Foursquare continues to pivot from its location-based, check-in origins and tiptoe in on Yelp’s business model with its increasing focus on local business search. Later today, as SearchEngineLand first reported, PC users will notice a significant user experience update to Foursquare’s landing page in the form of a search box.
Right now, Foursquare has a search element but it’s rather hidden, sitting on the top right hand corner of your screen next to the “Log In” button. Clicking on this expands the search bar, where you can input local restaurants, theaters, or other things to do, but it’s hardly a point of focus for the platform. When Foursquare redesigned its site and mobile app back in early June, the company was more concerned about educating existing and new users about the refreshed user experience that focused on deals, recommendations, and social updates. But with the “probationary period” over for users to get adjusted to the new Foursquare, the company is hitting the message home that it’s a local search tool, too.
To see the new homepage when the redesign is rolled out, you’ll have to be logged out of your account. SearchEngineLand got a firsthand look at the new design, and notes that the rest of the site’s features will remain unchanged. However there will soon be a few added features that non-members would be able to access without being required to sign up or sign in.
Non-members, of course, won’t have access to everything Foursquare has to offer, but the search feature and some of what it offers will be available without an account. When you search for an establishment on Foursquare, the results will be ordered by a score based on user feedback, and you’ll have filters available to refine your search. According to SearchEngineLand, the one filter that will be made available to non-members is a “Foursquare special.” More robust filters that use user and friend-sourced data will of course require a user to register with the site.
The prominently featured search bar is an inevitable and a much-needed part of Foursquare’s recent branding efforts, and it should encourage new use since visitors aren’t required to sign up to access it. But this is just one step by Foursquare to establish itself as a location-based local establishment search engine that has access to our data and friend’s data — which could give it a leg up on Yelp. Yelp has established itself with its community-driven reviews and ratings and become the de facto guide for business search, but Foursquare obviously has the social lead. Refining search could help it compete with the legacy Yelp has created.