[Editor's note: Schlafly Beer debuted its smart-phone app last month, and we asked two Gut Check bloggers, Robin Wheeler and Andrew Veety, to take it for a spin. Below, their respective reviews.]
Robin Wheeler's take:
Everyone loves a good shiny thing. Press a button and receive yummy tidbits of information and we're rat-happy. Who doesn't want a free iPhone app?
Combine a free app with local food and beer? Even better!
All it takes to make an app is a relatively inexpensive piece of software and a little tech knowhow. There's no reason chains like Chipotle and Starbucks should own the market on apps. Maybe Schlafly's entrance into the app world will inspire other St. Louis restaurants and food companies to follow suit. We've gotta start somewhere.
Like at the top of the application's main page, and what's not so hot about it.
The newsletter link goes to the Schlafly website, which isn't optimized to read on an iPhone. A dedicated iPhone version of the newsletter would work so much better.
And what's the point of the e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook links, which go to the user's e-mail, Twitter and Facebook accounts? Users already have access to those features built into their iPhone. If these links took you to Schlafly's Facebook page, where you might post on their wall, send a Tweet or directly e-mail the company, they'd be a lot more useful.
Now the good stuff...
The "Our Beers" section is informative and pretty. Even if you're well versed in Schlafly's products, you can use this section to suggest beers to friends and to double-check when your favorite seasonals are being released. The ability to send the beer descriptions to others would be useful. Or, for the social-media nerds, the ability to hit a button on the beer's description and have it post on Twitter or Facebook would be fun.
The "On Tap" link's probably the most useful part of the application -- as long as Schlafly keeps it up to date. It could be better, though. The beers on the list should be linked to the "Our Beers" section so users can read the description of the beer with a touch.
For an application to be worthwhile, it needs to benefit the creator and the user. The "On Tap" section does this better than any part of the application. Schlafly gets your business because you know that what you want is available, and you get beer. Win-win. It doesn't take many experiences like that for a company to pay for the production of an application.
They could take it a step further and include menus and specials for the Tap Room and Bottleworks. Same goes for the events calendar -- and again, links to deeper descriptions of the events would be more useful.
Overall, Schlafly's got the right idea. With a little tweaking to making the interface more useful, they just might set the standard for food and beer apps in St. Louis.
Next, Andrew Veety's two cents' worth...