At Sparkle, we are amazed how creative our customers are with user generated content daily. We were blown away by Rob Edwards this week. He is a digital designer and Head of Design at JustGiving, the charity fundraising and social crowd funding platform. By night (and lunch), he’s a real foodie – taking his taste buds on daily adventures while putting these places on the map.
Read on to find out what he has to say about Sparkle!
I guess it’s that combination of skills and interests that led me to establish TWEATS London a few weeks ago, says Rob. Our website features a crowdsourced map of amazing places to eat around the city – from street food to hidden gem restaurants to cult-status cuisine. With a little help from Sparkle of course!
What Were The Problems That You Aimed To Solve With Sparkle?
You can summarise the problems we wanted to solve in three parts:
I first came up with the idea of the independent food map of London a couple of years ago, when I saw the same chain restaurants popping up literally everywhere and small food businesses getting pushed out.
I wanted to create a connection between great food vendors and people wanting to discover interesting places to eat; because who wants to eat the same generic, chain food every day? For me, it’s the little quirks and differences that make experiences memorable.
But how to build a map without the time to eat absolutely everywhere?
I realised that if I wanted to get TWEATS London up running quickly, it would have to be driven by a community and effectively be ‘by foodies’ as well as for them.
That’s where Sparkle came in. I was looking around for a social aggregator with lots of flexibility that would give me a chance to test and learn with inputs from different social channels.
What Were The Obstacles That Have Prevented You From Buying This Type Of Product Before?
Well, being a designer who dabbles in a bit of coding, it was really important to me that the feeds and map provided looked clean and stylish, with the flexibility I needed to customize CSS and make the output ‘ownable’ for my new MVP brand. So ugly and inflexible aggregators were a definite no!
I’ve come across quite a few aggregators through work over time and most of them are a bit lame with limited customisation options. They looked like social feeds powered by the brand’s content, rather than the other way around if that makes sense?
How Did Sparkle Help You?
I did the Sparkle trial and was massively impressed by the options available to me in terms of styling and customising content.
It was very easy to set up my Sparkle and add it to my website. None of the frustrations and compromises that I had experienced previously using competitors’ tools. I’d kinda got used to the fact that this was an area of compromise, so I was very pleasantly surprised to get so much control at my fingertips.
What Specific Feature Did You Like The Most?
I’ve already mentioned the styling and the map is a bit of a given!
Another thing that I really like – and I hadn’t put a lot of thought into pre-purchase – is the moderation control that Sparkle provides. I get to add filters for what I do and don’t want to pull in. This means I’m mostly delighted with the map pins that get added automatically.
Posts appear on the map when and where our hashtag “#tweatslondon” is used on Instagram.
And if I want to manually review, it’s all there. It’s very easy to search, approve and reject posts, as required.
I’m sure there are more useful super-user type features that I’m still to discover.
Would You Recommend Sparkle? If So, Why?
I would absolutely recommend Sparkle to anybody who needs a social tool like this.
What sets Sparkle apart is probably attention to detail – attention to customer needs around design and experience. Because I design and build digital products, it really comes across when you feel the benefit of a user-centred approach. I have more or less everything I need, without a lot of ‘noise’ from things I don’t.
Good job guys!
Is There Anything You Would Like To Add?
To the product? Well as tweatslondon.com is a map-based aggregator, I would love to see the current location button in there. It’s a big ask. However, if we could allow our users to search the map for posts, they would only ever be a couple of taps away from something delicious!
Also, for anyone who’s found some amazing food in London, please use hashtag #tweatslondon to get it on the map.
It’s very early days for us, but if we can prove this model works for London, then we would like to do some enhancement on v1, before launching TWEATS in other cities. And it’s great to have such solid tech behind us.