In this edition of our popular Appy Hour series, we’re strapping on our bibs to dig into these tasty food apps! Let’s take a look at some of the biggest names in food and see where these apps are taking the cake, and where they could add a splash more spice. Because after all, who doesn't love food?
Taco Bell really takes top taco when it comes to creating a good looking app.
Everything from the photographs to the color palette looks like something out of a Katy Perry video (the classy kind, not the weird, confusing kind).The bright, lively, Pinterest-style images showcase young and free foodies playing with sparklers and proudly displaying their tacos as they participate in acrobatic maneuvers.
No bland stock photos here - instead, the Taco Bell app features high-quality, ultra-zoomed and cropped photos with Instagram-esque filters, matching the look and feel of the generation Taco Bell caters most to.
The app is quite gorgeous, even making the shameful act of ordering a Dorito Cheese Gordita Crunch with extra cheese interactive and kind of fun. The app’s good looks is more impressive considering that it’s on Android, as we usually get the bottom-of-the-barrel designs that are whipped up as an afterthought on Friday at 3:30pm.
In addition to practical ordering features, the app also encourages users to participate in games and puzzles that can earn them rewards, further building on the brand’s relationship to users.
If you want an app that’s functional and easy on the eyes, take a note from Taco Bell’s playbook.
When it comes to navigating food in the digital age, Domino’s is often at the helm - from emoji and voice-activated ordering, to online pizza trackers (which I’ve spent many minutes raptly studying in anticipation). Domino’s knows how to speak to their young, hungry, sometimes inebriated audience.
The Domino's app doesn’t beat around the bush - your two main options are putting in an order for delivery or pickup. This is a great example of focusing on your business’s main call to actions. Other less important options are minimized beneath the main buttons.
When it comes to creating a pizza at Domino’s, there are many options to consider: do you want hand tossed crust or Brooklyn style? What size? What kind of toppings - and on half or the entire pizza?
Domino’s manages to give hungry pizza lovers all the tools they need to build their own pie without overwhelming them. Users are guided with screen flows, scrolling, and additional input options that expand upon click.
All in all, the Domino’s app does what it needs to, making it super easy for pizza pursuers to get their deep dish delivered.
Sonic is a food app complementing their brick-and-mortar drive through locations (or more appropriately, their drive-and-park locations).
The app lets you find nearby chains, allows for mobile payment, account credit top-offs, and shows special deals that app users have access to.
Sonic’s food photos contrast sharply against those of Taco Bell. While Taco Bell uses closely cropped images of food in action, the Sonic app prefers to rely on classic, clean food imagery shot from a distance.
Both strategies have their place, and while I don’t know the particular market Sonic seeks to go after, it’s worth considering that certain image styles might appeal to some audiences over others. While the Instagram-esque photos of Taco Bell appeal to younger generations, Sonic’s traditional food photos will likely jive better with fans of the old school American drive-in.
While lacking some of the fancier flair of Taco Bell, the Sonic app gets the job done and doesn’t bloat itself with any unnecessary features. Die hard drive-in fans won’t want to eat without it!
Dunkin Donuts’ latest app features a slick new redesign and handy features that are sure to delight those who “run on Dunkin’.”
The apps gives easy access to saved Dunkin cards, where you can top up or auto-renew your account. Users can simply tap the “My Card” option and hand over their QR code screen at the drive through window - no more digging through the car console for quarters while workers awkwardly stand by.
The Dunkin’ app also displays a user’s special offers earned through DD Perks, the Dunkin’ loyalty program. The DD Perks dashboard lets you see all your coupons and discount offers in a modern, Millennial-esque design.
The app also offers a location finder, an option for on-the-go ordering, as well as a menu section packed with nutritional information (although we don’t recommend looking through here if you want to indulge in a Boston Creme without guilt).
Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t let anything slide on the details - even the momentary loading screens provide cute, colorful spinning donuts, adding to the charm of this useful coffee app.
Dunkin’ Donuts provides a solid example of a food app done right - it’s attractive, functional, and reliable. With pumpkin iced coffees here for the fall, no doubt the Dunkin’ app will get all the action it deserves.
Chipotle features a slick, practical app designed for ordering everything from burritos to bowls.
The Chipotle food app achieves its main goal - making it easy for users to put in mobile orders and customize their burritos with everything from double meat to a dollop of delicious guac.
I also appreciate how Chipotle makes it easy to see what ingredients are free, and which will cost you extra dough (burrito puns are best served hot).
The only aspect of the app that I found to be a little off were some of the pop up screens.
In-app screens are great for prompting users to perform certain actions, and applause goes out to Chipotle for using them (most apps don’t implement them nearly enough).
However, one in-app screen I received prompted me to add an item to my bag while I was in the very process of making a selection to add to my order, which actually distracted me from the ordering process.
Situations like these show why it’s important to keep track of where users are in your app funnel, and ensure that you’re showing appropriate messaging.
Instead of the in-app screen I was prompted with, it might have made more sense for Chipotle to use a in-app screen to ask me if I wanted to add chips and guac to my order for 20% off (yes and yes).
One thing I would love to see Chipotle add to their app is the option to learn more about Chipotle’s ingredients, especially considering that the quality of the food is one of their biggest selling points.
In the brick-and-mortar locations, it’s no problem for me to ask the burrito assembly line workers what exactly is barbacoa, but in the app, there’s no human help.
Between carnitas, barbacoa, and sofritas, there are quite a few ingredients that may not be familiar to every eater, so I think it’d be handy to add an info button feature for the next Chipotle app update.
All in all, the app is a solid staple that heavy Chipotle fans will no doubt enjoy.
The Starbucks app is a favorite of those who don’t consider their day truly launched without the aid of a dark roast.
Back when I lived within a block of a local Starbucks, I used the Starbucks app on a daily basis. The app has gone through several generations as Starbucks seeks to build upon their often already loyal fan base.
On the main home screen, user reward points (“stars” in Starbucks language) are shown up top in the prime real estate, with other app capabilities displayed in the expanded navigation menu. The rest of the home screen is devoted to Starbucks announcements and “news,” such as the announcement of new fall Frappuccino flavors.
The Starbucks pay option is the small green button located in the bottom right hand corner. While this is obvious for Starbucks app natives, I do question whether it might make more sense to reposition the pay option (being arguable the most important feature) as a larger and more obvious call to action beneath the star counter, replacing the non-essential coffee announcements.
Starbucks cheerfully displays nutrition information in their app, which is handy for health conscious eaters.
The Starbucks app also featured a “Music” tab, which lets you lets users listen to the tunes played in Starbucks, but in your Spotify app.
The app lets you favorite songs that you hear in a Starbucks, and that will influence which music Starbucks chooses to play in the future. This is one example of the new and innovative ways Starbucks seeks to engage with users and how much the company values its fans’ input.
In the end, Starbucks is a fine food app for paying at your local coffee conglomerate, and has some pretty interesting add-ons to engage with fans in different ways.
What are your favorite food apps? What features do you delight in, and what aspects drive you crazy? Let us know in the comments!
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