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Marissa Epstein: Designing WoM a New Food Discovery App for Providence RI

We’re excited to feature WoM a new app that helps you find the best bars and restaurants using a new social search model. The mobile app WoM is set to launch in Providence Rhode Island. We got a chance to sit down with Marissa Epstein the lead designer on the project and ask about her experience designing the project.

You can sign up for the waitlist on The new app gives you personalized recommendations from your local network of friends and experts. 




What part of the project are you most excited about?

This has been a very fun project, to say the least. I am working with a cool team that regularly cracks me up. I’m creating design work that I believe in, instead of compromising with clients. I can only hope that shows. I feel really good about our process, and have loved digging into the business canvas and challenging ourselves and our assumptions. Over sushi.

Also, my boyfriend and I are pretty big foodies that love to try new things in town and recommend them to others. We are excited to launch a project that scratches our own itch, and hopefully those of many PVD locals!


What was the user research process like?

This was a very satisfying but slow process. After we had taken our initial pass at the business model, audience definition, and app wireframes, the team documented every assumption we were making, then sought to validate every one. Some questions we answered with secondary research data, but the rest were converted into interview scripts and survey questions. We recruited participants, conducted our own research, then reviewed summaries together. Some hypotheses were validated, and to our surprise, some were directly contradicted. We rolled all of those findings back into our initial deliverables, refining our model, personas, and features. It is always nice to be able to stop an argument about how we think users might do something, and go find out from real people already.




What were some of the design challenges when designing this app?

Hardest thing seems to always be deciding what is most important. There is so much to do for a design team of one, from user research, market research, product strategy, wireframing, and styling, to lots of marketing collateral. It can be easy to get distracted and switch gears more than is effective, or temporarily lose sight of the most important goals.


What techniques and software tools do you use to keep yourself organized?

Too many tools! The WoM team has been using Github tickets to track the work we need to accomplish for each milestone, combined with the awesome kanban view that provides. We keep in touch with Slack, which also keeps track of our files and has some handy bots. And of course, the tried-and-true Scrum, which happens over a Google Hangout.




How has  WoM changed over time?

I think our biggest pivot was after doing our user research, when we learned how important food writers were to one of our main personas. Now we are offering curated results two ways: friends help you narrow in on which place to go with a list of their favorites, but experts help you make the final call, with data within the profile. We are very excited at the chance to actually appeal to the foodie that is too good for Yelp!


When you show people the screens and concept what do you find they are really excited about?

I’m proud to say that people have consistently reacted positively to the clean design. Otherwise, it’s different things from different people: some love the easter eggs in the video, others are digging the social/Twitter-esque model, another recently got excited about the ability to order an Uber right from the profile, to take you to a bar or restaurant.


long live beer words wall providence ri


Favorite Providence restaurant or bar design and why?

Long Live Beerworks! I can’t stop telling the owner how much I love his wife’s design work, from the branding on the bottles to the mural on the wall.
You can signup for early access to the app on their website or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. You can follow Marissa’s work on her Dribbble or website.





Written by CrazyLeaf Editorial

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