Your feedback helps improve AllergyEats… again
For months prior to the launch of AllergyEats in February, 2009, I sought out and incorporated the opinions of many people associated with food allergies to determine what the site should include and look like. However, I knew that whatever initial plan and layout I finally decided upon would still not be perfect and that AllergyEats’ best recommendations would come from its users. I welcomed all ideas and encouraged criticism, as I still do today. After all, the whole point of AllergyEats is to be a site for the community, by the community – so how foolish would it be not to listen to the community and be willing to change? Today, I can say that AllergyEats is much improved versus February, 2009 thanks to your input… and it will be even better in another 2 years as well.
One concern that had been shared with me a few times since inception was that no matter which allergies an individual clicked in the search box when running a “Find Restaurant” search, the resulting restaurant list still looked the same. Many users didn’t understand why, and some that did still didn’t like it. (The answer, by the way, is that we still think the OVERALL allergy-friendliness rating is a better gauge of whether a restaurant “gets” food allergies or not – see our FAQs for more details.) So why have users check off their allergies at all? The original idea was that when an individual restaurant received a very high number of ratings, AllergyEats would display “sub-ratings” for each individual allergy.
Yet after much listening, thinking, and discussing, I decided that enough members of the AllergyEats community wanted these sub-ratings now and that it made sense for me to accommodate those wishes. Therefore, while search results are still listed in order of the restaurants’ overall allergy-friendliness, which I still believe is the most important gauge, you will now see allergy-specific sub-ratings in the resulting restaurant lists as well. These sub-ratings represent the composite reviews of all raters with one or more of the food allergies you clicked in the search box on the home page. See below for an example of what the sub-ratings look like and how they work.
In this example, I assumed the user had ALL of the ten allergies/intolerances listed at the top of the home page (peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg, wheat, gluten, shellfish, fish, soy, and sesame) and I thus clicked all 10 boxes. I then ran a basic search of Boston, MA. The following is part of the results screen.
What is not noticeable from this small excerpt is that the full table of restaurant results is still listed in order of overall allergy-friendliness ratings (represented by the number in the circle). However, you can now see that allergy-specific ratings were added to each of the restaurants in this results list. Since I clicked all 10 allergies when I ran the search, this grid is showing me the allergy-specific ratings for any of those 10 allergies that were represented by at least one rater of that restaurant. If I had clicked only two or three allergies in the search box, the list of allergy-specific ratings displayed here would be limited to just those two or three. Notice too that, in this example, Zing Pizza only has allergy-specific ratings for 5 of the 10 allergies. This means that Zing Pizza has not yet been rated by anyone with one of the other 5 allergies. (You can also see that the raters with shellfish and soy allergies were not quite as impressed as those with peanuts).
Further information about how the restaurants were reviewed by those with your specific allergies can still be seen in the Comments section on each restaurant’s Details & Comments page (to get there, one needs to simply click the bar below the restaurant’s name in the above visual). Again based on your requests, we added this feature early in 2011. Following is a little more about that.
As you can see in the Comments from Members box below (taken from the Bertucci’s Details & Comments page), each username has one or more associated two-letter codes. Rolling your mouse over these on the actual site will reveal what each of them represents, though they are relatively straightforward. In this example, the first rater (cmh79com) has a gluten intolerance. The 2nd (sazzy) has dairy, gluten, and soy allergies/intolerances. The third (emmasmom) has a tree nut allergy.
Thus, through the use of the allergy-specific ratings on the results page that we’re introducing to you today, plus the identification of the allergies of the raters in the comments section, I hope we’ve demonstarted our willingness (and desire) to listen and incorporate the information you want, in order to make AllergyEats a better site for our entire food allergy and intolerance community.
We will continue to keep an open mind and open ears, and I strongly encourage you to leave comments on what you would like to see on AllergyEats or what you don’t like. Just click “Contact Us” on the left sidebar of any page of the core site (www.allergyeats.com) and fill out the easy form. AllergyEats will always be a “work in progress” in the sense that we will continue adding new useful functions and features that we believe will better serve you.
So how did we do? Do you like this newest addition? Do you feel you will get more out of AllergyEats now than you did before? Please feel free to share some thoughts here by clicking on Comments or Reply below.
And as always, please remember to rate any restaurants you’ve recently dined at on the core AllergyEats site (www.allergyeats.com) or free smartphone app (for iPhone and Android). Each new rating that you add increases the value of AllergyEats for our entire food allergy and intolerance community. And it only takes a minute!