Faced with a host of online competition, restaurant reviews Bible Zagat relaunched its website today with a host of features to make it more accessible to those without a premium subscription. The upgrades include revamped member profiles complete with badges, new entry points to reviews through updated editors’ blogs and lists and an overhauled search function that allows users to search by neighborhood or “landmark.”
The updated search and expanded profiles are founder Nina Zagat’s favorite features, she told The Observer, adding that she sees as in keeping with the publication’s early days, when she and her husband Tim would survey their friends for restaurant recommendations.
“The whole concept of the survey was shared experiences of lots and lots of people being more reliable than what existed at the time, which were individual critics,” Ms. Zagat said. “So the nature of Zagat at its core is a very social experience, with the community of people contributing being the whole basis of everything that we’ve done.”
The community moves to the center stage in the redesign, and when users scroll over the “pithy, signature” quotes that “put the book on the map,” the authors of the critique are revealed. The user badges are fairly creative—one, “First on the Scene,” conjures both reporting and first-aid imagery—and would seem to encourage knowledgeable reviewers over Yelp squaking.
Ms. Zagat said the redesign is the result of a year’s worth of work is still “in previews.” She added that users can expect new features to be rolled out over the next four or five months.
(Disclosure: This paper has, in the past, had a promotional relationship with Zagat.)