[interview] the project story
The Sydney Food Trucks app is all about helping hungry Sydneysiders find their nearest or favourite food truck!
Through the app, users can see the current and upcoming locations of nearly 20 food trucks throughout the Sydney's inner suburbs. There's menus, tweets and instagram pics from the trucks, a schedule of upcoming locations - and users can choose to get notified when their favourite truck is in the area, or when any truck is at one of their local haunts.
The app has been a boon for the operators of the trucks. They have their own app to set their location and current serving status, and a website to manage their menu and info screens.
The project was commissioned by the City of Sydney's far-sighted digital marketing team and executed by boutique agency We Make Apps.
City of Sydney
We Make Apps
The project team involved:
Mick Byrne - Android development and client liason
Mark Beaton - iOS development and technology
Simon Mathews - Visual design and user experience
The brief was only about two paragraphs long, and can be summarised as "build an app for people to find food trucks in Sydney".
The motivation behind the project was to kick-start Sydney's street food culture, which was falling behind other cities around the world. Committed staff within the City of Sydney set about ploughing through the administrative morass to find places for the trucks to serve, while We Make Apps was given a short brief and long leash to create a solution that was super-simple for City of Sydney staff, operators of food trucks (often out on the roads) and roving, hungry customers.
A key innovation in the Sydney Food Trucks app is the clever and seamless re-purposing of social media content. Research into food trucks in other cities around the world showed that these were not your normal restauranteurs - running a food truck means you're out on the road and serving at different locations, sometimes moving a couple of times each day.
The successful food trucks had completely embraced social media, usually their twitter feed was their marketing, menu, location and opening hours all at once. We Make Apps chose to massively leverage those social media feeds, with all tweets and instagram pics from the food trucks appearing in one consolidated feed in the main page of the app. Info was grouped for each truck, but deliberately ordered with the latest posts at the top to encourage the food trucks to compete for top spot with more content.
For the trucks, it meant they didn't even have to change their existing marketing to get their info into the app, while for users it meant fresh and relevant content.
This app was a great user experience challenge - it had to have maps, right at the forefront, but it also needed the social feed for the trucks. Balancing these two top-priority needs was a challenge and there were few, if any, existing models to copy.
Our great innovation was a split-screen view, with the top-half showing the map with all trucks identified, and the bottom half showing a combined feed of all the tweets and instagram pics from the truck operators. Dividing these regions was a bar that users could slide or flick to switch between views or see both at once.
The app has been a massive success for the City of Sydney and for the food trucks themselves. It was featured by Apple as 'App of the Week' and selected as Best of 2013 in the 'Disruptive Services' category. Downloads have remained consistently high with regular and consistent use.
For the City of Sydney, it has cemented their reputation as one of the most agile and forward thinking government agencies in Australia. While for We Make Apps, it remains one of the most successful apps we've developed.
This award celebrates innovation and creativity in design of a unique user experience in the combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactive content for mobile. Consideration given to clarity of communication and the matching information style to audience.