AOM 2012 #6 – Toptable

Toptable is the website that I’m aiming to couple my new application for Facebook with. I use Toptable quite frequently, and I think it’s a really handy webiste to help diners choose where they would like to eat. By using their restaurant finder, you can input information like how many diners there will be, the area you would like to eat in and what cuisine you would like to eat. Another handy thing they ask you is how much money you would like to spend per person in the meal, thus allowing you to increase the price if it is a special occasion or decrease it if you’re just going for a quick dinner.

One of the things that makes Toptable good is that it doesn’t just focus on major cities. You can type in your desired town, and it will bring up places around there. This is one of things that it does better than Urbanspoon and the reviews from Time Out. Even though you can search for restaurants in smaller towns however, it does not pick up all of them. Maybe the new service that my Facebook app would offer would encourage independent and even chain restaurants to register with the site so that they could be reviewed by their diners.

I like the way that Toptable highlights if there are any special offers with the many restaurants they display from the search engine. This helps potential diners decide whether they would like to go their or not and also means that expensive restaurants could now be within budget. This could be another feature on the Facebook app so that people can see where they would get the best deals.

AOM 2012 #4 – Urbanspoon

Urbanspoon is a restaurant where you can look at reviews and different restaurants in the city or area of your choice. They feature a ‘Talk of the Town’ section when you first open the webpage. As well as this feature, Urbanspoon categorises its restaurants as to their price range, helping users to determine whether they want to go there.

Regardless of how helpful Urbanspoon is, I find the website to be very busy with links all over. This doesn’t make the site very user-friendly and although there are a lot of reviews available from many different users and critics, their could be an argument that this lowers the quality of the writing because of the mass amount of user generated content on the site. This has made me think about the amount of user generated content that would end up on the Facebook app for Toptable in my own application and I think this could be a problem.

Because of this, I think that a star-rating should be employed on my application so that, regardless of the reviewers ability to write, the best restaurants will be viewable from the amount of stars it has been given.

AOM 2012 #3

Okay, so, I’ve been given the green light for my restaurant finder/review addition to Toptable which will like up with Facebook and maybe Twitter as well (I think it might be a little more difficult on that site though so that might not be the best idea). Now it’s time to start doing my research.

In the next few posts I’ll be looking at sites were restaurant reviews can be held already such as Urbanspoon, Time Out and food magazines that host them as well as the success that other applications have had on Facebook such as the Guardian and Independent article readers.

Another thing I’ve been told I should think about is some sort of incentive that will spur restaurant goers to write mini reviews and give feedback so their friends and family can see where they have been and what they thought. This incentive will probably be money off of some kind where, if you input your thoughts you get £5 off your next bill or something like that.

AOM 2012 #2

Well, I’m back a week later, still at the point of major confusion about most of the work I have to do for advanced online media.

The first task we have to complete is a presentation up to ten minutes long in which we have to develop and pitch a new online media idea/product/service. When I began thinking about this task, I thought that coming up with a brand new service, considering I’m on 20 and have no idea about what makes a successful business, was a reach too far for me, which left me thinking about what could I bring to an already existing company.

It was about two weeks ago now when my parents were talking to me about my 21st birthday plans (this isn’t until September of this year, however, my family like to plan ahead), and we decided that a nice restaurant that we had all never been to before, close to home, would be a good place to go for an evening. When I started looking for different places though, I had no idea where to start. The first thing I began doing was looking at my Tastecard application on my phone (This is an app that tells me which different eateries I can go to which will allow me to get money off), but I really struggled to find something. After no success with this, I started looking on the Toptable website which is a restaurant search engine were you can change certain aspects of the search (for example, how many diners there will be, how much money you want to spend per head etc..). My parents kept telling me to ask other people where they had been in our area and see if there was anywhere someone could recommend, and this is when an idea sparked.

Toptable don’t allow it’s users to post any reviews or recommendations they write to any of the social media sites. You can ‘like’ certain restaurants and places on the main website, but what if there was a way to connect Facebook and Twitter users with the site, in order for Toptable reviews to be accessed. How many times have you been looking for somewhere to go on a night out, or for food, and, because you don’t know whether a new restaurant is going to be good, you’ve ended up going to the same place you always go? People are sometimes afraid of change, but if the reviews are there, at the click of a button in an app on the sidebar of your Facebook timeline, or with a quick hashtag search on twitter, the best restaurants and bars that are near you will pop up because of recommendations from your friends and followers. Another thing Toptable offers is the ability to get money off certain restaurants through booking on their website and searching for restaurants with them. This would obviously be viewable on the Facebook and Twitter applications.

I’m not sure whether this idea is really what my tutors had in mind, but I suppose after talking to them today, I might be able to develop it a little bit. I know Urbanspoon, a similar website to Toptable, but not as well designed and user friendly in my opinion, has this capability where you can link up your Spoon profile to Facebook, so maybe there will be a little flaw in my idea. What can I say that Toptable will offer that Urbanspoon won’t?

I suppose having this little bud of an idea in my head is better than having nothing at all, but what’s the use of one little budding flower when nobody is going to help by watering it and giving it some light? (That was a pretty good analogy I think…)