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When will restaurants understand that their websites suck?


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I am so tired of opening a restaurant's website and having stupid music blare out while an involved webpage downloads for 30 seconds. Its particularly annoying if I'm at work.

I am tired of having to open an adobe or word file just to see the frigging menu. I want to click on "dinner menu" and have it pop up like any normal website.

I am tired of restaurant sites that aren't mobile-friendly. At least half of my web time is on an android phone, even more when I'm traveling, and most restaurant websites are inaccessible.

Why do restaurants have these crappy webpages?

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I think it's two reasons: 1) because restaurants don't use restaurant websites (which is why so many menus are outdated pdfs), and 2) because their marketing person/instinct or web designer told them that they need to start marketing the restaurant as soon as someone lands on the page. Which means if you're a trendy place, you put trendy music and flashy graphics, and if you're a tapas place, you put Spanish guitar music and a slideshow of tapas, etc.

Every restaurant's site should have the hours and address/phone on the homepage, along with clear links to how to make a reservation and a link to a reasonably up-to-date menu with price (once a quarter is fine). If they want to put a 3D movie of their food somewhere, fine, as long as I can easily get the info that's actually useful.

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It's becoming a problem across all industries. People want fancy flash based websites that look really impressive but often require a virtual Amerigo Vespucci to navigate. This is also why so few support mobile users (despite the fact that restaurant websites get a ton of mobile traffic).

It's not really the restaurant's fault. They are being convinced by webdesigners that flash is the only way to go. Restaurant owners generally know little of web design and so they believe the experts. In my experience, a lot of web designers care more about aesthetics than functionality.

ETA: I'd rather go to a geocities quality website and get all the info I need in a clear format than I would see a flashy (pardon the pun) bunch of food pics shooting around a website that doesn't even bother to tell me where the food is located.

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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Working with a web site designer is like ordering dinner at the Palm. Everything is a la carte. The more clients order, the more they pay, and the more web designers make off websites. Keeping it simple is not in the web designer's interest anymore than the Palm wants a restaurant full of diners who don't order sides.

Nor does keeping it simple nurture the restaurant owner's ego. Sites have to be as fancy as the competition. Somewhere there is restaurant web site zero - the first restaurant website to incorporate flash and music; to display no useful information on the main page; to hide the hours, address and phone number on the directions or contacts page; to divide the sections of the menu into separate pdf files; to replace obvious links to other pages with cute meaningless symbols.

Restaurant web site zero had pretty pictures. The flash animation dazzled and the music was kickin'. The bar was set and every other restaurant owner wants the same or better.

A while back I had a short correspondence with one of Philadelphia's top restaurant web design firms. They assured me that they understood my needs from a restaurant site far better than I ever could.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Poorly designed websites abound, whether complex or simple, but the choice to use music always amazes me. Don't many of us surf while others are working near by? When the music comes on I exit really fast, way before I ever get to see the menu. Surely more customers are lost that way than not. At least give us a chance to reject the menu.

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For all the hype about owners who tweet and use FaceBook, the fact is there are a large number who are clueless about computers and the Internet. I have worked for owners who have never owned a home computer and can barely use Word. Trying to explain why we might want to listed in Google's local business database was a huge challenge. Trying to explain why the business' website sucked was impossible; they honestly thought the fact of having one took care of the situation completely and permanently. Of course it didn't help that the web designer was always gushing about how fabulous the page was, she was a professional and all the customers who complained about it simply didn't understand the industry.

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I will take websites that suck anytime over none at all.

Since we moved to Australia, it's really been frustrating that many restaurants don't have websites. Forget menus, it's a pain when you can't even find the opening hours or current address and number.

And yes, many of the restaurant websites (US and Australia) do suck.

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Sometimes, but the sound on my notebook is turned off or disabled, so it's not a problem. I don't know if you can shut off the sound on iphones, android phones, etc. If I want to listen to something/turn the sound back on, I plug in headphones or earbuds.

Given how many restaurants play muzak (at increasingly loud volumes, it sometimes seems), it's not much of a surprise to find that they feel ok about subjecting people to the same before they even get to the restaurant.

If the site allows it, I now send an e-mail to wherever I'm thinking about going, ask about the restaurant's noise level, although I've gotten some vague responses. My criteria (that I state in the e-mail) is that X number of people will be dining and we'd like to be able to hear each other's conversation w/out straining or raising our voices, and all of us have normal hearing, as far as we know.

And some websites are as described, but I've had reasonably good luck w/the sites for several restaurants in Portland, OR, and in the Corvallis/Albany area.

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One little thing that bugs me is often I'll stumble across a restaurant web site but I will have no idea where the restaurant is located...meaning what state the restaurant is located in. Even the maps they provide will show just a microcosm of a city map with not enough detail to let you know what city it is. Or they'll list their phone number but no area code. :blink:

 

“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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My work's website is not very good, but it sounds like it is better than most out there. Location/contact details/opening hours on the front page. Menus available via PDF or HTML, tho' both are horribly out of date (which is funny considering the menu has barely changed in the last year). No music, but the site looks tiny on any modern computer display, and obese on any mobile display (pages won't scroll, navigation buttons are too small).

My consolation is the website was apparently made for free, and I inherited it. I want it 'fixed', but there are more pressing things that need fixing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Welcome to my next blog post. I wish restauranteurs would keep in mind that their website is not a vanity project. People are coming to it for information. Where are you, do I want to eat your food, what is the price range and what is the atmosphere like?

Things you have to have on your restaurant's front page:

Most important!

Your full address and maybe a google map

Your phone number and email

Your hours of operation and when you stop serving delivery if you do deliver

Secondary

Links to the menu and NOT PDF!!!! That is annoying. We just want to know what's on the menu. PDFs slow us down. I want to LOOK at what you serve, not download it.

Link to photos. We like to see what your place looks like and what the food looks like.

Press is always nice and quoting other online reviews from blogger or yelpers you like.

An About Page for the owners and chef is always good

What we do not want!

Do not. I repeat do not, have music play automatically. Anyone in an office who is thinking of eating at your place will hate you.

Flash opening page. I don't care if it is cool as shit. NO!

Let me repeat no to PDF menus. I don't want to download your menu.

No dancing gifs. Not cute.

Old menus from last year.

And finally, choose 2 fonts until you hire a real designer. That's it, just 2 and no Comic Sans. It's more professional.

Feel free to add to this list. Or link to really great or really terrible examples. Really it's like designing a restaurant, don't you want to give the user the best experience possible and have choices make sense?

Grace

Edited by FoodMuse (log)

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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What we do not want!

!

Let me repeat no to PDF menus. I don't want to download your menu.

Grace

I agree with a lot of what you said but I do want PDF menus. I often download a bunch of menus and email them to my wife in one bundle so she can help pick our destination.

I agree that it would be nice to have both but if given the choice for just one, I'd pick PDF.

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I agree that it would be nice to have both but if given the choice for just one, I'd pick PDF.

I think you're probably alone on PDF. I HATE having to open a PDF when simple text will do just fine.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Welcome to my next blog post. I wish restauranteurs would keep in mind that their website is not a vanity project. People are coming to it for information. Where are you, do I want to eat your food, what is the price range and what is the atmosphere like?

Things you have to have on your restaurant's front page:

Most important!

Your full address and maybe a google map

Your phone number and email

Your hours of operation and when you stop serving delivery if you do deliver

Secondary

Links to the menu and NOT PDF!!!! That is annoying. We just want to know what's on the menu. PDFs slow us down. I want to LOOK at what you serve, not download it.

Link to photos. We like to see what your place looks like and what the food looks like.

Press is always nice and quoting other online reviews from blogger or yelpers you like.

An About Page for the owners and chef is always good

What we do not want!

Do not. I repeat do not, have music play automatically. Anyone in an office who is thinking of eating at your place will hate you.

Flash opening page. I don't care if it is cool as shit. NO!

Let me repeat no to PDF menus. I don't want to download your menu.

No dancing gifs. Not cute.

Old menus from last year.

And finally, choose 2 fonts until you hire a real designer. That's it, just 2 and no Comic Sans. It's more professional.

Feel free to add to this list. Or link to really great or really terrible examples. Really it's like designing a restaurant, don't you want to give the user the best experience possible and have choices make sense?

Grace

Exactly right!

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You forgot a biggie ...

Agreed that address / phone / hours of operation should be on the front page. However, DO NOT put them in a Flash animation. I have now lost the ability to highlight and copy it and paste it into Google/Yahoo Maps, Google Address book (which syncs to my Android phone), etc. The others mentioned already are definitely peeves, but this one is downright irritating.

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I agree that some of these restaurants doesn't really put too much effort on making their website better or good looking because I think some of their owners just doesn't care about the market they can get online. Also they really need to consider getting a mobile-friendly website because of the technology today.

And yes, music on websites sucks big time. It's really annoying.

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