Foodspotting, the app that lets you discover and share photos of the best dishes around the world, just redesigned  its website to make it easier to search for places to eat, turning the site into a destination for the web's foodies.
Now, when you visit Foodspotting.com, you'll see the service's Foursquare-like Explore feature front and center. (Coincidentally, Foursquare  also just launched a similar redesign  of its website.) Explore, which lets users search for and sort through dishes and restaurants on a maps-based interface, has always been a staple Foodspotting feature, but for the past couple of years the homepage has been reserved for a big house ad for its mobile app.
The new redesign helps the three-year-old service bring its website--which gets about a million visitors a month--up to speed with its mobile app, which recently reached 3.5 million downloads. The goal is that in syncing up all its offerings, Foodspotting can position itself to both new and returning users as the go-to service for all their food-related needs, whether they're looking for a place to go on the fly or doing research on dishes to try in the future.
"We lost some of the joy of exploring Foodspotting on the web, which solves a completely different use case in your food-finding experience than mobile," CEO Alexa Andrzejewski  tells Fast Company. "On the web, it’s more about exploring and discovering things you might want to eat later."
Andrzejewski says Foodspotting shifted its focus this year from the food spotters--the minority of users who have posted 2.5 million photos of what they're eating--to the food seekers, who might not be taking photos, but who are still turning to the app for recommendations.
"What’s interesting is that in the process of focusing on the food seekers, we’ve been seeing the number of people uploading photos increasing each month," Andrzejewski says. "By creating things for food seekers, like the ability to easily scan through dishes and bookmark a bunch of stuff, that creates interactions with the spotter who originally posted that photo, and it sort of reinforces the action of sharing content."
With the new fleshed-out web presence to complement its app, Foodspotting feels much more like an actual service along the lines of Yelp or Foursquare , though it still strictly targets a niche community of eaters and places an emphasis on building a positive community (you can't give dishes on Foodspotting a thumbs-down). With this newest redesign, it's trying to hook people who don't find value in taking pictures of food as much as they do in bookmarking things they want to try, or doing research on a new place.
Foodspotting's next ambitious focus will be on rolling out "smart" suggestions for dishes users might want to try, based on their personal taste profiles built on what they've told Foodspotting about their preferences. And by studying patterns across large swaths of users, Andrzejewski says she'd like to be able to offer up solid suggestions to people who don't have activity histories on the service as well.
Until then, don't call Foodspotting a recommendation service.
"We don’t want to call anything a recommendation until we know it’s good," she says. "We want to be able to tell you why we’re showing it."
[Image: Flickr user SodanieChea ]