Yelp Decision-making Study

ux research



Yelp is a local-search service powered by crowd-sourced reviews.


It’s unclear what aspects of a business’ Yelp page influences consumer decisions most.


How might we use eye-tracking to determine how users gauge the credibility of restaurants through Yelp?



Takahiro Shimokobe
Marianne Miranda
Paula Zitnick


My major contributions were in the design of the main user study experiment, administration of the experiment, and analysis of research data.


SMI RED250 eye tracking hardware & accompanying software


January 2019 to April 2019

Pilot Study

To inform the design of our main study, we ran an online survey to see what users self-report to be most influential on a business’ Yelp page.


We hypothesize that ratings will have a significantly higher value to participants when making decisions to choose businesses.
Preliminary research to see which features to include in the main study.


133 respondents

Design considerations


Businesses chosen for comparison were far from testing location to decrease possible bias.

Limited variables

For each feature tested the influence of, we ensured that as many other features remained similar.



We hypothesize that users will select businesses that have a higher number of reviews, higher average ratings, and the availability of a full menu.

Experiment design

The main study aims to verify the results of the pilot study and test our hypothesis via eye tracking analysis and questionnaire.

Experiment sessions

Six participants were recruited from the hallway or were friends.
Heatmap generated from eye-tracking results.

Results & analysis


Test case 1: number of reviews
85.7% of users chose our predicted choice

Analysis methodology

We noticed that users typically looked at every asset. This made our original intention, to note which items were sought visually, unhelpful.
Measuring the significance of dwell time in relation to the null hypothesis of the test case.


Pilot Study

Average ratings
Number of reviews
Available full menu

Main Study

Photos were the most important feature.



Lack of time
Low number of participants
Differing complexity of features of Yelp

future work

Incorporate qualitative methods of assessment during eye-tracking experiments to better measure users' actual thought processes while making decisions in the Yelp interface.

Personal reflections

This was the most comprehensive UX research project I've worked on, and seeing the start-to-finish workflow was invaluable.

Full project

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Full study

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