What the Yelp is going on? After 9 years, Yelp has decided to test a new design for their review pages. I only happened to notice because I manage a number of locations for a business on Yelp and am on their site several times per day. One day last week I noticed that my Yelp interface had changed and was really perplexed. While I liked most of the changes, I was really bothered that they changed the picture dimensions from rectangular to square which messed with several photos that had been uploaded to my account.
Since I am a paying customer of Yelp, I quickly emailed my Yelp Account Manager and expressed my dissatisfaction about not being told of the changes. My ire turned out to be premature as Yelp is just testing the new design for now and only 1% of users can actually see the changes, so I guess I am luck in that regard. In any case, I still wish they would have been proactive in notifying active users or managers of business accounts that something was up.
What is Yelp saying so far? Officially, Yelp is not saying anything about the new interface. Unofficially, here is some additional information sent to me by my Yelp Account Manager.
- We are testing new ads and a more photo-centric look to profiles
- By January 2014, the updates will be live across 12% of our user pages, before officially launching at some point in Q1
- We are testing these so the features are changing each week. We are not officially discussing these today since the design may change between today and the roll out.
- The roll out date has not been finalized but we hope to make the unveil in Q1.
If you are curious about what may change, I have copied identical pages from Ruby’s Diner – and a Yelp page I managed 3 years ago. When I sign into my Yelp account and view any pages, I get the new Yelp user interface. If I use another browser and don’t sign in, I get the old or current Yelp user interface.
What are the key changes? The key changes in the Yelp interface can be summarized as:
- Bigger fonts for headings
- Pictures are bigger, and are front and center
- Review highlights have also gained in prominence
- Calls to action are better organized (“Write a Review, Add Photo, etc.”)
- Summary business facts have moved to right navigation bar
- Rating distribution has been hidden under Details (to right of review stars under business name)
- Added more white space under the reviewer’s name and to the left of the actual review
So, do you like the new changes? I like the idea that Yelp is finally addressing the issue of their ‘tired’ interface considering that all of their social media brethren have gone through multiple user interface iterations in the past several years. I like some of the features and I am not convinced about some of the others. Remember my earlier caveat – the final design may change between now and final roll out. So, what do you think?
Here is the latest version of the new Yelp interface:
Yelp New User Interface as of December 17, 2013 – Tentative
And for comparison, here is the current version of the Yelp Interface:
Yelp Current User Interface as of December 17, 2013