5 UX Lessons From An Expensive Restaurant

Last week, I did something I don’t usually do. I went to a really expensive restaurant, KEIKO à Nob Hill. So what does an expensive restaurant have to do with web development? A lot actually.

As web developers, it is our job to provide the best possible user experience (UX). And one way to understand what makes a good user experience is to observe it in the real world. Keiko had the most incredible user experience – it was well worth the money! Here is how they did it:

Lack Of Choices

At Keiko, there is only one option for dinner. A seven-course menu. That is what you’ll be eating. They’ll modify this if you are allergic to something, but that’s pretty much it.

The only choices you need to make is whether you’d like an additional course add on – only one choice for an extra price – or add in a wine pairing with your meal.

This lack of choices made me feel really relaxed. I left the work of figuring out what I’d be eating to the chef, fully entrusting her to do her job of making tasty food.

UX Lesson: You’re the expert on what your customers want. Don’t give them too many choices, especially with the core product. Just a choice of a few add-ons is enough.

Delivering An Incredible Product

Every single bite at Keiko was filled with complex and exciting flavors and was absolutely delicious. The food was just incredible. I  did not leave a single bite on my plate. At one point, as I was scraping every last crumb off my plate, the waiter came over and joked that I’m about to eat the porcelain. I came for delicious food, and I got it.

UX Lesson: Know what your users want and deliver it. They need to walk away happy that they go their money’s worth.

Beyond Expectations

As if just serving delicious food wasn’t enough, at Keiko, the layout of each dish was pretty much a modern art painting. Just take a look at this cheese course:

Each dish was an incredible surprise – it looked good and it tasted even better.

UX Lesson: Go above and beyond in making sure everything not only works, but also looks and feels good. Spend just almost as much time on the presentation as your product!

Details, Details, Details!

No detail was left out at Keiko. In addition to serving delicious and beautiful food, I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the rest room. The room was beautifully decorated, with fresh towels and pretty flowers.

Even cotton sticks and toothpicks were provided!

No detail was left out, and it made me feel loved and taken care of as a user.

UX Lesson: Make sure parts of your website that are not visited as often look and work as well as the main pages!

Customer Service

I drink lots of water, so I was pleasantly surprised that every time my glass was just over half empty, someone came over and filled it up. In other restaurants, I usually have to waive down the waiter to get some extra water or anything else I need.

UX Lesson: Anticipate your customer’s needs and provide whatever they might need well in advance of when they actually need it if possible. This is what makes great customer service.

Passion

Every time a meal was delivered to our table, the waiter described in detail what was on it. Then the wine guy came over (I know there is a fancy name for him, just don’t remember it) and told us a story about where each wine came from and why it works well with the food we’re about to eat. The passion of both the waiter and especially the wine guy were shining through and made me feel extra excited for the food I was about to eat. The wine guy clearly loved his job, and it felt good to be around him.

UX Lesson: Show off your passion to your customers. If you’re not working alone, make sure to hire only people who are just as passionate about their job as you are.

Have you experienced an incredible service or product lately? What made it so special?

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  • Great blog post Natasha. I agree about lack of choices, simpler is better.

    • Thanks! Simplicity and lack of choices is my favorite one of these as well!

  • Great post. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sommelier is the “wine guy”. And, this article reminded me that we should also not try to be expert at too much. Btw, was there any music playing? Reservations required? How about some details on the logistics?

  • antoine

    I just wanted to say that your blog is great, it’s cool to see someone that had to go through the same Learning path (Learning cs outside of college). Thank you

  • Ann

    I just started to read The Design of Everyday Things. I’m falling in love with UX, thanks for my journey in Content Strategy. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Ann,
      UX is awesome! I’ll make sure to check out The Design of Everyday Things. Sounds like a great read.

  • Khara

    Great post, really enjoyed it 🙂