The Yellow Pages

The Yellow Pages as a business has stagnated for years, failing to keep up with the times and try new things as everyone moved towards a digital world. The inception of the iPhone in 2007 reinvented what we thought a smartphone could be. In 2014 it’s difficult to go anywhere without seeing people of all ages transfixed to their smartphone. Most of us now use some sort of location aware app to find what we need, so why is is the Yellow Pages still in business? I remember getting a Yellow Pages delivered to my door back in the 90s. My parents and I used it often to find businesses that offered services we needed, be it home repair or pizza delivery. Sadly, even with the ubiquity of mobile phones in modern times, I continued to have the Yellow Pages delivered to my door, which I never requested. The only place I felt the book deserved to be is in the recycling bin, so that’s exactly where I placed it.

Long since forgotten, it was only earlier this year where I started to notice the Yellow Pages again, which they’ve now quaintly rebranded as “YP.” Suddenly bus stops, billboards, and even stalls of mens washrooms at local pubs were plastered with ads for the new YP iOS app. I gave these ads nothing but a passing thought at first, until I repeatedly starting seeing them, week after week. The ads mentioned you can discover interesting places around you, which is what Yelp offers, so why care? Yelp and YP are going after the same market, however, perhaps I would get better local results since this is the “Canadian YP”. You can use the YP app to discover shopping, restaurants, gas stations and other services based on your geolocation.

The 4.2 update recently added integration with StreetFood so you can locate your favourite food trucks, or find new ones–something that slightly differentiates with Yelp (for now). Yelp has been a great service which I’ve relied on for years. One thing I like to do is read some of the user reviews for a business I’m unfamiliar with. Reviews don’t define whether or not I will give them a chance, however I take them into account in my decision making process. The discovery aspect of the YP app seems to work well enough, however, there’s fewer data available, such as business hours, and reviews are few and far between (I anticipate this will improve in time with increased adoption).

Yelp still leap frogs YP because it simply got its start years ago. Its curated user reviews have taken time to build, and this is something that is sorely lacking from the YP database. From a design perspective, it’s pleasant to look at with its mute yellow colour theme. It conforms to the iOS 7 design aesthetic, but also adds some nice translucency and transition effects when tapping on the hamburger menu (the main view shrinks to reveal settings and other options. There are some egregious interaction issues and one standard swipe gesture missing (more on that later). iOS 7 introduced single finger swipe gestures for navigating back and forth between views. Being able to swipe to move back and forth between a view is especially necessary on larger screens like the iPhone 5/5s, which is too tall to comfortably reach the top edges without shifting placement of the device in hand. It’s frustrating that I have to reposition my device in order to tap a button at the top left of the screen in order to go back. I trust that the developers will fix this in a future update. The top portion of the app features a menu bar that has your typical hamburger button as well as search filters for business, person, or reverse phone lookup. The problem I encountered was when scrolling down, the top bar disappears. When you’ve scrolled half way down and want to access your settings or try one of the search filters, you’re forced to scroll all the way back to the top (annoying). What I’d like to see is that top bar have a fixed placement.

What spurred my interest was two fold: curiousness and a relentless well designed marketing campaign. There’s no barrier to entry either as the app is free. For the moment, I don’t see a large enough benefit to switching from Yelp completely, however, I plan on continuing to use YP as I remain cautiously optimistic about its ongoing development.

YP iOS
YP iOS hidden menu
YP iOS profile

Published by Alex Knight

Alex Knight is a broadcaster, podcaster, and audio engineer. In addition to over 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector and media landscape, he holds a diploma from BCIT’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program and numerous certifications from the UBC Sauder School of Business in project management and general management. He’s been working on building a podcast network media company more recently and has done Voice-over engineering, mixing, and mastering sessions at On The Mic Training in Vancouver.