Users who went to Zomato's home page last week would've been faced with an unfamiliar sight - a login screen (pictured above). The popular restaurant search website underwent a major redesign, and brought in a slew of new features built around social sharing, to increase what Deepinder Goyal, the co-founder and CEO of Zomato describes as "passive engagement," or time spent on the site when a user isn't looking for a menu immediately.
Faced with immediate outcry, the company quickly responded and has reduced the emphasis on requiring users to sign in, completing the change in less than a week.
While Zomato did not introduce the login feature last week (in fact, it's been around for quite a while), for many users, it was simply easier to visit the site, look up the information you wanted, and leave again. By making the login nearly mandatory (there was a set of links under the login screen if you scrolled down, letting you explore the site without signing in; you could also jump to a listing directly via search engines), Zomato added a huge layer of friction, and what might have set off even more red flags is the highlighting of Facebook as a means of connecting to Zomato.
The site still lets you sign it with an email id, as before, and you can also sign on with Google+, but the redesign looked set to funnel people through Facebook. In contrast, the changes introduced this Monday put the search bar in focus, and you now have to scroll down to see the login option.
Goyal says that the move was designed to help personalise search results and improve the effectiveness of Zomato for users, but admits that requiring the login for Web was an "oversight". He says, "The mistake we made was that we did not look at behaviour on mobile and on the web differently. On the mobile, you sign in once and that's the end of that, but on the Web, that's not always the case, and people want a frictionless experience."
"When we launched last week, there was plenty of resistance for the Web, and massive drop rates" he admits, which is a clear sign that for a lot of people, mandatory sign-ins simply do not work, as it's deemed easier to just check a different source for information.