To develop a successful ordering application for a major chain restaurant, the information technology director must carefully consider business requirements for all departments, and have a close oversight of information system managers to coordinate implementation of new policies and ensure productive use of new technical resources. With technology becoming more influential in purchasing behavior, it is important to consider the most efficient ways to facilitate customers in placing their orders and making dining decisions. According to a recent survey, the percentage of young people who believe that digital technology plays a significant role in their dining experience has almost doubled since 2012 (Technology for Restaurants, 2016).
Considering the growing demand for touch-screen interfaces among users of all types of informational appliances, it is reasonable to assume that a new wave of tech-savvy as well as less tech-versed customers would find the use of more user-friendly, multi-touch screens preferable to interaction with old, mouse-driven technology. Moreover, providing clients with a tablet, which would allow them to make an order and self-checkout without having waiters take their credit card away, would not only reduce the time of an average diner’s stay, but would also allow customers to have a unique tactile experience that is absent in point-of-sale systems. The positive emotional response for both customers and employees while using such a technology would make the former desire to become more frequent visitors of a restaurant, and allow the latter to better enjoy their working hours.
Gestural Interaction Types and Styles
There are two types of interaction techniques for multi-touch screens: multi-finger and whole hand. According to Moscovich (2010), both of these types of gestural interaction might be regarded as “simply an implement-free instance of keyboard command-shortcuts” (p. 15). Even though there are different kinds of multi-touch screens, each of which has its own method for determining touch locations and movement recognition, all of them share two main elements for defining gestures: the touch style between finger or palm and surface of a screen, and hand movement types (Songyang, Xiangan, Guohua, Yunxiang, & Peng, 2016). Depending on the contact between hand and surface, two kinds of touch styles may be recognized: continuous and discreet contact (Songyang et al., 2016). Both of them have different movement types as well. Continuous contact is a touch with only one finger, fist, palm, or half-palm. Discreet contact style allows touching with two to five fingers simultaneously.
There are three basic types of fingers movement across the surface of a screen: pressing, tapping, and dragging. Pressing means touching the surface of a screen for a short period of time. When tapping, a finger does not stay on a screen but rather is lifted immediately after touching its surface. Dragging includes touching with a short movement on a surface. It allows for a pinch-to-zoom gesture, which is a movement of two fingers closer together or farther apart while simultaneously touching a screen.
When designing a menu-ordering application for a restaurant, it is necessary to keep future customer satisfaction in mind. Regardless of whether it would be an Android, an iOS or a Microsoft app, the navigation should be seamless and intuitive. For the perfect dining experience, a digital menu must be organized in an accurate and attractive manner. To this end, the application would have two static bars on the bottom and top of the screen. The bottom tab would show all selected dishes and beverages. The top navigation bar would allow access to information on different menu items, suggestions, settings, and available payment methods.
The ordering application would contain a single page, so that all tabs will be easily accessible without a need to load additional pages. It would feature a real-time feed for positive customer feedback and most-popular menu items. While choosing from a menu, clients could sort out all meals and beverages according to dietary preferences, price, category, and ratings. They would also be able to see clear images of various dishes, as well as ingredients from which the dishes were prepared. The menu would also show the approximate time of order delivery. Having all important information conveniently at hand would allow customers to make their dining decisions more easily, thereby significantly improving their culinary experience.
Key Analogies and Concepts
Performing even the simplest computer task was once a challenging issue, reserved only for a technical specialist well-versed in the command-line interface. With the arrival of graphical user interface technology, which made possible direct manipulation of objects on the screen and allowed a user to perform even complicated, technical tasks, the usefulness of personal computers greatly expanded.
The use of symbols and metaphors instead of codes allows communication with the system on an abstract level and alleviates the necessity of having special expertise. The tremendous success of the Apple Macintosh can be accredited to the use of a desktop analogy instantly recognizable by everyone. Having an understanding of office supplies such as folders, files, and notebooks allows users to intuitively navigate through various tasks simply by using their prior knowledge and spatial awareness, rather than memorizing long lines of computer code (Why UX Designers Should Use Idioms, 2014). Therefore, employing the simplest graphical analogies would be the key to designing an easy-to-use, intuitive ordering application for a restaurant.
To design a basic model for a future program, it is important to understand the tasks that will be performed by the system. The task-domain objects within the application would include all necessary objects for accomplishing certain specific goals, such as leaving a review or placing an order, and also the domain of all actions that a user might perform. A simple analogy for a restaurant application would be a paper menu. To design an ordering system that would look like an ordinary menu is to provide users with the ability to use their prior knowledge to navigate through the new and unfamiliar system.
Memory Retention Utility
One useful utility for a menu-ordering application, regardless of whether it runs on a touch-based or a mouse-driven system, would be a function allowing the system to recognize a returning customer. This feature would make it possible for a restaurant to personalize its service for regular customers and provide a better dining experience. Having such a tool also opens the possibility for effective management of countless loyalty programs that might either rely on volume discounting or be based on general discounting. It would help restaurant staff to instantly recognize regular customers without having to ask whether they had dined in the facility before.
Providing clients with the ability to place an order using a tablet running a menu-ordering application would significantly improve customer relations with a major chain restaurant. It would also allow the staff to recognize the culinary preferences of their returning customers the minute they enter the venue, thereby providing the latter with better service.
Moscovich , T. (2010). Principles and Applications of Multi-touch Interaction (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Brown University, Providence, RI.
Songyang, L., Xiangan, H., Guohua, Z., Yunxiang, L., & Peng, W. (2016). A gestural interaction design model for multi-touch displays. Web.
Technology for Restaurants: Three ways to get the most out of an IT budget. (2016). Web.