The city looks different when you’re a parent. Bars become emergency bathroom stops during the day. Restaurants are rated by quality of affordable grilled cheese sandwiches rather than their count of prix fixe courses. And your favorite hipster coffee shop hates you (even more than before).
So for all of my fellow parents, there’s Winnie, a new iOS app spotted by TNW that’s pretty much Yelp or Foursquare, seen through the eyes of other child-raising folk. Its core interface works like any GPS map service you know, but instead of listing a bunch of places reviewed by twenty-somethings who need to prove to the world that, yes, they did study abroad for a semester in college, and no, it might not have technically been to Thailand, but yes, they above all others know what authentic pad thai tastes like, the map is populated by restaurants, museums, and public spaces that parents have scrutinized.
Through the Winnie lens, restaurants are noted for amenities like changing tables and the ability to nurse a baby in peace, while user comments might focus on how family-friendly a menu and wait staff are.
Ultimately, Winnie isn’t doing anything that new with its design beyond adding some family-specific icons, but new design isn’t really necessary here. Winnie is proving how existing designs for finding places to go–the somewhat time-honored traditions founded by Google Maps–can serve totally new functions when serving a very particular audience. Consider the traffic app Waze. Waze’s front end may be a bit different from Google Maps, sure, but it found its real appeal in marketing itself to a specific social network of people who wanted constant, up-to-date information about their drive, be it related to traffic or speed traps or road work. Waze invited a select group of people to overshare, and in doing so, was able to generate both the sort of crowdsourced data and loyal following that Google would pay $1.3 billion for. You might take the exact same lesson from Yelp, if you replaced every mention of “driving” with “eating.”
In fact, even Google customizes its Maps platform for every cohort logged in. By analyzing our habits, Google will actually display maps that highlight different places for different people. But it’s tough to be everything to everyone. In this regard, Winnie zeroed in on the largely untapped market of parents–an active market of customers who spend a whole lot of money on junk for their families, but with no better options, can only use Everyblock to gossip with neighbors while still defaulting to Yelp and Google Maps searches to find the hip coffee shops that never wanted us there in the first place.