UX Research Case Study:

Prototype UX Testing of a New McDonald’s Mobile Ordering Flow

A McDonald’s product innovation team was redesigning a key app experience. To uncover friction points prior to rollout, McDonald’s partnered with Marketade on iterative UX research: prototype testing with 19 users followed by rapid design changes followed by live app testing with another 19 users.


Over 40 million people in the U.S. downloaded the McDonald’s mobile app in 2022. This represented a 67% year-over-year increase compared to an 11% average increase among its competitors. According to the industry magazine QSR, “McDonald’s blew the competition out of the water” in the mobile space in 2022.

As the Chicago-based company has shifted more of its focus to mobile ordering, the app’s user experience has become critical to its bottom line.

In 2022, a McDonald’s app product team was tackling a customer pain point related to the mobile ordering and restaurant pickup experience. The team designed an updated version of the mobile ordering app experience to address this pain point.

The new flow reduced and reordered key steps to make the ordering and pickup process faster and more intuitive. It also introduced new features to give customers more knowledge and control over the process.

The McDonald’s team wanted to ensure that these changes improved the user experience before rolling them out. They partnered with Marketade to conduct qualitative UX testing. Among other things, the team sought to understand:

  • Any points of friction or confusion for customers with the new flows
  • How closely users’ awareness and understanding of new features and content align with designer expectations
  • How effective new features and content are at improving the experience
  • How the new experience compares to the existing experience for people who have placed mobile orders in the past
  • How the new experience performs for people who are new to mobile ordering



Marketade designed and led a 2-phase study: prototype testing followed by live app testing. Between the phases, McDonald’s implemented rapid design changes based on the problems uncovered in the initial testing.

By the end of the project, we had:

  • Conducted sessions with 38 participants
  • Tested both English and Spanish-language versions of the app
  • Gained input from a racially and ethnically diverse consumer group from all 4 U.S. Census regions and most divisions
  • Delivered over 30 findings and recommendations

Here are more details on each of the phases.


Phase 1: Prototype Testing

  • We facilitated a kickoff meeting with McDonald’s product and research team members.
  • We created a research plan that included a recruitment plan and interview scripts.
  • We recruited 19 participants using 2 rounds of screening (web and phone) to find the right mix based on various criteria. An example: some participants had previously placed a McDonald’s mobile order while others were new to mobile ordering.
  • We conducted remote usability testing sessions lasting about 40 minutes each. On each session, one researcher moderated the session while a second researcher observed and took notes.
  • Within each session, we spent ~10 minutes asking each participant about their past online ordering experience, 15-20 minutes observing them interact with the prototype, and ~10 minutes asking follow-up questions.
  • 3 of our researchers collaborated to analyze the research, identify UX problems, and generate solution ideas.
  • We met with the McDonald’s team to present our findings and recommendations, including highlight reels from the research for each of the biggest friction points. We focused the discussion on changes that could be implemented prior to rollout and the next round of testing.

In the opening part of the session, our researcher (right) asks a participant (left) about their past experiences with mobile ordering.

Phase 2: Live App Testing

  • We aligned with the McDonald’s team on new research questions, design changes, and revisions to the recruitment profile.
  • We revised our interview scripts to work with a live app and updated flows.
  • We recruited 19 new participants, including 8 native Spanish-speaking participants living in the U.S.
  • We used a similar process to conduct and analyze the research as we had in Phase 1. A native Spanish-speaking researcher conducted the Spanish-language interviews.
  • We delivered a findings deck that highlighted the performance of any design changes from Phase 1, prioritized new insights, and provided additional solution recommendations.


By the end of the project, our team had:

  • Conducted sessions with 38 participants
  • Tested both English and Spanish-language versions of the app
  • Gained input from a racially and ethnically diverse consumer group from all 4 U.S. Census regions and most divisions
  • Delivered over 30 prioritized UX findings and recommendations

By using an iterative research approach, the McDonald’s team was able to spot and tackle the top friction points before rolling out their new app experience.

​More Case Studies


A Year in the Life of an Enterprise User Research Program: GEICO

Learn how we worked with a long-term retainer client to turn their research projects and programs into valuable tools that help meet their goals.

Product/Market Fit Research for Verizon’s Innovation Group

A Verizon team needed to test key assumptions to move closer to product/market fit for a new enterprise software concept. Our rapid research cycle delivered new user insights that helped answer their questions and validate/invalidate their hypotheses.

About the Project

  • Industry: Food service/restaurants
  • Platform: Mobile app
  • Audience: Consumers
  • Method: Qualitative usability testing
  • Stakeholders: Product and insights teams
  • Company size: 200,000 office employees
  • Company headquarters: Chicago, IL