Eater aims to be the first place you go for obsessive coverage of restaurant and food world news. Their maps serve as dining guides that focus on what makes a place distinctive, highlights unique or under-represented locations, and cover well-known places with a fresh editorial perspective.
Eater’s map feature had not evolved since its introduction in 2015. We started with the editorial challenges at hand — better emphasizing Eater’s unique value — strong, diverse editorial and curated lists versus aggregation algorithms and crowd-sourced reviews.
With maps receiving more than a third of Eater’s traffic, we were also tasked with improving recirculation to increase impressions and shares.
Balancing editorial & user utility
I worked with our User Research and Analytics teams to understand current pain points and how people use the maps. On this project I truly fell in love with the value of user research, and facilitated many of the interviews myself.
Our research surfaced several challenges, and working with the Eater editorial team, we identified key areas to evolve the new experience.
People were unclear how to explore more content from map pages. They felt disconnected from the rest of the site content, and next steps — like viewing a restaurants website, booking a reservation, or getting directions — were difficult.
The other key insight was two distinct use cases. One group views the maps as editorial reviews and enjoyed reading Eater’s latest coverage of their city’s food scene. The other used the maps more actively, they were using the guides to find a place to eat.
We designed an experience that gives the user control over how they interact with the content. Our final product provided a focus on the editorial content without sacrificing the utility that users wanted when making a dining decision — sharing the reviews with friends, finding related guides, making reservations, or getting directions.
Thanks to the editorial vision of the Eater staff and insights from our user research, we were able to strategically evolve the experience to better meet their publishing needs and optimize their user’s experience at the same time. I wrote more about this in the launch post here.
The recirculation patterns we introduced increased page views 3x across Eater’s network of 25+ city sites.
We built this map experience using Vox Media’s design system, Chorus. As a result, the feature was later able to be extended across Vox’s network of 350 sites.