Client Work Case Study
Yelp Economic Average Website
Yelp connects people with great local businesses and provides a one-stop local platform for consumers to discover, connect and transact with local businesses of all sizes. With tens of millions of users and businesses listed, Yelp’s data provides incredible insight into all sorts of things — from economic growth, to emerging cuisines, to one-of-a-kind businesses.
We’ve been working with Yelp’s Communications team to produce data-driven stories since early 2018. One of our longest running collaborations has been the Yelp Economic Average (YEA), a quarterly report that tracks the performance of local economies across the United States.
At first, the reports lived directly on the Yelp blog. But it eventually became clear that Yelp’s Communications team needed a dedicated website to educate audiences on the value of Yelp’s economic data. We were tasked with designing and developing that site, which would become a home for previous YEA reports, an explanation of the methodology, and press links.
January 2020–September 2020
Economists, researchers and policymakers / journalists / Yelp users and business owners
We designed a beautiful website that aligned with the aesthetic of Yelp’s investor relations and newsroom websites. We ported over previous reports we helped develop from the company’s blog and added secondary pages that provided more information about the YEA methodology and Yelp’s data science team. Since then, our team has continued to manage the website and produce data visualizations for each new report.
The YEA website launched in January 2020 and has netted press wins for Yelp ever since. We’ve actually increased the cadence of our economic reports, in light of widespread interest in how the coronavirus is affecting local businesses. The latest YEA report, released at the end of Q2, drove over 400 total pieces of press coverage.
Continue using Yelp data to benchmark local economic activity in the U.S.
Provide a permanent “home” for the Yelp Economic Average that explains its purpose and the methodology behind it.
Drive press for the Yelp brand through original, data-driven research.
College Towns Have Been Disproportionately Impacted by COVID-19, But Are Bouncing Back
Increased Consumer Interest in May Correlates with COVID-19 Hot Spots in June, According to the Yelp Economic Average
The Yelp Communications team provided us with a one-page, written document outlining their vision for the website’s organization and structure. Our team then got to work turning that document into a full-fledged mockup of every page on the site.
Yelp had recently undergone a comprehensive rebrand around the time we were designing this site, including updates to their color palette and typestack. We modeled the aesthetic of this site off of Yelp’s investor relations and newsroom websites, which both adhered to new brand guidelines.
Yelp’s Creative team helped create a number of assets for the site, including the hero image and illustrations on the homepage. All other assets, including the feature images for each individual report, were designed by The DataFace team.
We also ported over older YEA reports that had originally been published on the Yelp blog. We updated some of the graphics in the process, so that they adhered to the new style guidelines.
We created all interactive data viz on the site with D3.js. Some of the static visualizations were designed in Tableau.
To collaborate with Yelp on the website’s text, we created a lightweight CMS using Google Docs, ArchieML, and Handlebars. Yelp’s Communications team writes copy for any new report in a Google Doc, which we then convert to JSON and add to the site from the command line.
The original design and development work for the website took place over the last month of 2019. We checked in code via GitHub and set up a test link using GitHub Pages so that the Yelp team could track our progress.
Yelp regularly compiled feedback on the test link via Google Doc, which we triaged and added to our task management system as we went.
We worked with Yelp’s engineering team to create a deployment process using Netlify. Any push to the main branch of our GitHub repository now triggers an automatic deployment.
The YEA website officially launched on January 7, 2020 and has been building momentum ever since.
We’ve helped with three new YEA reports so far this year. The latest one, published in mid-July, focused on how increased consumer interest in restaurants, bars and nightlife, and gyms on Yelp in May correlated with a spike in COVID-19 cases the following month. The report earned links from almost 1,000 distinct websites, including top tier outlets like ABC News, CBS This Morning, CNN, Forbes, Associated Press, NPR, and many others. On social media, articles that mentioned the report garnered more than 440,000 likes, comments, and shares.
We’ve also started releasing more frequent local economic impact reports on the site, to keep updating the public on the pandemic’s economic impact between YEA reports. These have made waves in the press and on social media as well.
YEA Q2 2020 Press
CNN International’s First Move with Julia Chatterley
Yelp: 60% of U.S. Restaurant COVID-19 Closures Permanent (Broadcast)
Coronavirus Impact Reports Press
The Wall Street Journal
140,000 Businesses Listed on Yelp Are Still Closed Because of Covid-19 Pandemic
YEA Tweets and Social Media
Civil Rights Advocate Ben Crump
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal
US House Candidate Jamaal Bowman
US Senator Marco Rubio
Charles Schwab’s Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders
Medium CEO Evan Williams
The DataFace's small, but nimble team continues to exceed expectations — even during uncertain circumstances and tight deadlines. The Yelp Economic Average microsite and data visualizations bring Yelp's data storytelling to life and have helped further educate our key stakeholders on the value of our data. Since the launch of the new site in January, we've seen an exponential increase in interest from media, top financial institutions and researchers alike.