a few, with more on the way) and we realized that our product that worked wonderfully in the countries we’re in, didn’t quite match up to the expectations of what people were really looking for.
What followed was a lot of talking to a lot of people who use Zomato regularly. Understanding how they use it. What they like about it. And more importantly, what it is that they dislike. Here are some things we heard from our users:
Can you please make my search quicker and easier? Given the number of listings on Zomato, I have to spend a lot of time figuring out that perfect place to eat.
Reduce the number of low-value reviews. Only show what is useful and relevant. Filter out the junk, and make it easy for me to read reviews from the people I choose to follow on Zomato.
Can I please make Zomato my one-stop food journal? I would like to keep a record of what I ate, with pictures and reviews. A food journal of sorts.
Can I get recommendations for places I might like from the people I follow? Make it easy for me to know what my friends are eating and what they like.
There are some reviewers who don’t understand the 5-point rating scale. The minimum rating they give is a 3 out of 5. Is there a way to normalize their effect on a restaurant’s overall rating?
Too many restaurants lie between 3.0 and 3.5 out of 5. It makes choosing very difficult. Is there a way to force rankings for restaurants in a city, like classroom rankings?
All these questions and insights changed the way we think about Zomato. We also realized that in order to incorporate these things, we’d have to effectively rebuild the way Zomato works from scratch, without changing the basics that everyone is used to.
Starting today, you will see a new Zomato. On the web, and on your mobile devices. We have completely rebuilt and redesigned the experience, and have tried to address most of the issues that have been bugging our users and giving us (many) sleepless nights.
So here’s what we did:
Q: Can you please make my search faster?
Searching for a place to eat is now easier than ever. While the easily-recognizable search bar stays, it’s packing a lot of intelligence behind the scenes. Just start typing what you want - whether it’s a restaurant, a cuisine, or a particular dish - and you’ll find the suggestions rolling in. So now, instead of typing “<restaurant name> Zomato” on Google, you can get more than you bargained for with the new Zomato search. To be honest, it doesn’t sound as cool when we talk about it, so we’d rather you see it for yourself.
Q: Can you reduce the number of low-value reviews on Zomato?
Now, for any restaurant, you will see three tabs for reviews:
- Popular: These are reviews that score the highest in terms of value, based on our algorithm.
- Following: This filters out everything else and shows reviews written only by people you follow.
- All: As the name suggests, this shows all reviews for the restaurant by everyone sorted in a reverse chronological order.
We will keep the low-value (junk/spam/fake) reviews away from you. P.S.: If you get junk from the people you followed, please unfollow them.
Q: Where’s my food journal?
Any food experience worth having is a food experience worth sharing. We’ve made it way easier to upload pictures while on the move (and we’ve also ensured that these features work as advertised :)). Add reviews for places you’ve been to, add to them with amazing pictures, using our dramatically improved photo filters. Tell the world where you’ve been eating, and let them follow your food journey.
Q: Can I know what my friends like?
Say hello to the Feed. It’s where you can see all the gastronomic activity of foodies you follow on Zomato. If you come across a place that looks interesting, you can add it to your Wishlist straight from the Feed. Over time, add every place that you want to visit to your Wishlist. Then, when you’re actually looking for a place, you can just swipe to the ‘In Wishlist’ section in search results, so you don’t need to spend time hunting through hundreds of options.
Q: Can you normalise a user’s ratings?
This has been now built into the system, to ensure that an overly positive or negative bias doesn’t affect the restaurant’s rating dramatically. We will adjust a user’s input for a restaurant according to his rating bias. For people who are always tough, their ratings will be adjusted upwards. For the ones who are always overly nice, their ratings will be adjusted downwards. You won’t see this directly, but it will affect the aggregate rating that we show for restaurants.
Q: There are too many restaurants clustered in the 3.0-3.5 bracket. Can you prevent this?
Yes, and this is a big change you will have to get used to. Now, we have ranked all the 221,000 restaurants on a normal distribution curve. Here’s what the change looks like. This should make it easier for all of us to decide where we should go out to eat. This is the most personalized Zomato has ever been. In fact, the new system allows each of us to create and own a mini-Zomato. There’s so much to bite into in this release, it feels like all our previous versions were made to whet appetites for this one. This is the big one; the main course. All this comes with a complete overhaul of the interface of the website and apps. More importantly, we’ve redefined the UX altogether. We’ve ironed out a lot of things to ensure that Zomato is super easy for everyone to use. You will also come across a few features we haven’t mentioned here, but hey - we want to leave something as a surprise ;) All these good things come with one small trade-off. To get to know you better and save your preferences to make sure that we can serve you what you’d like to see, Zomato will now be a login-only product. There will no longer be a “Nevermind” (that was a subtle Nirvana reference, for those of you who missed it) button at the bottom of the app login screen. But once you’re in, you’ll know why. We’ve pulled out the stops to make sure that you will love the new Zomato. So please take it for a spin, and let us know what you think. We are always listening at email@example.com or on Twitter