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An Ode To Many A Restaurant Web Site


Holly Moore
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Oh my dear goodness yes.

What a restaurant website should have:

Hours

Address

Phone number

Menu (HTML, not PDF)

That is all.

Flash intro?

Music?

Animation?

PDFs?

DO. NOT. WANT.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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I have no objection to websites that want to use Flash on their full version: the public demands a pretty website, and the web designers I have spoken to say that Flash is the most affordable way to do it with current technology. So, fine. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE DETECT MOBILE DEVICES AND OPTIMIZE FOR THEM. Generally that is going to mean a flashless mobile page that contains just the info munchymom suggests.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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PDF menus are fine with me, because they reflect the design effort that went into a menu. There should be a backup plan for mobile devices, though.

Cross streets are helpful.

Hours that are accurate (time of last reservation, time of last order, etc.) and that explain what menu is offered when are useful.

For restaurants with ambition, a bio of the chef is nice. Photos of the food too.

I don't like splash pages that just constitute an extra step before you can get any real information.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hours of operation & reservations policy, on the FRONT PAGE. Menu can be a click or two away...don't bother me with some lengthy manifesto, statement of purpose, list of purveyors, etc. Shove all that stuff somewhere (way) behind the key details!

Now, once we get past the basics, I do like to see a chef's bio, related restaurants (if any), a recipe or two (esp if the place has a signature dish or companion cookbook), and some nice pics of the food. I don't want to see the decor, or the staff: show me the food.

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Flash is fine when it only takes a couple of seconds to load. Much longer and it is the media getting in the way of the message.

Music, unless it is Bill Monroe singing Blue Moon of Kentucky, is unnecessary and intrusive. If a site must load music, make it obvious how to shut it up.

Maybe it is just on the PCs I regularly run, but downloading a pdf menu pretty much takes over all my resources, making it impossible to do anything else but wait. And wait. I see two reasons for a restaurant going with pdf menus. Either the web designer wants to make it easy for the restaurant to post frequent menu changes or the web designer is lazy and doesn't want to type in the various menus. Whether well-intentioned or not, pdf menus always bring a grimace.

Speaking of menus - why do some restaurants not show pricing? No pricing and I figure the restaurant's prices are higher than one might expect and I go into "if I have to ask, I can't afford it" mode.

At least the sites being discussed here exist. Nothing is more frustrating than going to a new restaurant's web site to find out what they are about, and getting a space holder message - "Our web site is coming soon." So dumb, some restaurants.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Speaking of menus - why do some restaurants not show pricing? No pricing and I figure the restaurant's prices are higher than one might expect and I go into "if I have to ask, I can't afford it" mode.

If they post prices on their web site then when prices change, they have to go through the expense of changing the web site graphics/prices as well as their in-house menus. It's doesn't necessarily reflect poshne$$ but, perhaps, cheapskate-ness...to make up a word. :wink:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Nothing is more frustrating than going to a new restaurant's web site to find out what they are about, and getting a space holder message - "Our web site is coming soon."

I consider it worse to endure awfully clever introductory graphics or animation, even demanding sometimes you download a new tool just for the privilege, only to find that the site still lacks the basic information you seek, such as restaurant hours -- for many customers the whole reason to check the Web site at all. That's negative marketing and may cost the restaurant business. The Web designer idiotically throws obstacles in the customer's path and the restaurant complacently allows it.

Seems to happen especially when restaurants "farm out" sites to third parties intoxicated over cute graphics rather than customer needs. There should be a public recognition of this perversity, like the Darwin awards or the one for the year's worst opening line in a novel.

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  • 1 month later...

FYI: I saw a recent blurb from an ISP and domain registrar that markets services to make commercial Web sites more effective. The outstanding impediments to customer satisfaction that it identified are content overload, confusing navigation, and excessive Flash graphics.

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Whether you have a ginormous (sure ... it's a real word) Flash site or a large PDF of the menu available for download, please make sure that the company who hosts your site has the bandwidth to be able to serve it. I visited a restaurant's website and attempted to download a PDF of their menu and gave up after fifteen minutes and only 3% downloaded (I was at work, so bandwidth on my end wasn't a problem).

Agreed about music ... default should be off. I can't complain too loudly about Flash content being unavailable for mobile devices since my Android device upgraded to firmware 2.2. Then again, I still have to wait for it to be downloaded, which is annoying.

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The basics info needed are opening times, location, sample menu this must always be easily and accessible. if you use flash, silverlight or are heavy on graphics ensure that the home page has an easy to find link to a HTML graphics site. Ideally the meu and prices should be current, HTML preferred but PDF acceptable.

If you have intro graphics etc always let me skip them. Nice to watch once the 10th time its annoying. Use a cookie to turn on first time off after.

No music unless in an intro, but preferably no.

If you have a mobile site, always allow me to be able to get back to the full site and vice versa.

Try the site out on the 4 major browsers and their various versions and use several mobile devices to test as well.

Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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I agree that a website should have large Flash or large download PDF Menus. Our company website had this large Flash presentation that you have to wait about a minute or so to go through it. Work with a Flash that enables the customer to opt out of it and go straight to main website. We used to put jpeg pictures of our menus in our site but to make it a smaller download size, we had to make do with lower pixe quality. Now I put my menus on PDF using a freeware called CutePDF.

My suggestion is don't only trust your webmaster. Go to your webiste and feel how the guest would feel if he was to go to your site.

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I agree that a website should have large Flash or large download PDF Menus. Our company website had this large Flash presentation that you have to wait about a minute or so to go through it. Work with a Flash that enables the customer to opt out of it and go straight to main website. We used to put jpeg pictures of our menus in our site but to make it a smaller download size, we had to make do with lower pixe quality. Now I put my menus on PDF using a freeware called CutePDF.

My suggestion is don't only trust your webmaster. Go to your webiste and feel how the guest would feel if he was to go to your site.

Best suggestion yet!

My suggestion is don't only trust your webmaster. Go to your webiste and feel how the guest would feel if he was to go to your site.

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My suggestion is don't only trust your webmaster. Go to your webiste and feel how the guest would feel if he was to go to your site.

What an innovative idea! Actually test your online presence from your customer's viewpoint. :wink:

Might be a suggestion even for businesses beyond restaurants. (If, for example, Barnes and Noble had done it effectively when trying to compete online with Amazon a decade ago, they might have retained my business and, I hear, many other people's. Instead, not only did the site screw up, lose entered data, and act counter-intuitively -- accessed from the most common, vanilla-flavored office PC environment -- but as if to underline the problems, feedback to B&N yielded a request to document the PC installation I was using and all its options. Very wrong response. In reply I pointed out that Amazon's e-commerce software, accessed from various computers, simply worked. And note this was a major established national retailer, not just a small local restaurant business.)

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Splash pages, music, cutesy "Where's Waldo" navigation (which only appears when you mouseover) that you have to find hidden among the flash images, lengthy sermons from the church of Alice Waters on the main page. All annoying to me. I don't mind pdf menus and I can live with a short flash intro if it includes a "skip" button (although I'd prefer it not to be there if I had a choice). I don't go to a business website for art and fun, I go for information.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I agree that a website should have large Flash or large download PDF Menus. Our company website had this large Flash presentation that you have to wait about a minute or so to go through it. Work with a Flash that enables the customer to opt out of it and go straight to main website. We used to put jpeg pictures of our menus in our site but to make it a smaller download size, we had to make do with lower pixe quality. Now I put my menus on PDF using a freeware called CutePDF.

My suggestion is don't only trust your webmaster. Go to your webiste and feel how the guest would feel if he was to go to your site.

CutePDF is a great free PDF creation tool. Another, more comprehensive one is OpenOffice (openoffice.org). It's available for all the major operating systems (Windows, Mac and Linux). It will also interoperate with all of Microsoft Office's formats (current and prior) and allows you the ability to create PDF's directly from the interface. Did I mention it's free?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Like the author of that piece, I would swear I go through that exact set of circumstances with alarming frequency. Immediately visible on the front page (including non-flash version with mobile phone detection):

Hours (including specification by day of the week; say "closed Sunday" if closed and don't assume we'll figure that out)

Reservation policy/dress code (if jacket is required, for example)

Address

Special parking requirements, if any (I don't want my car towed)

Phone number

Fine to have a click away: HTML menu and something like Google maps linked from the address.

I don't need a lot from a restaurant website. I generally am going to look at Zagats, Yelp and the local newspapers for reviews, so linking to reviews (while nice) isn't necessarily needed; after all, no restaurant is going to post the negative reviews. Chef bio would actually be more interesting to me than the reviews, but that's just a "nice to have." Flash-heavy slideshows with music? Just make my blood boil. A simple photo of the exterior of the restaurant (which helps me identify it as I'm driving by) is also nice. If restaurants insist on having a "pretty" website (and I do understand why), I'd rather it be based upon a stylish picture of the restaurant (which does have some use to the consumer) than via a flash-y carnival of noisy, slow-loading features.

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I don't use a mobile device only a regular PC so this is just for your regualr PC user. I want to be able to know your hours of operation, address and phone number, and be able to look at a menu with prices. PDF is my preference. This is what I'm going to use to decide if I want to bring you my business. Everything else is an extra and should not get in the way of the basic information.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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Would anybody care to put forward an example of what he or she thinks is a good restaurant website?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If your restauraunt does take-away, for the love of bog SAY SO somewhere on your website! I've run across a couple locally when trying to find takeout - they have a menu posted but nowhere does it say whether they offer take-out. Both do actually offer takeout by the way.

Online ordering is awesome from a consumer standpoint and I really wish more restaurants would utilize it, but I can understand that it can be complicated and possibly expensive to set up.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry if this link is a repost, but I've been checking out a lot of restaurant websites lately around NYC and I'm amazed what a mess restaurant websites are in general, compared to other businesses.

How hard is it to have an address and phone number easy to find, not have sections "coming soon" for months, and realize that not a single person in the universe wants music to start playing when they just want to see a menu?

My friend sent me this link and I thought I'd share it on here:

http://neversaidaboutrestaurantwebsites.tumblr.com/

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