How do users find food on the app? — a UX case study

Ryda Rashid
3 min readJan 3, 2023

Search is an important function that connects users with the system- the user submits a keyword, then the system provides a set of results.

By improving search usability, we’re aiming to help the users find what they want faster, which will increase our conversion rate on the restaurant page and the percentage of items successfully added to the cart.

What problems are we trying to solve?

We want our users to find a specific food type quickly.

Hence, we’re striving to improve the search experience where we’re focusing on;

  1. Finding ways to improve search accuracy
  2. Helping the users when they spell the wrong keyword
  3. Giving users more options when there’s no search result.

How do we solve them?

We started with a simple competitor analysis to see how other apps design their search features. Then we created a journey map to explore possible situations. After that, we came out with the first design iteration and went for a review within the team.

First Iteration

Search screen: (Left) first-time user, display popular searches and all cuisines. (Right) Returning user, recent searches added to top.
(Left) Search screen: display suggested keyword based on user type. (Right) Search result: displays all relevant search results according to the user’s type.

Of course, the first iteration wasn’t perfect. But it’s a good start. To make sure our design really serves the users’ needs, we needed a little help from the researchers for the user testing.

We took 2 weeks to test the first iteration with participants from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

The objective of our testing was to understand how users search for food. Also, we’d like to;

  1. Identify users’ expectations in different contexts: searching for brands, searching for food type or when there’s no results.
  2. Evaluate if users know how to use the search feature in restaurant screens.
  3. Understand how users group food subcategories under main categories
Remote user testing

Here’s our findings from the user testings:

  1. Some users want to explore new food, some just want to find the same food quickly.
  2. Users don’t really use search on the restaurant page. They don’t mind exploring and seeing more food choices there.
  3. When there’s no or little search result, users want to see other restaurants.
  4. Halal and Non-halal are important for Malaysian and Indonesian users, but not so much for Thais.
  5. Thai users expect to see the same results, when they’re searching with Thai and English characters.
  6. Distance’s an important factor for Indonesian users because the area’s large.

Based on the findings, we prioritised tasks with the product manager and made the following changes in the second iteration.

Second Iteration

1. Remove ‘All cuisines’ section in search page (both first-time User & Returning user).

2. Remove the suggested search CTA since the user did not notice it at the beginning and improve the search page.

3. When there are no results or less than 5 results, display 'Recommended for you’.

Next step:

We’re planning to track the users’ behaviours and look for insights to enhance this feature in the future.



Ryda Rashid

Product Designer at Airasia. To help aspiring designers and design students, I write.