The idea came to me back in 2008 at that time Camille and I were always trying to figure out what to eat and where to go on our lunch. And typically we would end up at one of the local supermarkets where we would discover what was on the menu was not what we wanted. So I being annoyed and hungry thought it would be a great idea to have the day’s menu online so we could decide where and what we wanted to eat that day. And so WHL was born.
One of the first be challenges, and that I would soon become well aware of was, how do I get the daily menus? I decided I would limit the choices to just 3 supermarkets as I know the culture here in Cayman and most people head to the supermarkets at lunch. And being that it would be 3 stores it would be easier to get info, boy was I wrong.
For the first few week’s I called the 3 supermarkets and just asked what they were serving that day, simple and that worked. But, as time drew on it became quite difficult to call them, enter the info onto the site and maintain a full time job, plus many times I couldn’t get through.
I knew I had to find an easier way, so after some digging around online I found one restaurant had a mailing list the other a menu online and the last had a mailing list but it was always hours late. With this info I decide to change the focus of the site to reflect these sources, I would aggregate the info and have it on WHL.
Well a few months went by and whilst the word was getting around I started to realize I need more of and offering to get more users, so I decided to add some restaurants. Now how was I going to get this info? Well I had to change the focus of the site again. So I quickly adapted the site to be more of a repository of menus, instead of the focus being on strictly a daily lunch menu site it would be just lunch menus.
There are some known websites in the same space as WHL but none come close to content and design (I’m bias of course). But overall most are focused on the entire menu. Whilst WHL was just lunch based.
The design was always overlooked unfortunately and I guess I always saw WHL as a test of sort of developing a web service in Cayman, so I didn’t put a lot of effort in it.
Since around the same time of WHL I was messing around with Drupal I decided to use it. I was well aware of it’s power and it’s flaws, but I would be able to hit the ground running really quickly.
This case study is far from being over and if you read this in the future you’ll probably see some added notes to it. I still high hopes for WHL as of right now I can’t dedicate as much time as I would like. But along the way I’ve learned some valuable lessons about designing, developing and running a web service. I now know that whilst it might sound good on paper, so more effort is require to understand the culture of your audience and to always know that it’s ok to change the focus of your service or website.