3 Ideas for Improving Yelp

By Rebecca J. Rosen

With more than 20 million reviews on Yelp, it can sometimes be hard to find opinions you trust. A few ideas for making the site better.

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Going out tonight? Looking for a new place to eat in your neighborhood? If you're like me and 53 million other people every month, you'll spend a few minutes poking around Yelp for an idea. And for good reason -- with more than 20 million reviews on the site and a nearly complete directory of restaurants and shops in most American cities, Yelp has a ton of information and opinions. But because of the quantity, it can sometimes be hard to find reviews you trust.

Here are three features Yelp could add to make the site even more useful:

1. For each reviewer, show the distribution of their rankings next to their review. Is this person generally a whiner? It's hard to know a person's MO by just looking at a single review. Currently, you can click on a person's profile and see their ranking distribution there, but that's a click too far if you're trying to gauge the validity of 20 different reviews for one place. Put the chart right in the review.

2. Create groups. In groups, people who are cheap-eats aficionados or clothing-boutique junkies could chat about their favorite places. For members of a group, their group-mates reviews would get priority placement on a page. Right now, you can follow specific Yelpers that you like, but not a topic. Such a feature could be particularly useful if you're visiting a new place and aren't familiar with the different Yelpers there. Looking for authentic Chinese food? Find that group and you're golden.

3. Make more narrow rankings possible. For restaurant reviews, have a required "overall" ranking, but also provide the option of ranking the restaurant on three other factors: ambiance, service, and food. For me, I would take good food with bad service any day, and it'd be nice to be able to sort for only the food reviews.

So Yelpers out there, what do you think Yelp could do better? What would you like to see on the site?

Image: Yelp.com.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/3-ideas-for-improving-yelp/244445/