Design and UX for a mobile app to help users find discounts at local restaurants

"First we eat, then we do everything else"

Club Fifty wanted to develop an app to enable restaurant discounts for new members. The concept was that customers would pay a small monthly fee to get a digital membership card that would give them significant discounts (i.e. “fifty off”) from participating restaurants. I was contracted out by the software developer to develop the inital user experience and visual design of the app.

I quickly learned that there wasn’t much direction for the app outside of the initial stated need, so I did some early requirements gathering and discussed potential directions with the client and developer. I also did some market research into other food and restaurants apps that were either directly or tangentially related (Yelp, Door Dash, and Open Table), and this competitive analysis revealed a few consistent features across all these apps. All of them included some sort of search or "nearby" functionality as a primary function as well as a review or rating system for users to give feedback on their restaurant visits.

Club Fifty search screen
The simplified userflow for the Club Fifty mobile app

Developing the content

As the project progressed it became obvious that I was designing more of a starting proof of concept than a fully developed product. The client was focused on the sales side and never seemed interested in providing details nor helping to clarify the exact requirements, and the business model didn't seem to be fully fleshed out. The overall viability of the app and the infrastructure needed brought up a variety of questions that I wasn't able to get answered.

With that and the limited budget in mind I worked out a few use cases and nailed down key functionality to include in the app based on my earlier competitive analysis. I decided to focus on providing four basic functions: proximity to nearby restaurants, an activity/history log, a search function, and a scannable benefits card. From there I created a low level user flow to make sure I wasn't missing any key pieces, then started designing screens to present to the client.

Design and deliverables

In the end I delivered several different series of screens to the client, including a sign up flow, activity screen, multiple search screen options, and a scannable "My Card" screen with QR code.

After my time on the project I never recieved any updates on further development, though it does appear that a mobile application based on at least some of my design was developed. As I can't find any evidence that the app is currently active, I'm guessing that my initial concerns about restaurant participation and whether there was a viable market for the product were probably correct.

Sign up screen
Nearby participating restaurants
Club Fifty restaurant reviews
Club Fifty recent activity
Club Fifty scannable QR code card

Wrapping up

Given more time and budget I would have done research with restaurant managers and staff to explore how customers use discounts, where they see opportunities, and what sort of coupon and discount models have worked for them in the past. The lack of information from the restaurant side left a variety of unanswered questions that I had to make my best guess on.

Time talking with potential users to find out how they find new restaurants to visit and what influences their choices would have also been very useful, and I would've used that information to focus on designing and prototyping more effective and detailed search and review functions in the app.