How it all started.

 

What began with an observation of how much friends liked the restaurant food I shared on Facebook, evolved into Dafoodie. Despite the popularity of those posts, I had many friends from out of state I did not want to flood with food pics. One day it dawned on me: rather than just posting to my Facebook, what if I started a website and shared this with other Orlandoans? Since early 2010, I have now shared a ton of dishes on the site. Every time I think of this I look down to my stomach and say: “Dude, that’s a lot of food"!

The Prototype

The design direction started from playing around with a concept on how to show a gallery of dishes that, for the sake of simplicity, would only be filtered by 10 types of cuisine and 10 locations around Orlando. Each photo would include the dish title, restaurant and address. 

The first website wireframe.

The first website wireframe.

After getting some feedback from friends and family, it was time to come up with a more polished design, some additional pages and a logo to communicate the playfulness of the brand. Luckily enough, after a brief brainstorming session for names tied to "foodie", I found the domain dafoodie.com was available and bought it on the spot, as well as securing all the social media handles. 

The version 1.0 design, featuring big buttons, a glossy interface and a nice wooden background.

The version 1.0 design, featuring big buttons, a glossy interface and a nice wooden background.

After seeing this momentum and excited about the idea of building such an app, my programmer friend from college, Ahmed Herrera, joined in and we quickly started to work on a prototype. At the time, we thought that allowing people to submit photos would contribute to more content in less time and it would work without them having to create an account. Ahmed was clever enough to add the functionality that if people would tweet and use the #dafoodie hashtag, that it would pull the image if one was attached to the tweet and upload it into an admin portal automatically for approval. The app would automatically auto-watermark each photo, as a time-saving feature.

A working prototype of the Dafoodie app narrated by my friend Ryan McClung.

We eventually decided to have it be just an iPhone app since it made more sense to have this delectable content in the palm of your hands, utilizing the location services and other GPS features of smart phones. It would also be convenient to not have to maintain both a web app and a phone app. 

Dafoodie Logo Animation by Ryan Boyle of Sketchy Pictures, featuring the "Decide What to Eat" slogan.

The original slogan ended up being "Decide what to eat" because like me, I thought many people would go to a restaurant and not know what to choose because they could not visualize it. The server would either have to describe it or they would catch a glance at what their neighbor at the next table is having. That’s where Dafoodie would come in. Almost every restaurant that I visited was because I saw a dish of theirs on social media, and I intended to help others do the same by making it easier to decide what to eat and where to get it.

The last iteration of the concept (at least in design) was to allow the top 10 foodies in the top 10 cities to curate the top dishes across 10 cuisines around 10 locations in that city . A lot of top 10s huh?! Well, there's that razor sharp focus for you. Of course, we would start with Orlando.

Dafoodie Version 3 featured content curation by the top 10 local foodies.

Dafoodie Version 3 featured content curation by the top 10 local foodies.

The Smart Car

Then there was the Smart Car. It was hard not to picture the Dafoodie smiley on my smart car’s bumper whenever I looked at it. And so I took to photoshop to design what it would look like and showed it to a friend with a graphics company. He loved the idea and offered to wrap it in vinyl. I thought it would be fun to drive around in my own clown car.

Dafoodie Car Blueprint

Dafoodie Car Blueprint

Dafoodie Car Wrap Timelapse

The car got a lot of compliments and attention, unfortunately at times from people taking pictures of it while driving. Not safe guys, not safe. It would show up occasionally at local food truck events, farmers markets and food festivals.

Dafoodie Car at the Orlando Museum of Art. Photo by Gustavo Vargas Photography

Dafoodie Car at the Orlando Museum of Art. Photo by Gustavo Vargas Photography

Dafoodie Car Front

Dafoodie Car Front

All along, Dafoodie has been my expression for learning and experimenting things related to building and marketing a brand. All that matters is that I feel fulfilled with what I am creating, loving the work I do, having fun with what I'm doing and being true to myself. Until the Dafoodie app becomes a reality, I'll continue to share on Instagram and this site. Thanks for joining me on this foodie journey. I'm really excited for what’s ahead.

 

Gustavo
Head Foodie