During a week-long design sprint, we designed Dream to Table, a new business accelerator program and local food competition concept for DoorDash. The goal of the program is to promote culinary and cultural diversity by helping aspiring restaurant owners open businesses in their community.
It can take years, even a lifetime, for an aspiring restaurateur to achieve their dream. And that winding road can be even longer and harder if they are a minority or member of a marginalized community.
Our team took part in a week-long student design sprint with DoorDash to explore new ways the company can support the push for social progress.
During that time, we 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.
At the end of the week, we presented our idea to members of DoorDash leadership and were chosen as finalists in the sprint challenge.
"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.
By helping aspiring business owners to get their project off the ground, and simultaneously inviting communities to take part, DoorDash can help welcome new cuisines and cultures to cities and towns across the country.
Not only that, this strategy sets DoorDash apart from the crowd of food delivery competitors by planting the brand's flag on a higher ground. The company can change the rules of the game by winning customer loyalty on the basis of something beyond convenience.
Before diving into ideation and coming up with solutions, our team took time to assess the problem, survey the industry and consumer landscape, and identify the most impactful areas to focus our energy during the short time period.
We used a shared Figma project as mission control for our entire design sprint. Everything from opportunity and mind mapping to wireframes and high-fidelity prototypes were built in the tool. Figma handled everything we threw at it. Running a remote design sprint was not easy, but the experience showed us the possibility to do great work at any distance.
In our kickoff with DoorDash, we learned 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.
Additional landscape research affirmed these factors, yet we also found an unrealized differentiation tactic — telling a different story that goes 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.
In ideating, we considered the problem from different perspectives to explore the most impactful solutions.
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.
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.
DoorDash Dream to Table is not a shipped product, so I do not have real-world outcomes to discuss. That said, I developed a few potential metrics to show how DoorDash might measure the impact of this work.
Potential performance metrics
We tested the new app experience with six 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.