How to create a restaurant finder app like Zomato or Yelp

Food is one of the basic human needs, but with an emphasis modern society puts on eating healthy, sophisticated and yet quickly (we have so much to do besides eating!) restaurants are often the place to go when we need a bite. Restaurant search apps like Zomato or Yelp use a location-based approach to help you find places to eat nearby. How to create a local restaurant search app? Let’s find out.

Functions for a restaurant finder app

Let’s identify what functions a restaurant search app needs to be useful as well as easy and fun to use:

  • Registration via social networks — with easy registration people will be using your app in minutes!
  • User profile — a place to see all the reviews you left and to make friends.
  • Location-based search and suggestion — a core function for a food finder.
  • Restaurant profile — here users can learn whether any of that hip closest restaurants is actually serving the food they like.
  • Adding to favorites/saving for later — make it easy for users to save nearest places to eat they like or want to check out later.
  • Calling from the app — booking a table in food places nearby should be easy.
  • Rating and leaving a review — in users’ eyes there’s nothing more convincing than an honest review of the best restaurants nearby.
  • Adding user photos or Instagram integration — images are quickly processed by the brain and add an additional appeal to food apps.
  • Admin panel — a place for managing and moderating content for your restaurant locator app.

Prototyping a restaurant finder app

Neatly designed Home screen is an essential component of a restaurant search app. Taking into account the nature of the app, search should be in the heart of it. Here’s how it looks like in Zomato and Yelp:

Home screen for a restaurant finder app

If the city is big enough, choosing from a list of places nearby can be hard, even with restaurant ratings and reviews being available in your food finder app. So you also need to provide some suggestions (top places for lunch, if it’s a lunchtime or hottest nightclub if it’s Saturday night), as well as categories available, such as:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Drinks and nightlife
  • Takeaway

Another crucial screen is a restaurant profile. Here users should be able to see all the important data (restaurant ratings, working hours, menu and cuisine type, reviews) at a glance. Since images are quite important both for finding a place sign and choosing a right atmosphere, they should also be present on this screen:

Restaurant profile in the app like Yelp

Review screen should be very intuitive to encourage people to leave reviews:

Rate restaurant screen

Getting data for a restaurant finder

Data is in the core of a food finder app. Basically, you need a database of local cafes, diners and other eating places nearby. You can get those using Google Places API. But since Google prohibits usage of their services for creating your own content you can use it only if you specify where you get it from. And anyways, you’ve got to be ready to gather and process the data yourself or encourage users to do it.

New restaurant screen

As for the data, you should also decide whether you will provide restaurants access to their profiles so that they will be able to announce discounts, cross-post data from their social networks and build their fanbase inside your service. While users are most definitely the first to learn about a new hip coffeehouse that have just opened on their street, moderating and checking this kind of info might be quite time-consuming.

Coding a restaurant finder

Apart from coding basic functions while developing a restaurant search app you need to:

  1. Add registration via social networks. Just as with dating apps, registration via social networks like Facebook will encourage usage of real identities. In order to do it you will need to register a Facebook Developer account and add Facebook SDK to your food finder app or you can use SocialAuthHelper library developed by our team.
  2. Calling from the app. It is necessary for users to be able to book a table in the restaurant they like so adding a call button via Intent would be a great choice.
  3. Adding user photos or Instagram integration. While adding restaurant food photos made by users might look like a simpler solution, it will definitely increase an amount of storage you will need. Plus, many people cross post to various services anyway. In order to allow users to add restaurant and food photos from Instagram, you will need to register with a Instagram API Platform.
  4. Admin panel. What you put here depends on whether you grant restaurants access to page administration and whether users can add restaurants manually or it can only be done by the service admin.

Yelp for business

Conclusion

An exact set of functions for a restaurant finder app like Zomato or Yelp will depend on the scale, monetization model, the process you choose to use for adding new venues. You should also be aware that users come to your app for reviews and photos of interior and food so prior to launch your team has to prepare a decent amount of content so that your restaurant search app will provide enough value to its first users.

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About author

Android Developer
Sasha is a team lead of our mobile development team. He conducts regular meetings for analyzing code and summarizing lessons learned that help to keep high motivation and set clear personal development goals for each of the team members.

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