It is midnight on a Saturday. The fridge at home might be empty, or maybe you are downtown, aimlessly wandering in search of some late-night grub. Whatever the case may be, it is late and you are hungry.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Two Western students realized this common problem and sought to develop a service to provide Bellingham residents with a quick and easy way to see what restaurants and food stops are open. On Saturday, March 2, juniors Eva Giselle and Nick Quinlan launched the website DrunkWWU.com.
Giselle, a graphic design major, came up with the idea for DrunkWWU based off of a similar website for University of Washington students, DrunkUW.com.
“I’ve been aware of that website for a long time and I’ve always thought that Western needed something like that,” Giselle said. “I thought I could implement it better.”
On DrunkWWU.com, users are presented with a list of restaurants that are currently open. The order in which the restaurants show up on the page is randomly generated, and each listing shows the address, phone number, type of food, delivery options, and a self-updating timer that displays how much longer that particular restaurant will be open. The site’s ease and simplicity corresponds with mobile web-browsing devices. Users can click the phone number to call the restaurant or click on the address to have its location displayed on Google Maps.
Giselle and Quinlan both said the website was designed to serve a much larger audience than intoxicated persons of legal age. They said that while the site would work well for such individuals, the name of “DrunkWWU” was primarily for good marketing.
“It exploded,” Giselle said. “Within a couple hours, it had already gotten a few hundred ‘likes’ and thousands of page views. It spread like wildfire on Facebook. That’s where most of our referrals come from.”
Quinlan, a business management major, designed and programmed the back end of the site, consisting of the restaurant database and behind-the-scenes functions. Giselle programmed the front-end interface and did the graphic work. Quinlan had to manually enter all the data for the restaurant information.
“I went on all their websites and I had to call a couple,” Quinlan said. “Bellingham business websites are horrible. I wanted to rip my eyes out.”
The two web developers also purchased the domain names HungryWWU.com and HighWWU.com. All three sites are identical to each other, despite some minor changes in the graphics.
“[HighWWU] was kind of catering to a specific crowd that I thought might also want to use it,” Giselle said. “The logo is different. It’s subtlety animated just to mess with people.”
“Hungry WWU is definitely the one that is going to go into our portfolios,” Giselle said.
Giselle and Quinlan are currently in the process of designing and planning new features for the site. They want to include a GPS system that will be able to locate a user’s location and then order the restaurants according to closest location. The two have also considered monetizing the site by allowing businesses to pay to be at the top of the list.
“Most of the feedback we’ve gotten has been overwhelming positive,” Giselle said. “There have been people who have suggested new feature to us, features we are actually already working on. So that was reassuring that they want the same things that we are making.”
Giselle said that an application is also a possibility for the future of DrunkWWU.
“It exploded way faster than I ever imagined that it would and it got much more popular than we expected so we’re very pleased and surprised,” Giselle said. b