A Usability Test for Yelp’s iOS Application

Using Primary User Feedback to Improve Yelp’s User Experience

Yelp is a phenomenal local reviews application where you can find almost any business within a certain proximity. After doing a quick usability test, users revealed a few issues within Yelp’s iOS Application.


Identify the pain points of Yelp’s results screen, local business profile, and search screen.

Test Parameters

What: Yelp iOS Mobile App
Who: Existing Yelp users on iOS
Where: Primary Research(in-person), @yelp_feedback Twitter Account

Test Tasks

  1. Searching local destinations
  2. Viewing local destination profiles
  3. Finding Reviews

These tasks are the basic functions in Yelp which is why they were chosen for this test. Tasks will be asked in open-ended questions so I can identify issues and prioritize them. All of my notes will be organized below for analysis.

Primary Research

For this usability test, three interviews were conducted and a Yelp Twitter Page was set up to gather feedback. The Twitter Page proved least effective in getting feedback, but nevertheless provided some interesting tidbits about the search UI.

Let’s Process the Feedback

Reviewing notes, identifying the usability issues and prioritizing them:

Usability Issues by Search, Onboarding, Reviews, Profiles

Findings: Two critical issues, One small issue

Profile Screen

Reviews are difficult to get to, it is not obvious to touch the reviews bar on the top.

“I have to go to the bottom of the screen to see reviews. It should be at the top.”

Two of the interviewees’ interactions with finding reviews was to keep scrolling to the bottom. After showing them that you can press the review bar at the top, they immediately understood those were buttons in disguise. The expectation was that the review ratings bar was not clickable and hence the scrolling.

People don’t know whether to click on that review ratings bar.

Recommendation: Allow users to click the review ratings in a way that is not invisible to the eye. A redesign could be as simple as adding a border around the review ratings which will signify a button.

Search Screen

Users think searching the same food items is tedious.

“There should be a way to lookup previous searches, kinda like Linkedin searches”

The case was brought up when I asked the interviewee to search for three different food categories. She was able to search all of your three, but after wanting to revisit the first search she had to manually type her search again.

People want an easier way to search previous entries.

Recommendation: Users have the ability to search “previously viewed searches”. This would be visible in the category section when users input a place/food item.

Results Screen — Small issue

Redundant numerical information displayed which provides little value.

“Is there a point to the numbered list? Does it follow a structured ordering?”

This was a minor issue from the Yelp_Feedback on Twitter. One user wanted to know the significance of numbering the entries and said it provided little useful information. With the removal of numbered lists, you can put more actionable icons like a red/green circle to signify when the business is open or closed.

Design Suggestions

So after the usability test, users want to know how to get to reviews faster. They want the option to save previous searched queries, and want actionable insights instead of redundant information. The potential solution is designed below.

  1. Add borders to simulate a button for a review list
  2. Add a “previously searched” row in the search screen
  3. Remove redundant info in the results screen
New Profile Design
New Search Design
New Results Design

**I don’t work for or represent Yelp, maybe in the future. I’m just a product guy who loves to help companies make better products. Yelp is my go-to product when I’m out with friends, so why wouldn’t I want to improve it. I’m currently a PM at WeBeam, started Open Product Management on Github, and developed 4 iOS Apps.