Lynette Chiu | Writer + Strategist
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Chipotle Ordering Apps: UX Writing

Role: Copywriter
Agency: Sequence

Chipotle devotees will do anything to get their burrito fix, including wading through outdated, sub-optimal ordering flows. But because Chipotle cares about design, it enlisted Sequence to envision and re-envision all of its ordering avenues, ensuring that everything was streamlined and contained that signature Chipotle visual and verbal flair. Over several years, I served as writer, nomenclaturer, and additional design brain as Sequence provided hungry people better digital avenues for satisfying their cravings.

I first took on a most challenging form factor for a writer: the Apple Watch. Chipotle’s app was one of the first to market, and made the intended splash through a most appealing home interface: a large red graphic reading “Burrito Button” that screamed out to be poked. 

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The order-for-pickup process had to be super simple at every step; it was meant to be the fastest way to get a Chipotle meal, and in the process, implicitly promote the the joys of owning Apple’s flashy new accessory. 

The app was best positioned for frequent orderers, as their recent orders and favorite orders got ported in for easy re-ordering. The challenge was designing and writing for the people who’d never ordered through Chipotle’s site or app before. It was not possible to set up an account sign-up flow within the watch infrastructure, so Burrito Button users could only jump in to ordering from their wrists if they had a history with Chipotle. Those without Chipotle accounts had to be directed to set themselves up through the iPhone app, designate a pick-up location, and enter their payment info. Interrupting the experience to tell someone they had to leave the experience in order to proceed was perhaps the trickiest bit for me to nail. 

Here’s an excerpt of the flow designed by Chelsea Carpenter Gil, and the proposed copy for that use case.

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We ultimately went with “Hold up” as the alert headline, and had to lose some of the voice; we trimmed the message by 10 words. Those screens are seriously small.

We did, however, provide a small gift after order confirmation for those restless, anxious, and bored users: a countdown clock to track the progress of their order. 

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Partnering with Apple to debut in tandem with the watch garnered the Burrito Button plenty of buzz. It made people excited about the watch, and made it a little too easy to eat Chipotle a little too often.

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Next up in my Chipotle ordering odyssey was the overhaul of the desktop and mobile app look and feel and user journey. There are more screens and paths than you might imagine, requiring plenty of messaging to make people feel fully guided and never lost on the way through to payment.

One convenient feature Chipotle offers is group ordering, where one person sets it up and invites people to join via email and submit their orders individually before she places the full order. I jumped in to write invitation email copy, and craft different messaging on the ordering screen for organizers and guests.

Here’s what you see when you click the link in the email to join a group order. 

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The design and UX team thought through what options for action a user should have at each step of the journey. I provided copy for some of the wireframes, and as we translated wires into designed screens, I wrote all copy down to the buttons. I also weighed in on the kinds of questions that bubble up when things start getting real:

  • Can people decide to leave a group order partway through assembling their order?

  • What do we tell people if their order times out due to inactivity?

  • A confirmation screen is an opportunity to prompt users to take another action, so what do we suggest they do?

We created new screens on the fly, and I wrote all the subsequent messaging. And, hovering together around monitors, we identified a couple screens that could be cut or consolidated, which is always a delightful outcome.

In regard to the first question above, we determined that group order invitees should be able to opt out in the middle of choosing black over pinto, and made sure to add the option across multiple screens.

Here’s the overlay that displays when someone jumps ship mid-order, followed by the confirmation copy.

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Another case to consider was the time sensitivity of the group order. Once the organizer sets the order in motion, invitees have a limited time to respond (which is fair, because the organizer herself is probably hungry and can’t wait on people who are afk indefinitely).

For people who respond too late, there’s this:

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While UX writing has to be as short and sweet as possible, I sought out places to include the snappy language the chain has become known for, livening up the Chipotle app’s “first open" screens.

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I also left a mark on the sitewide Change/Reset Password flow. Passwords are like salsa, and password strength meters don’t need to be the same dry thing everywhere you go.

Fin.

Fin.