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What are Gowalla & foursquare?
Gowalla and foursquare are location-based social networking
apps that let users do the following:
• Discover where your friends are hanging out.
• Add photos and comment on places you’ve visited.
• Collect badges and other awards when visiting places.
Gowalla also allows users to create and share “trips” which
are essentially lists of places. Trips can be viewed via the app
but they must be created on the Gowalla web site.
UX Review Goals
• Review design strategies & patterns
emerging among location-based
social networking apps.
✔ Used to indicate
• Suggest which of the above are
working well & which could use
improvement (Note color coding to ✖ Used to indicate
right). area that can be
• The goal is not to suggest that one
app is better than the other.
• Created in late 2009 by Alamofire
which is based in Austin, TX.
• Version 2.01 is included in this
review (March 12, 2010).
• Ranked #38 in App Store Social
Networking category as of March 29,
• Created in early 2009.
• Version 1.7.1 is included in this
review (March 13, 2010).
• Ranked #15 in App Store Social
Networking category as of March 29,
Sign up screens
✖ Asks for
a lot of info.
know how it
Activity/Friends: Shows places you & friends have visited.
✔ Users may
from this view.
✖ Must go
tab to add
Spots & Places: List of nearby places
✖ Leads to
alternative ways ✔ Search is
to find “Spots.” handy given
Better if these that the list
were integrated below may
into this screen. get long.
may go in
Spots & Places: Detailed place information
✔ Tasks are should be
prominent & tied into map
discoverable, which is
though last icon hidden under
is unclear. “Details”
✔ Hint within limit is
form is helpful. helpful.
✔ Big buttons
on both apps ✖ Doesn’t
won’t be seem
missed by possible to
users. link Twitter &
Passport/Profile: Shows places visited & badges earned
✖ Can edit
my photo by
tapping on it ✖ Goes to
but there’s no info screen
affordance! but icon is
for grid menu
them to show
✔ Good to
Support / Info Screens
app has rich
Error Messaging: Loss of Network Connection
✖ Text is
Add Spots / Places
less step for ✔ Map
and tip are
Gowalla Trips: List of places to visit
Trip list view Trip detail view
✖ I created
✖ Love the
but how do I
foursquare: Tips & To Dos
Tips tab To do tab
✔ Tab pointer
ties in well
empty nice to
✖ “Tips” tab is to add to do
but they are
# 1 Provide product education
Instead of showing a blank screen or “no
results” the apps could use this space to
explain feature benefits and usage.
Additionally, new users could benefit
from more information about the pins,
badges, stamps, and other awards on
# 2 When appropriate, strive for
feature parity between web site & app
There are a few web-only features which
would be appropriate in the mobile
context. For example, Gowalla allows
users to bookmark and share spots
online but not via the iPhone app.
Similarly, foursquare users can only
mark “to do” items on the web site but
not on the iPhone.
Tasks supported on Gowalla site
# 3 Keep users within context as
much as possible
Both apps have cases where the user
has to hunt for features or pogo back
and forth. As much as possible, try to
keep relevant tasks within context. For
example, foursquare should place the
“Add friends” feature within the Friends
list or at least link to it. Right now it’s
hidden under the user’s profile.
foursquare profile screen
Not long ago, Yelp introduced check-ins.
The feature is buried on the detail view
but it could make an impact given that
Yelp already has a large community and
Another potential problem is check-in
fatigue--Gowalla, foursquare, Yelp &
who else? Recently, a product called
Check.in has attempted to address this
issue, but it’s still unclear if users want a
separate app when they already have
Twitter, FB & more. Yelp detail view
Thanks for viewing!
• That’s all for now!
• There are many other notable design details but I’d like to
keep these reviews relatively short.
• Suggestions for future reviews are welcome. Please send
email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Designing the iPhone User
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