Failing is OK

Our app was too confusing, hard to use, and inconvenient. Here’s what we’ve learned.

Carlos Rivera
Aug 12, 2015 · 3 min read

We’ve just finished launching a huge update, some might call it a pivot, to Requested, so I’m taking this time to reflect on the lessons learned.

Requested was a mobile app that let you name your own price at local restaurants via real time requests. In under 10 minutes you were guaranteed an answer from the local merchant (Priceline for Restaurants).

Sounds cool, right? Well, if you like this idea, you’re just like top investors in Silicon Valley and just about everyone else we’ve come in contact with. We built a prototype, launched on stage at the Launch Festival, got great press, and thought everything was going smoothly. Except that for our users, requesting a reservation generated more problems than smiles.

1. Realize when it’s time to change.

“…a product is only as good as its ability to co-opt behavior.” — Jason Hreha

Requested’s mission is to “put butts in seats” and we bet on the idea of a name your own price engine for restaurants; it sounded great! We made a bet and stuck to our guns, Requested was going to work! Until it failed to put butts in seats. We let the idea of a cool feature cloud our vision on what our users really wanted: to eat now. The name your own price feature introduced more steps, more thinking, and more uncertainty than we expected. It was an interesting feature, but ultimately too confusing. The concept of dynamic pricing was right on the ball, our users loved it, our merchants loved it, but our approach was not working. Our product was not worth it and therefore our users dropped off.

2. Simplify all the things.

“Requested has too much cognitive load.” — Sam Shank ( Hotel Tonight )

This quote was the broken record that we kept hearing over and over. It took about 10 steps to get a request out, with about 50% chance of getting a request accepted. More steps equals more areas where users can drop off and go use another product. The cliché we all hear “do one thing right” turns out to be correct.

Remember: “If it isn't simple, it won’t succeed.” — Megan E. Holstein

3. Design for emotions.

The realization that Requested was not fun hit us hard: users hated waiting up to 10 minutes only to get a “no” half the time, and merchants hated saying “no”.

It turns out hunger and time were the biggest reasons why users would never return. Let me tell you, when my girlfriend is hungry, ain’t nobody got time to wait! A speedy process of booking a reservation is what our users really wanted. It was about time we started listening to them.

Pivoting feels so good!

So were pivoting by removing the name your own price feature. We’re still a restaurant reservation app with uber-fied payment (tip included), but we figured out a way to keep our dynamic pricing for restaurants by giving them more control, simplify the process for consumers from 10 steps to 2 (speed), and guarantee a yes 100% of the time (happiness).

The decision to pivot mostly came from listening to user feedback. Both types of users: merchants and consumers. With the new Requested, expect to effortlessly book a table and pay on your phone. No more waiting, no more uncertainty. We hope you love it!

Want to know more? Follow us on Twitter or Facebook!

Thanks to The Red Rabbit and Jon

Carlos Rivera

Written by

Co-founder, Product & Design @Requestedapp. UI/UX, JS Chops,

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