Hungry Bangalore!!

iDeas gaLore as you all know is the current avatar of my blog. The first post of this new avatar is about a concept brought about by a couple of my batch mates. I am referring to "Hungry Bangalore" . It is run by two folks, with passion to be on their own and make a difference. The concept is simple, timely and from what I hear efficient. It goes like this, any one with a hungry belly will land up at Hungry Bangalore selects his(i am not gender biased) favorite restaurant, make an order and watch the TV or surf the net (for people like me), or do some useful work till the food arrives at the door step. Yes It's that simple. Not only this you can also plan a party, search for a recipe, review the service, and if lucky enough win a t-shirt.

Being a food freak and a lazy single, I love this idea. A great thing about this site is they don't ask you register before you order, I bow to the founders for this simple yet bold decision. They now have over 150 restaurants on their site, isn't it awesome. I select Airport Road and get the list of restaurants near by, I can either get the food delivered (provided the restaurant offers the service) or can book a table. Another cool feature is the map. You can choose the area you want to by clicking on the Bangalore map. The review and feed back section tells you all about users experience.

The recipe section interests me, with a host of recipes posted. That best part is you can post your recipe too. Wow, If not on my blog, I can find some audience for my culinary experiments. The best part about the site that makes me go back again and again (unfortunately I am not in Bangalore to give them business) is the simple uncluttered interface, more on this latter.

Mind you folks, I am not praising them just because I know them, it is because I just love this concept. I have been reading off late, a lot about user interfaces, it made me think on whats right with the interface of "Hungry Bangalore" and where all they can improve. What does my analysis reveal? In spite of being a great fan of their interface, I find it falls short on many fronts. Some simple and some not so simple things will make it a truly great experience.

Hello!!I am not a great hand at design, but I try to answer one question, "How easy is it for my mom to use a site?". (My blog falls short awfully on this test, I am on the way to fix it. Suggestions are welcome).

I take up one issue at a time, tell you what is wrong with it and how it can be improved.
The first and foremost thing is what is the Hyundai advertisement doing on your front page? I guess this site is into food. First it is right next to the site header, think of what message it sends to your users. Not only does it fit into the color scheme, but also your business.

I click on the plan a party link, it goes to a new page. Great it's simple and just two clicks for me to plan my party. The problem is, instead of asking me to ensure that I give all the details, ensure that no message is sent with incomplete details. It will reduce load on your mail server and also ensure that I get it right the first time.

I am still at plan a party. After sending my request, I am still in the same page. Nothing wrong with it, except that I am using a 800*600 resolution screen and can't seem to find the link to go back to home. Initially I was flustered how you guys can get this wrong, but later I find that you have a nice home sitting in the top right corner. Great stuff! only put it to top left corner.

I will get back to contact us later, now will jump to Recipes. Folks frankly you need to spice up this area. I can find the recipes here by googling. Being a food freak I want something more, not a list of ingredients and a list of ten steps on how to proceed. Let the creativity of the viewers come in. Let the viewers post on how they made a wonderful dish last evening. Let them post the photos, let others comment it. Make it a place for all food junkies to discuss their prized culinary skills. I love this blog by annie, check out this post on pies. I just can't wait to get to my kitchen to try this. In short bring in the pizzaz and personal element in this section.

The FAQ's very essential for a site like yours. Good that you folks gave the necessary details. Try using peekaboo interface here (+/-) . Add some pictures than just plain text on how to go about using your site(my mom will be able to use it).

The other links is embedded in the column which looks like an advertisement and sounds as if it will take me outside the site. Rename it immediately. The color combination of the article though goes well needs rework, to suite an overall theme. The buffet takes me to a table of restaurants, offering buffet. Why is this information not available at the restaurant details? Its the traditional way of doing things. Static tables are past, make it dynamic in use. (More on presenting data in a later post)

Ah! I come to search, this is my pet topic. Drop boxes are passe, it's a pain for me to search through the list of a hundred different locations/restaurants in a drop box. Think different employ tag clouds (I will talk about tag clouds and how they can spice up an interface in a later post). I would replace the drop boxes with two tag clouds and a context sensitive search box (no need of a go button). Check out wikiseek and Quintura, the way they employ tags and context search is simply superb. Use cookies so that the next time I visit the site, it shows the restaurants from my last selection.

The "Advanced Search" link looks as if it takes me to a new link, put a (+/-) or some other symbol to tell the user that its a collapsible link and will not open a new page or take time to reload. Now why is this important? It is observed that users tend not to click on the links unless they really need it. One more tip, combine the above selection of clouds with a different clouds here. I guess it will be awesome. Why do you have the radio button? Isn't it redundant. If you see what I see there, you can do away with it.

Coming to the main section with the tabs. The home tab is good. Well utilized, to sell the idea. Why do you have the catering inquiry? Isn't it redundant and confuse with plan a party. Use consistent conventions across. The map feature is amazing as I said earlier. What applies to recipes and the buffet section applies to review section. It is not consistent, does not have date. The date feature helps the viewer to gauge the relevance of the comments(check this). Though it may reveal a bit about your site statistics, I still will go put the date. And please do something about those boundaries, it makes me feel as if I am reading a government tender(Too much, I should restraint myself).

Continuing with the review section, work on the links. Once I select the review for a restaurant, and I want to add a review I have to click on the link above(for which I might have to to scroll my page up and click a link). This is a pain, I would avoid it at all cost. Have a text box below the rating where it will auto save what ever one enters(use CATCHPA, you can do away with save!!). Put another text box for name. It makes life simpler for me to give feedback or write a review. I reiterate do away with the drop box. It simply will not do.

If there is one thing I have no complaints against , its the announcement tab. It is just right. But it would be nice to have a preview feature for the links to the news articles. (Call me impossible to please -:) ).

God!! I am tired of writing. This probably the single largest piece of document that I have written at a stretch after my Final year thesis. Any way let me continue and finish of with what I feel are the last but nevertheless important sections.

Coming to what I left out earlier Contact Us, it serves the purpose. Use CATCHPA, else you will get lots of junk in your mail servers. After I go to an area and a restaurant, I can see again a table (I just seem to hate them). Why do you have that Rs.0.0 as if its a bata showroom with a price tag Rs.99.99. Just give an integer price. Why is the min order column there if there is no home delivery from that restaurant. Revamp this section. It's not an absolute must, but it adds to overall perception in the viewers mind. It would be nice if you can add the restaurants picture (Entrance, interior,any a flickr link).

Moving on to the menu offerings, I see that you folks are working on adding images to each link. Also a nice way to say if the item is veg or non-veg. That is great. I hope you get it done fast. I have talked enough about tables so will not mention them here. Now if the menu runs over one page, I see the page1, next links to the bottom left corner, it will be more convenient to have it towards the bottom right corner. The left corner with various sections is bland, work on to spice it up. Put images, animations, art, or what not. Don't just leave it like that.

If I select an item and say add to cart, you have the view my cart at the top right corner, it might serve more useful purpose at the bottom right corner or at both the places. Once I proceed, why do I need the recalculate button, are you not confident!!. Work on the colors here, I should not miss the final Total.

I will come back to the main page. What message are you sending by putting advertisements over and above your site announcements? It is totally out of place. Some suggestions, do away with the formal(search criteria entered was) and technical language(Email Id is a required field).Show your passion, don't be modest.

Try video reviews, video recipes, make Hungry Bangalore the first stop for food. Make it the first place for people like me when I think of eating. I would love to see this venture create a paradigm shift.I thank you folks for providing a site which I could go through exhaustively (I might have missed a lot, do let me know ;) ) and hone my skills in design. Thanks to many of you who took the pain of going through this long boring monologue.

A few last words to both of you and also to host of other people (if any) who read this post. I know how passionate you all are about your venture. It' s great, but show the same passion in your website (must if you are Web based). Check this company called PicSquare , they have a great website which is one of the few sites that I find are very easy to use. Another thing before I close is don't be too corporate type. You folks are entering the lives of people, so be like them talk like them, use lingo, no dictionary words, make viewers, part of your site, don't make them feel as if you are a third party providing service. Make them feel you are a part of their life. Bring life to your site, Spice up if you are already living.