Keeping true to my word, more on how Menuito came into being. In this post I’ll share the vision that set the course and informed the design decisions along the way.
Menuito was really born out of the desire to make something minimal yet complete. When describing it as a project I would reach for something like:
A simple, well-made fix for the problems that restaurant websites have on smartphones, specifically for restaurants with self-hosted websites who don’t want or can’t afford to re-make their current websites.
And when talking about what I was out to accomplish, it came down to:
Make restaurants look good on mobile and help diners make better decisions about where to eat.
To turn it around, the key problem being solved was narrow, but significant:
a restaurant’s potential appeal and its critical information are often inaccessible on smartphones, frustrating or turning away interested diners.
So rather than making something ‘for restaurants’, I was really looking at two entangled stakeholders: the restaurant and potential customers. Menuito’s real goal took shape as the thing that would restore a connection between what a restaurant has to offer and the people who might go there. The mutually beneficial goal that unified the key stakeholders became:
Help restaurants make their best pitch, to influence the go or don’t go decision of a potential customer.
The Three Stakeholders
Along the way I had been thinking about the kind of day to day life I wanted after launching this thing. I was going to be subject to its design as much as anyone, and was wary of making something that would need more than I could give. In other words, it had to be minimal and sustainable for myself as well.
From that mix of research, thinking and soul-searching, the key value points of the vision took shape.
- Use existing web hosting without adding monthly costs or technical complexity
- Take control of content without learning a full CMS
- Communicate clearly to potential customers and get them in the door
- Buy it once, use it as long as you need it
For Diners with Smartphones:
- A restaurant website that works on the phone. Enough said.
- Don’t require 100% of my working time
- Make something that makes something better
- Build it with low financial investment and build after launch from revenue only
- Be able to walk away without leaving anyone hanging
And since I believe in designing for the worst as well as the best:
With a handle on the human and business problems being solved by addressing a point where technology wasn’t working right, I felt good about going ahead. On June 10, about a month after buying the domain, I decided to go with the name Menuito. A month later, I had agreements for financial support and buy-in from the rest of the team. It was on, like Donkey Kong.
Next Up: Information Architecture and Interaction Design