Friday, 27 July 2018

IMPORTANT NEWS

byebye.fw

It's with regret that I'm closing down The Menu Pile website.

Whilst it's been a real blast in making and growing the website to handle the large volume of users, I need to make a sensible grown-up decision to power-down the servers and turn off the lights.

At our peak over the past 3 or 4 years, the site has had over 11,000 users per month, which is absolutely amazing, considering that the vast majority of the traffic is focused into the evening hours when you'd normally order a takeaway.

The reality of the situation is that even though The Menu Pile is a great idea as evident by the large number of comments and messages I've received, the website wasn't created to be a business. It was created accidentally and turned into a 4 year hobby, for which I've loved, and you've all appreciated.

I've tried, but the server hosting folks won't accept love and appreciation to settle web-server costs, and I've run out of shirt buttons to pay for it. Highly scalable cloud-based websites, with large cloud-based databases and everything else that makes it work... doesn't come cheap.

So - as of the 31st July 2018, The Menu Pile website will be offline. Gone out for it's own takeaway. Eating some pizza in HTML heaven. As I said, it's been a blast.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

More Mobile-Friendly Changes!

iphonexI recently posted on LinkedIn about The Menu Pile as I was trying to spread the word to get more people interested, and someone happened to mention that it might be a good idea to put the distances of the restaurants away from the search post code.

Good idea, right?

It is – and it’s something that has been there for a LONG time… except when I made the changes previously to the mobile/tablet version of the website, I appear to have hidden it and hadn’t actually noticed that I had done so!

Anyway, long story short, the distances are not only back, but they now reflect the actual distances (by road), whereas previously, they were ‘as the crow flies’, which of course worked in Desktop mode and was correct, but I wanted to improve them for mobile users.

Turns out, these mobile devices are already the ‘norm’ in terms of browsing the internet, which might not come as a shock or surprise, but it’s an interesting concept for people like me, who have always pretty much focused on Desktop/Laptop browsers, and mobile was always an afterthought, simply because the mobile devices from even say 5 years ago, weren’t what they are now, and struggled to display web pages.  If they could, mobile coverage in the UK was ok, but still patchy and fragmented.  Nowadays, it’s all about the mobile, and a surprise when we see people using the website on a traditional computer.

I’ve made lots of other mobile-based changes to the website overall, too, as niggly little areas would always irk me, and must therefore irk others.  Lots fixed, but too much to mention without boring you massively!!

My point about this blog post was, though, that it took someone to comment to make me actually see some of the little problems – I think, irrespective of what you’re making, you get a little tunnel-vision'ed, and sometimes miss the details.  A simple comment has made all of the difference, and hopefully makes it better for everyone. So, just let me know if there’s something that doesn’t look brilliant, that could be better!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Menu Pile Android App!

Completely free, and with NO ADS, the brand-spankingly-new app for The Menu Pile is now available on the Google Play Store!

It’s taken us a little while to get up there, but it’s the very first version! 

We have lots more features and functionality that we’re wanting to pile onto it, but for now, this first version is basic but operational.

Find me!

It’s ok when you’re at home wanting to find out what takeaways are near you, but when you’re away, or at a friend’s house, not knowing the post code can be a minor problem. Well, not any more, as the ‘Find Me!’ button uses your GPS in your phone to work out where you are, and then to find the nearest UK-based post code! Simples.

Directions

Need to get over to your takeaway restaurant to collect your food? Well, the ‘Directions’ button hooks into the Google Directions on your phone to show you where it is and how to get there, turn-by-turn! Or pavement-by-pavement, if you want to walk!

Calling the takeaway

No more faffing around dialling the number once you’ve got your list of dishes to order! Simply click the ‘Call’ button, and the app helps you to make a phone call right away.

This app is our very first version, and we’ll be adding more and more features to it over time. If there’s something that’s not quite right, or maybe you have a suggestion, why not drop us an email and tell us?

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

PILE POINTS!!

Where are you on our new Top 20 scoreboard of Top Pilers?

We’ve added some funky new pieces to The Menu Pile website recently, namely that of encouraging you to collect Pile Points for helping us out on the site.

The more you interact, the more Pile Points you receive. 

If you:

  • Send us a Menu – we’ll give you (at least) 50 points for each
  • Leave Feedback – we’ll give you 10 points
  • Recommend a friend – we’ll give you 50 points for each

- Earn as many Pile Points as you like!  -

Check out the Scoreboard page to see if you’re in the Top 20 or go to the Pile Points page to see what they’re all about.

Some features need you to be logged in – if you need to create an account, go to the Sign Up page now to get started.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Online Ordering at The Menu Pile: EXPLAINED!

TAKEAWAY RESTAURANTS: DO YOU WANT A YEAR OF FREE ONLINE ORDERING? READ ON!

OnlineOrderingOur ‘big news’ post on our Facebook Page a week or so ago, was that we’re getting into doing online food ordering via The Menu Pile website, and whilst this might sound like an obvious thing to have said, this wasn’t actually part of the original plan for the site itself.

Back in the day, the idea was to simply have a couple of menus on a web server somewhere that my family and I could access the food menu for our favourite takeaways, purely for laziness.  But recently, we’ve been exploring the possibility of helping takeaway restaurants to process food orders online, but without charging a small fortune.

As we’re getting many thousands of people each month visit The Menu Pile website in order to find their favourite/local takeaway, whether it’s to:

  • get the phone number
  • find out the hygiene rating
  • or view an online menu

…it made logical sense to us to move onto the next (big) step; ordering.

We’ve thought long and hard about this; the team at The Menu Pile are all professional software developers (in the finance sector) as our day jobs, and so the process of building a top-notch web-based food ordering database and website application is almost second nature.  The application to the food industry, is where we feel we’ve learnt a lot, and want to put this into practise.

Our aim was to create a quick and easy-to-use service that will allow people to select, order and pay for food via the website. And we feel we’ve done that, although you’ll have to take our word for it, as we don’t (yet) have a takeaway restaurant to fully complete the process, but we’re working on it: READ ON!!

Other online food ordering sites charge a lot of money for their services, which is something we wanted to steer away from. But then there are other websites that charge a simple, flat monthly fee, but are not affected by the amount of custom a takeaway restaurant will have.  We wanted to be different. And fair.

We wanted to help a takeaway restaurant to take more orders through the online website and have the order appear without needing to answer a (single) telephone and manually jot down the order.  We wanted to be able to help them take money online, when they currently may not even accept credit/debit cards over the counter.

Our aim was not to fleece a small number of restaurants and profit from it; our aim is still to earn a small amount of money from each place that choose to work with us, and work on the scale of the UK’s takeaway industry to help make The Menu Pile bloom into being the absolute best it can be.  If everyone is able to profit and profit fairly for the amount of work put in, then that sounds pretty good to us.

So, to be clear, here’s what our online food ordering service can currently do:

  • Allow people to easily find the dish that they like.
  • Suggest dishes that others have liked.
  • Compile a food order.
  • Take credit/debit card payments.
  • Send all details onto the restaurant to confirm.
  • Update all parties as to the progress of the order.
  • Stay online when being bombarded by thousands of incoming requests per second (which is actually quite important!!)

This is all relatively simple stuff, but the interesting part is getting people to use it.  Where we’d like to go, is to help you choose your meal, and then suggest places that are local to you that can provide those meals, possibly based on price, hygiene ratings, or recommendations from your friends.  We’ve got so many ideas on how we’re going to make The Menu Pile website fantastic, we’re holding ourselves back until we’re able to convince a takeaway restaurant to come on board with us.

And that’s where we currently are. We need a takeaway restaurant to be the first. 

We need a takeaway restaurant to be the first in the country to offer their customers a new method to order food, namely via The Menu Pile website.  Yes, there’ll be bumps in the road, and we’re ready to make any necessary changes to make it as brilliant for everyone, so with that in mind, here’s what we’re offering to that first restaurant for their bravery in being the very first:

A YEAR of FREE online ordering!

Yes, a year. 12 whole months.  No commission, no monthly charges, nothing.

You help us and we’ll reward you. All food orders will be processed as normally, except instead of us charging you our planned commission rate (of just 6%), we’ll charge you exactly 0%.

But to explain that 6% figure a little more, (and why the 0% rate is so good):

  • Card charges
    Credit/debit card charges by banks can be as much as 4% in themselves.  Our planned commission rate will include this charge.  There’s no extra to pay for the service.
  • Centralised payments
    If The Menu Pile website is able to accept and process orders for many takeaways across the UK, we can arrange a lower banking fee with the banks, and then pass this saving onto our restaurants, meaning that our 6% rate could quite easily drop.
  • Maintenance of the website itself
    Although we’ve been running since December 2014 without Adverts, and without actually making a single penny from the website, this isn’t feasible going forward, and it’s not sensible to pretend that it is. The Menu Pile website has to start earning money, to justify it’s own existence as the main place to find takeaway restaurant details online.

QUESTION: Do you work at a takeaway restaurant
that would like to take us up on this amazing offer? 

IF SO, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!

It’s definitely not a competition, but we’re certainly not going to offer a year of 0% commission to many places, so call (01223 969456) or email (brett@themenupile.co.uk) NOW!

We would love to kick-start the online ordering at The Menu Pile. Please help us.  :-)

Thanks.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Upcoming changes

For the whole time that The Menu Pile website has been online, we’ve always had lots of people visiting the website, as it appears that viewing menus online is a good/popular thing, and we love that. (We really do!)

We have said since day one, that the website should “remain free to use by the public”, and that’s something we intend on sticking to. But there’s one aspect of ‘free’ that we’ve always struggled with, namely whether you’re using the website being logged in or not.

website

One of the more significant upcoming changes that we’ve got coming soon for the website, is to make it such that you’d need to be logged in, in order to view the menus.   Of course, it’s still free to use, and you can log into the website using logins from

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Microsoft
  • Google

as well as creating a username and password with The Menu Pile site itself, so we’ve covered as many bases as we can for you.

But this idea hasn’t been an easy one to get to, here at Pile Headquarters, as we WANT people to use the website, and we’re trying hard to make it easy for everyone to use the website and not just the young and the hip.

So here’s what we’ve come up with:

New visitors to the website will be able to use the website and view menus online, just as they currently do. But when a new visitor starts using the website enough, we’re going to tip-over to simply asking for a log in, before viewing a menu.  Once logged in, you can view as many menus as you like.

Again, we’ve been working hard to make the logged in section a little special, and try to tailor parts of the website for your ease and convenience; this has manifested itself in the ‘My Pile’ section of the website, where you’re able to shortcut your favourites, or see your level of interest and contribution to our website, and the wider Menu Pile community.

By asking for a log in for the website, we’re able to see how The Menu Pile website is actually being used, and it will then allow us to make improvements such that the experience of finding a menu is as slick and easy to use as possible, whilst still remaining free at the point of use.

OBVIOUSLY we’ve got other things in the pipeline that you’re going to love, of which I’m not able to divulge this information at present, but logging in users is a much needed first step.

We hope this is ok with you all. Yes, that’s a semi-rhetorical question, as we need this to happen for future stuff, but on the same stroke, we’re still interested in your thoughts, input and opinions.  Drop us a line if this bothers you either way.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Broke it. Fixed it.

Grey Duct Tape We’re very sorry, we didn’t mean to break it.

But now we’ve FIXED IT!

What are we talking about? Well, a range of people emailed in to say that they were having difficulty with The Menu Pile website, and they were getting error messages where they should have been seeing lovely-ness.

Long story short, we’ve found quite a few ‘bugs’ in the website and we’ve nailed all that we’ve found. Namely:

Logging in
A quirk of the log-in process, coupled with the new spangly My Pile screen meant that some weren’t able to log in properly, and a few people admitted to resorting to paper-based menus for their takeaway.  We’re pleased to say that this is now fixed – please try again!

Searching by County and town/village name
This was completely broken when the search results listings page was re-written, only we missed that it was broken. (Note to self: we need more automated UI tests…!)  This meant that not only were people not able to find their nearest restaurants by area, but it also had a negative impact on people coming through Google, as they had stopped indexing the broken pages after a number of attempts.  Again, this is all fixed, so please try again at your convenience.

We’re hoping that solves most of the problems that people have been having with the website, but we’re always at the other end of an email, in case you need us. 

If you’re interested, these bugs were fixed in version 2.2.17.8 of the website, which is displayed in the bottom of the footer.  Each time we make any changes, this number will increase, as it helps us keep track of feature progress, bug fixes, and so on.