Yelp is one of the most useful websites on the internet — well, to me it is at least. It aggregates crowd-sourced user reviews about different businesses and establishments and makes them available for anyone to search and review. Users are encouraged to upload images of the products, services, and experience, and also give in an overall rating of an establishment.
The structural design of yelp.com allows users to complete its most basic task: search. Yelp is interesting in that it doesn’t push the user to log in or become member in order to use its services. Its no-nonsense approach is made clear by how prominent the search features are displayed, and how easy it is to begin using the website. If a user knows exactly what they’re searching for, those no need to explore beyond the fold of the page.
Searching is easy — a user inputs the good or service into the search field, then indicates what location they are looking into. Then they click the search button, which is indicated by a magnifying glass set on a red background and search results appear
Search results with the most relevant establishments are presented, which include a high-level overview of the business name, overall rating score, business info, type of establishment, and price point. User can scroll through the list and choose which option best suits what they are looking for.
If a user encounters several establishments that they would like to save for the future, they may sign in or create an account to bookmark these businesses for later.
Information architecture plays a key role in how search results are organized, which pays off in providing a seamless experience for the user.
First, let’s take a look at how a business is previewed in the search results — we’ll use one of my favorite places as an example: A & J’s Restaurant. As mentioned above, all the necessary information needed to make a split second decision is available at a glance. Name, rating, type of food, and location. Review previews are also available, as well as phone numbers. The map also provides the user with an idea of where the business is located geographically, to help them determine its distance.
The otonomy of the site makes the following elements clear to a user: the type of cuisine and major keywords (Chinese, Taiwanese), and how well the restaurant is rated (4 of 5 stars).
The taxonomy of the site ranks results based on relevancy of the keywords and locations specified in the search parameters. In this case “dumplings” was searched for in the city of Irvine. The first 2 results are paid advertisements that are establishments that sell dumplings. The first official result renders high review ratings of 4 of 5 stars, but because it has the word ‘dumpling’ in its restaurant name, it’s likely that is why it was prioritized as #1 in the area. Followed in search result #2 is A & J’s which is a chinese/taiwanese joint that specializes in dumplings and noodles. WIth a whopping 1456 reviews and a solid 4 out of 5 stars, and with its relevancy to the search area, yelp organized the placement of this result to be placed at the top end of the results pages.
The choreography of the site is consistent all the way through — from the search page, to the results, to the actual establishment page with its photos, reviews, and business information. It would be quite difficult to get lost on a Yelp business page. The filter options are also readily available at the top of the results page for easy updating.
Yelp uses a variety of standard patterns that users are able to easily identify, making the use of their site easy for all users from occasional to heavy users. Search functionality on the home page is as standard as it gets, plus with only needs the type of business and business location to do a search, the experience is extremely simple.
Filtering uses basic buttons: price point, open now, delivery, pickup, and more filters. Users can search by: best match, highest rates, and most reviewed with a simple click. Lastly, checkboxes are available to indicate nearby cities, distances, price points, features, and categories — all to help a user filter down what they are searching for.