How to Engage Your Users: Location-Aware Experiences

Whenever I talked about location-aware technology to clients, Olive Garden was always my go-to website to demo how this feature works. Today, I was disappointed to find that this feature no longer has a prominent call-out on its home page, and is now buried on the “Find a Restaurant” page.

Boo.

Before I go too much further, let’s get a definition on the table. In a word, location-aware technology is not IP address tracking. It’s much more sophisticated and accurate than that. According to TechTarget, location-aware technology is “… determined by one of three methods: by GPS satellite tracking, by cellular tower triangulation, or by the device’s media access control address on a Wi-Fi network.”

It’s immediately obvious why location-aware technology is fundamental to most mobile browsing experiences, but I also like to encourage clients to think about it for their desktop sites, too.

As you can see below, Foodspotting automatically figured out which Minneapolis suburb I live in, and showed me photos of food from nearby restaurants. This is a smart application of the technology. I often conduct my restaurant research on my laptop before I leave the house – not while I’m already driving.

foodspotting website

If you’re a multi-location retailer, restaurant or an international company, I think location-aware technology is a must-have for your website. Instead of asking users to select a country or ZIP code first, connect them to the right location off the bat and deliver targeted content and promotions.

Other creative uses:

  • Showcasing where your product or service is in use (e.g., customers snap photos of their purchase and upload them to your website, Redbox locations).
  • Connecting members of your community (e.g., cancer survivors, tax accountants)
  • Promoting your city or special interest (e.g., local events, coffeeshops)

What’s your favorite location-aware website?

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Author: Kristine Remer

June UX is led by Kristine Remer, a CX / UX research and strategy consultant in Minneapolis. She helps companies drive significant business outcomes by finding and solving customer problems. When she's not creating customer journey maps and conducting diary studies, Kristine is either kayaking or watching her kids play soccer.