Wine Journal Apps Face Off - brnd.ws
I have a lot of apps. Too many! And there is one category that dominates my iPhone: Wine. Both for personal (I love wine) and professional (Easy Vino) reasons, I use and test a lot of wine apps. Within this category, wine journaling apps have always been the most popular. It’s an obvious use case on mobile: snap a photo, save that wine memory for later, maybe use it next time you’re at a shop trying to buy a bottle. That last step is tricky but one that everyone is trying to take. Why is it hard? Mostly for 2 reasons:
1. The market is very fragmented (there are millions of different wines in the world, and it’s hard to know what’s available around you)
2. Consumer patterns vary significantly among users (some people just like a very specific type of wine, some others like to be adventurous, and others yet like different wines for different occasions/moods).
Over the last few years, many apps have tried to get this right, and I have recently seen 2 of them emerge as clear front runners – Vivino (the older) and Delectable. Today we face them off.
Vivino’s onboarding starts pretty well – welcome screen followed by a simple email/password screen. When you think you’re done, here comes a mega screen you need to fill out. Worse than that, there’s no skip button AND I have no idea which fields are mandatory (and some are). And then when I try to pick a country other than the US (I am currently in Brazil), I get a “No internet” page (when I did have Internet connection at the time). This is just a bug, but the whole screen is a feature, one that should be optional.
As for Delectable, it offers a quick (and optional, which I like) tutorial on the welcome screen, followed by a short sign up form (I would eliminate the Name field if you ask me), and you’re in. You are actually immediately taken to the camera action, which I’m guessing is what most people want the first time they sign up.
This one is by a narrow margin. Both apps have basically the same navigation scheme and similar feed design.
I like a lot of things on Delectable’s UI, in particular the rating system (which they managed screw up, more on that bellow), and the recommendation matrix scheme. The matrix scheme tells me why a certain wine is being recommended, and at the same time lets me me scroll through a particular category. One problem here is the photos are unreasonably large and the UI feels crowded.
As for the rating system, Delectable uses faces (frown, meh, like, love) instead of Vivino’s stars. I like faces better because that’s how most wine drinkers feel about wine – I like it or I don’t. Stars imply a more structured thinking.
Then for some reason Delectable managed to screw up this good idea, and instead of a simple 4-tier rating, they built a continuum, which raises 2 problems:
1. It’s now more complicated than stars as it gives me almost an infinite number of rating options (do I meh this wine or meh-like it? Do I super love or just love it?)
2. This confusion translates to the rest of the UI, and now every time I’m looking at a wine’s rating I have to figure out that continuum and try to understand the 50 shades of great for each wine
Vivino’s UI is less ingenious but very effective. It feels less crowded, and the reading is more immediate. You can see that on the feed, where Delectable’s rating system comes to bite them back. The feed looks too crowded, in part because the photo is too large, but also because the rating bar takes too much room, hiding relevant information from the screen. Vivino fixed this shrinking the photo, and showing relevant information over the photo, allowing a few extra lines for comments and social call to action.
Vivino has a huge advantage here as they have been around longer than Delectable. These apps are supposed to do 2 things very well: help you keep a journal, and offer relevant recommendations. Neither of them is particular good at the latter, but Vivino is superior at the former.
Vivino’s image recognition is light years ahead of Delectable’s, which translates into a more immediate and gratifying user experience. For the most part, when I take a new photo on Delectable it can’t recognize the wine (which triggers a manual process). That means I will just close the app and probably forget about it until the next time I need to take another photo.
As for Vivino, the entire process of uploading the photo and recognizing the label feels really fast. They pull a couple of tricks but it’s mostly because they have a really good engine. However, I do remember Vivino’s early days, when the app was as slow as Delectable is today. Delectable will get better with time, as they amass more label photos and get better at getting the nuances right, but right now Vivino is the winner.
You can argue that Delectable has a better recommendation system. They do offer an option to buy the wine they recommend over the phone (if you are in the US), whereas Vivino only points to stores around you. The problem is that, if you don’t get journaling right, you won’t get recommendations right, and the commerce feature is therefore useless.
For now, I’ll stick with Vivino, although I will probably keep using both apps as I like the commerce option on Delectable, and hoping they get their rating system right.