Seven years ago during middle school, I had my first internship with a local organization called “Davis Dollars,” a community currency dedicated to spending money at local businesses in my hometown. Davis Dollars didn’t really work, and people mainly bought the unique paper bills because of their bike-inspired design. But seven years later, I still haven’t stopped thinking about the future of small businesses.
I have been continually amazed by Bologna's vibrant local business culture. How could Yelp help make guests like me feel at home in new cities?
Fast forward to this fall, where I have been studying abroad in Bologna, Italy. Upon arriving, I discovered that the whole city was full of incredible, hold-in-the-wall shops and restaurants. The Bolognese people didn’t seem to be big Yelp users, so I resorted to word-of-mouth and line-of-sight methods to uncover hidden gems. Bologna has continually amazed me with its small business culture, and I have noticed how these businesses bring life to the community. (Here’s a documentary I made for a filmmaking class about one local Bologna program, Cucine Popolari)
In college at Santa Clara University, I’ve discovered my love for User Experience Design and Product Management, two roles that combine my interests in strategy, design and understanding human behavior. In my first few years, I have found opportunities to build UX design, video editing, curriculum writing, interviewing, marketing and podcast editing skills through jobs with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Equinix and starting my own podcast (more on these projects later). Interviewing and working with dozens of entrepreneurs, professors and professionals has showed me the collective hope, curiosity and nervousness that people share about the future of work.
UX Design combines my interests in business, visual storytelling and understanding how people act.
A few of my side projects. From left: layout design and graphics for Berkeley center's report, marketing materials for a startup coworking space, and a strategic plan for a local environmental consultancy.
I believe that a Product or UX Design internship with Yelp would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn from some of the best in the world about how to build local communities through design, and for me to contribute my own questions to the team. Below, I’ll share a few of my ideas for improving the Yelp user experience. Thanks for reading!
1. Distinguish popular neighborhoods or markets
Yelp’s current structure prioritizes individual restaurants and businesses over more cohesive neighborhood experiences. When visiting a new city, Yelp could show users vibrant and cool neighborhoods, shops or markets where users can spend time before or after their meal. If a restaurant is located near other local attractions, a badge could distinguish it from more out-of-the-way locations. A search filter could be added to allow users to search for great neighborhoods or attractions where they can spend their day.
2. Expand collections into “local business experiences”
One way to expand the collections feature would be to highlight groups of local businesses than can be seen or experienced together. For example, if a user wanted to explore a new neighborhood, they could “build an experience” by selecting a few interesting shops, a lunch spot and a dessert place located near each other.
3. Simplify the review process
One of the reasons why I haven’t used Yelp in the past few months in Bologna is because each restaurant has so few reviews that the product isn’t as valuable. To simplify the review process, Yelp could encourage users to tap on keywords or slide scales rather than write long paragraphs. Yelp could look into other ways to incentivize reviews with discounts or rewards.