People who aspire to own their own restaurant may take years or even a lifetime to achieve that dream. And the road is even long and harder if they face long-standing inequities as a minority or member of a marginalized community.
Our team took part in a week-long design sprint for DoorDash where we explored new ways that the company could support the push for social progress. In one week, our team concepted and prototyped Dream to Table, a new business accelerator program and local food competition which helps aspiring restaurant owners open businesses in their community.
We presented our idea to leaders in DoorDash at the end of the week and we were finalists in the sprint challenge. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and the client praised our implementable, scalable, and brand appropriate solution.
Brand research and strategy
Social media marketing
Design sprint – Live Client (Finalist)
1 week (Jan 2021)
Adobe Creative Suite
"Every Flavor Welcome" is a DoorDash slogan. But our research on the topic suggested that while every flavor of cuisine is, indeed, welcome to utilize the DoorDash platform, not every cuisine or cultural group has an opportunity in a city.
That said, further user research also showed that there is a growing desire among consumers to support more local businesses, particularly products and services offered by minority-owned companies. This became the guiding insight for our project.
DoorDash has a strong digital platform and a growing physical presence which they can use to give voice and opportunity to underrepresented groups. The app draws millions of users every day, and the emergence of delivery-only DoorDash Kitchens represents the company's effort to become a physical part of certain communities.
There is a desire among consumers to support local businesses, particularly minority-owned companies and products.
Dream to Table is a business accelerator and local food competition that leverages DoorDash's digital and physical assets to help aspiring restaurant owners open businesses in their community.
Dream to Table competitions can be held in any city with a Doordash Kitchen, with a focus on expanding to cities that have less diversity in their cuisine (and sometimes, their culture).
Our primary challenge, beyond developing the competition structure, was determining how to integrate the Dream to Table user experience with the existing app design. On one hand, we wanted to break the script enough to draw attention to the new feature. But we also wanted to provide the same seamless experience users have come to expect.
Ordering with DoorDash is a habitual act for many people. We wanted to break the script through visible but unobtrusive tactics.
On-load alerts and a new icon in the top navigation to entice customers to explore Dream to Table restaurants. The icon filter could be repurposed to a more general "Local" filter after the competition ends.
DoorDash allows local restaurants to reach more people, but that extended network comes at the cost of less face-to-face interaction with customers.
Since personality is often a local restaurant's biggest selling point, we made sure to feature photos of the competing chefs.
In addition to missing out on the personal touch of a local eatery, DoorDash customers don't get a chance to feel or compare the particular ambiance of each place.
New profile videos, accessed by tapping the restaurant thumbnail, allow customers to learn more about the cultures and cuisines within their community.
Dream to Table design elements to the existing restaurant thumbnails and restaurant pages to make them stand out.
Since each order counts as a point, customers can easily see their impact on the competition score. Repeated orders during the competition also earn them valued promotions like free delivery.
Food delivery has become a habitual act, especially with the massive uptick in usage during 2020. We knew that creating a buzz around Dream to Table would be an important part of the project’s success. Posts on social media, including organic posts and targeted ads in competition locations, will raise awareness and offer context about the event.
The promotional site lets people see the events in different cities, track the competitors progress, and learn about the competitors’ culinary and cultural history, as well as their dream to start a business.
For delivery customers, the final dropoff experience carries even more weight than the purchase process. We found an opportunity to personalize the experience with a custom bag and scannable Thank You card which links the customer to an Instagram filter to share their experience.
We tested the new app experience with several users familiar with Door Dash and delivery apps. Our research goals were to gauge user understanding of the Dream to Table concept as presented in the app experience, and to address any unwanted friction points we may have introduced into the ordering process.
A majority of users understood the concept through the combination of informational alerts and new design elements (e.g. banners, icons). A few expressed interest to learn even more about the competing chefs. In an effort not to clutter the app, we will rely on the marketing through various social media channels to support and tell the story and create awareness for users.
Landscape research suggested that delivery services are a category built on convenience. The feature set is largely commoditized across platforms, so customer loyalty is hard to come by. It’s generally passed back and forth on any given week based on the promotions available.
Room for differentiation comes from telling a different story. Going beyond delivery. DoorDash marketing touts the app as a way to explore your city through food, but looking at the app we saw the same focus on national chains featured in every other platform. Considering that 80% of Americans made an effort to order more from their favorite local small businesses in 2020, and 84% plan to make an effort to order more from local small businesses to support them in 2021.
Due to the short timeline, we conducted rapid primary research, talking amongst ourselves, along with friends and family, about our experiences using delivery services. Most concurred with our general market findings: that convenience and price was top of mind for people when choosing whether or not to order through a delivery service. At the same time, they showed a keen interest in supporting local businesses. Many even took the extra step to shop local, going out of their way to pick up food from a local restaurant, a habit which ran counter to the convenience focus.
In ideating, we considered the problem from different perspectives to explore the most impactful solutions.
We were conscious of the fact that any large gesture by a brand in the name of social progress could come off as inauthentic and opportunistic. With that in mind, we knew that community engagement and a sense of group participation would be beneficial to the solution.
Sketching the user flow helped us to explore different ways to present Dream to Table content in the app while remaining consistent with the design system.
After sketching out the user flow and wireframes of the new interactions, we moved straight to high-fidelity mockups in Figma. The speed of this transition was yet another benefit of using DoorDash’s robust design system. We kept our designs in line with DoorDash’s current visual style, so the majority of our decisions centered on bringing attention to Dream to Table features for both new and habitual DoorDash customers.
The sprint format was very intense and challenging but everyone in our team was highly motivated and was able to develop a product / campaign that we are proud of. Competing for a large client like DoorDash was exciting, and their feedback boosted our confidence in our thinking and our process.
We spent the first half of the sprint to do research and ideation, and ran by our work-in-progress ideas with our mentors and users to get validations. Even though the idea is not fully cooked, I learned that getting feedbacks in early stage is important especially when we are working with the tight schedule.