Restaurant Academy

Team Size: 3 members    Project Length: 10 weeks   Project Role: UX/UI Design Lead, primary visual designer
Restaurant Academy is a tutorial website for users wishing to effectively transition their businesses online during the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform has instructional videos, chat bots that will guide users in the right direction, and free courses that will allow you to upload information about your business. This project was for HCDE 318: Intro to User-Centered Design at the University of Washington.
As a UX Design Lead and primary visual designer, I planned, iterated, and developed an interactive prototype for our tutorial website. I crafted our main educational feature and oversaw and managed the design of additional features. Each member conducted user research, created storyboards, and crafted user personas for user research. I developed our color palette, typography, and main structure of navigation.
Erica Smith

Problem Space

With the onset of COVID-19 and its ensuing quarantine, lockdowns have placed bans on dining at restaurants. These restaurants are forced to transition their business online to accommodate a “take-out and delivery” only environment. Many of these orders are placed online through delivery/catering apps to further follow social distancing measures. 

Local and small restaurants have struggled under the weight of the competitive virtual marketplace. Seattle is recognized as one of the hardest hit cities where restaurant business is down as much as 60 percent (Severson & Moskin, 2020). Even under financial pressures, restaurants are finding ways to give back to their community and supporters through online deals, hygienic necessities and meal kits (Fantozzi, 2020). We have recognized a technological need to support the transition of these restaurants online.

User Research

As we began our research, we selected several different managers/owners in the Seattle area to question them about their experiences online and in the delivery space.

Interview Snippets:

Visualizing our User

Based on the interviews we conducted to local restaurant owners, we each crafted user personas and user journey maps to recreate a typical day in the restaurant space and pinpointed the interactions and pain points users were likely to encounter. We made sure to hint at each interview snippet in our journey maps so that it would portray realistic scenarios. This would eventually help us identify the main features necessary for our solution and determine elements critical to our mission of helping small and local business owners.

The following user persona and user journey map that I created is for a restaurant manager that handles multiple devices for each delivery application.


From the data we gathered, we recognized three main points about the current sphere of transitioning online for small business owners who may not have as much help as big corporations offer their chains:
-The process to transition online is a difficult and unknown space for owners.
-Technical literacy is necessary to create or enhance an online presence.
-Restaurants rely on multiple interfaces to receive orders from delivery services.

Our users may have no expertise in online marketing and may be struggling to successfully advertise or transition their business to accommodate an increasingly virtual marketplace.

Our research proved it was crucial that we made a platform simple yet explanative.

Design Process

For the design of our platform, we approached every possible functionality we could think of to make sure it was following the needs of our users.

We utilized storyboards as a way to generate ideas and explore possibilities for design features.

Because we wanted the navigation to be quick and simple, we outlined the main navigational features of our website. We created an information architecture map so that we could refer back to our thinking in the implementation of our design.

By creating a functional model of our website, we could pinpoint what interactions needed improvement.

Final Product

try scrolling through this macbook!


Our design process was a bit scrambled, if not hectic, being that this was our first quarter attending classes remotely. However, we each took accountability for our roles and were able to communicate and exchange information about our findings during routine check-ins. Additionally, my part-time job as a waitress heavily came into play because I could interview my boss and see firsthand the struggles that businesses must overcome during a government mandated quarantine. My teammates were a perfect match because they could balance my restaurant industry perspective with their unbiased viewpoints.

Though our designs are finalized (for now), moving forward, I would love to create an easy-to-follow style guide for my teammates to follow in other pages of our website. This would create a more seamless flow across the platform and a steadier implementation of UI principles.