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.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Even MORE mobile-friendly-ness updates!

A couple of months ago, in the last blog post, I mentioned about there being changes and modifications to The Menu Pile website, making it more mobile-friendly.

MobileFriendlyMenuPile

This time, there’s even more of that going on again!  We can see from our Google Analytics stats that you folks are more inclined to use The Menu Pile website on your mobiles and tablets, as opposed to desktops, so we’re trying our best to get the experience as near to ‘good’ as we can.

We’re not fully there yet, but we wanted you to know we’re working on it.

Some of the tweaks that we’ve made may be subtle and uninteresting to most, but some areas have been completely re-written, in order to either speed the loading times of the particular web-page, or because we’re trying to prepare the website for the future (secret) elements yet to be made public.

  • Favourites


    FavouriteOne such area that we’ve spent lots of time on, is the ‘Favourites’ button.  This was something that needed to be re-developed, as the ability to add a restaurant to your Favourites list was tucked away, under a drop-down menu and it wasn’t getting the air-time it probably deserved.  Now, when you click the ‘Favourite’ button, that particular website is immediately added (or removed!) from your list. And these can now be checked very easily from the menu item on the top right corner, when logged in.
  • Food Type Filters


    foodfiltersThis is something that we’ve wrestled with a fair bit in the past.  We wanted to make this super-easy for everyone to use, but we wanted to do that without impacting the performance of the website, and now, we think we’ve done it.  The food filters work by limiting the search results down to the ‘genre’ of food that you’re interested in, such as Chinese, or Indian, or Pizza, etc.  Previously, these used to just hide those not in the category you’d selected, but now there’s a bit more information along with them, in that the number of places in that category is now shown, and is reflected in the title once clicked.

There are lots more areas that have been re-worked but those above are ones that we thought you’d be more interested in. But sufficed to say, we’re constantly re-analysing the website and are always looking to improve the look and feel of the website, particularly on mobile-based devices as mentioned above.

The New Stuuuuuuuffffffff!

In addition to re-working existing areas of the website, we’ve got the start of some interesting areas of the website to mention in this latest release, namely…

  • My Menu Pile


    mymenupileThe ‘My Menu Pile’ screen.  For those of you that are members/subscribers to the website, you’ll now be presented with a brand new Home Page when you’re logged in.  The My Menu Pile screen is focused on YOU.  Your takeaways in your area, and this is something we want to work more on, so expect changes and upgrades in this space.
  • Restaurant-specific pages

    restaurantpagesAlso, in the ‘new’ category, are the restaurant-specific pages.  These are interesting as you’re NOW ABLE to see all feedback left for a restaurant by other users.  This is something that we had previously tried to keep private to the restaurant owners only, but after much demand from our users (yes, you guys!) we’ve decided to push this to the front of the queue and get the feedback out in the public. So, now you can see how our feedback rating stars are totted-up.  More ‘stuff’ to follow in these pages soon.
  • Restaurant sign-ups


    thisisyourbusinessIf you own or manage a restaurant, then you’ll want to sign-up on The Menu Pile, if you haven’t done so already!  Lots of places across the UK have done so already, and these are going to get the goodies first! 

    We’ve tweaked it, and have made the sign-up process MUCH easier than before, and brought the links to get starts right up to the forefront. 

    Sign up now and start managing your profile online. 

    Start by simply searching for your restaurant! It’s that easy!


There are more changes, updates, tweaks and touches that are coming in the pipeline, and this blog post is long enough already, but we’ll be releasing new features and functionality on the website as we go! Exciting times!

If there’s something that we’re doing that you like (or don’t like!), please feel free to get in touch and let us know, as we’d love to hear from you.  We always appreciate feedback as it helps us to better understand how you’re using the site, and if something makes it harder to find what you’re after, then let us know and we’ll see what can be done about it.

Until next time.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The more-mobile-friendly Menu Pile Website!

Ta-Da

We’ve been so busy working on the back-end of The Menu Pile website and database, that we completely missed the fact that the search results looked pretty pants on mobile devices such as phones and tablets, which is where the vast majority of you all use the site.

So, to fix this, we have slimmed it all down a little, and squared-up some of the display elements, such that everything not only fits but looks more like a ‘proper’ search results listing page.

tmp update

Registered users  of the website (aka Menu Pilers!) can also now filter search results in their area by those marked as being ‘Favourites’, making it easier to find your food in hurry!  If you’re not yet a member, sign-up nowit’s completely free now and forever.

AND, back by popular demand, is the food type filter.  On a desktop/laptop-sized screen, this appears on the left, but on a mobile device this appears at the top of the search results list.

Have a look and let us know what you think.  And if there’s anything else that doesn’t look or ‘feel’ right on the website, drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do to fix it.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Posters

The poster of the moment for The Menu Pile website, saying: "We are on The Menu Pile .co.uk"So, as a bit of fun and more importantly as a bit of a small marketing campaign, I took our logo and had it enlarged and professionally printed at A3, A4 and A5 size, so as to create posters for the restaurants in the area to display (or not!) that they can be found on The Menu Pile website.

So, for a few evenings, I took a little trip out to a few of them, as a testing pilot to see how they would ‘go down’ in the wild, so to speak.

Admittedly, some restaurants hadn’t yet heard of The Menu Pile website, which was my golden opportunity to explainto them as to what it is, and why they’re set to benefit directly from it.

Stotts Fish Restaurant in March, Cambridgeshire, proudly displaying The Menu Pile logo!Doddington Fish Bar in Doddington, Cambridgeshire, displaying The Menu Pile logo.The Saffron Cuisine in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, with their poster for The Menu Pile (and higher than Just Eat's logo too!)

Others very nearly jumped across the counter (I kid you not!) as to get their poster, as they had heard their customers mention the site, and that they had used our version of the restaurant menus to order the food. Remember, that their menus are being displayed and promoted on The Menu Pile website for free – they’re not paying any monthly standing fee or anything like that – all gratis.

Some reluctantly took a poster or two, wondering whether the boss would allow them to put them up on the wall or front window, but amazingly, many are on display!

A selection of some of the restaurant owners, posing with their new spangly poster for The Menu Pile website.I also managed to get a few snaps of the guys holding up the poster – no pressure, no payments or anything like that, as they seemed to appreciate the effort that we were going to, in order to help push their business.  Some ended up on our Facebook Page, but more to show everyone else that people are really starting to get behind us in terms of being an online place to go for food menus. Fantastic.

If you see people that you recognise in the photos that we’ve been sharing, make sure you tell them next time you collect your takeaway order! I’m sure they’ll love you for it!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

A New Year!

Happy New Year

It doesn’t seem like a long time that The Menu Pile first hit the internet, but this is our second New Year with the site. Time is flying, so we must be enjoying ourselves.

We’ve got some more features planned for the website, as we’re constantly working in the background of the website and database, if not pounding the flatbed scanners with new menus from across the country. Some of the features we’ll be able to add without hesitation, but others will need a little structural work in the database before they’re able to be switched on. 

The biggest, and possibly the most important, feature that I, personally, have been working on/off for a little while now, is the ability to email-out to the registered Menu Pilers, to notify them of new menus in their area.  This isn’t necessarily a big deal, as most websites do this on a regular basis, but with such a small team, this is just a ‘time’ thing. The benefit of this could be huge, as I’m frequently getting asked when newer versions of a menu for a given place will be available online.  I’ve been doing my best with Facebook and emails so far, by responding to people’s questions, but this needs to be something that is automated. Of the people we’ve asked about new menu notifications, it appears that the significant majority think it’s a good thing, as they’re always interested in their local town or village.

We’re working on new additional graphs, too, for takeaway/restaurant staff, as we’re keen to show them some of the stats that we’re generating each day, week and month that we’re running. At present, we’re able to show them the number of menu views per month for the last year, their highest, lowest, average, etc etc etc.  In addition, we’re able to show them, as a whole, some other interesting stats on their venue, but we need to expand on this further, possibly even providing day-by-day stats.  All of this is available, for free, to registered restaurants. PLUG: If you work at a takeaway/restaurant, and you haven’t yet registered, click here now, and be taken to the My Restaurants page on The Menu Pile website.  Again, all free.

Hopefully, 2016 will be a good year for not just The Menu Pile website, but for the takeaway industry itself, as we’re here to help promote new and existing food outlets in your area, that you may not even be aware existed. There’s some fantastic eating places out there, and we’re trying to do out best to help.