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Restaurant Websites


TAPrice
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What makes restaurants think that music and animated movies are cool on their web site? I've got my own music, thank you very much. Why not just add flashing text and pop-up windows and become truly unbearable?

Having just double checked 100 sites for a local food guide, I'm amazed how prevalent this is among higher end places. I surf around the web way more than I should, and I don't often encounter animated movies. I almost NEVER run into websites with music, except when I look up restaurants.

Any ideas on why this happens? Herd mentality? All restaurants use the same web developers? I'd be curious to hear from restaurant owners on why they added music to their sites.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Im glad that this has been brought up. As a chef and soon to be restauranteur, I love music and think that most chefs feel the same way. If you ask chefs what they would like to be other than chef, they would probably say musician. With that being said, I agree with you that restuarant websites pretty much suck. I am going to be building a site soon so I would love to have anyones input as to:

1)What they would like to see on a Restaurants website.

2)Really good web designers.

Neal J. Brown

chef, teacher and always a student

To respect food is to respect one's self.

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My guess is that restaurant owner misunderstand the purpose of a web site. They approach it with the mindset that they need to create an atmosphere reminiscent of the restaurant itself. For this reason you end up with music and animations that attempt to evoke the place.

As a customer, I want quick access to the hours, the phone number, and the menu with prices. I like reprints of full reviews and history on the building or establishment.

Hey, I even enjoy bells and whistles sometimes (ok, I never like music on web sites). A virtual tour of dining room? That could be cool. The problem with most restaurant website from a design standpoint is that they force the gimmicks down your throat.

My advice to a restaurant would be build a quick loading page with clear access to basic information. If you want some gimmicks, allow the user to explore these if they choose.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Im glad that this has been brought up.  As a chef and soon to be restauranteur, I love music and think that most chefs feel the same way.  If you ask chefs what they would like to be other than chef, they would probably say musician.  With that being said, I agree with you that restuarant websites pretty much suck.  I am going to be building a site soon so I would love to have anyones input as to:

1)What they would like to see on a Restaurants website.

2)Really good web designers.

Please don't stick music on it. I have my own music that I like to listen to when surfing. Not that yours is bad, but we might have different tastes. And it is irritating to have to wait for a site to open only to be blasted by the techno stuff they think is sooooo cool.

Now that that is off my chest, easy navigation, a few photos is okay if well done, the graphics that some insist on boring us with just to get to the first page, I always click the button that lets me skip that stuff. NO one looks at it except the designer. Menus, yes, where are you, yes, a link to a map is helpful, especially for those of us not from there.

The simpler the better. Look at some of the stuff that the successful on line retailers tend to have on their sites. Ease of navigation.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I'm a web developer and usability architect. My philsophy is "Just because you can doesn't mean you should." Many clients are blown away by stupid web tricks, and they do indeed forget the real purpose of most web sites -- conveying information. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to convince clients that they don't need Flash animation, cheesy "music," or flashing text to get their point across, and that in fact, they will turn away potential customers who find their sites unusable. Most professional sites are turning away from complex designs to simple, straightforward schemes. It's the amateurs who do "kewl."

"It is a fact that he once made a tray of spanakopita using Pam rather than melted butter. Still, though, at least he tries." -- David Sedaris
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No Flash, please! And do you really need a splash page? No. I want an attractive, professional, fast-loading site that makes it easy for me to find the phone number or directions when I'm running out the door for my reservations, but yet also gives me a good sense of the restaurant when I'm just browsing for info.

I was just on this restaurant site, and it has the simple yet attractive elements I like: http://www.aziza-sf.com

Or something like Manresa's site: http://www.manresarestaurant.com/, concept-wise.

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As Jinmyo might say (I think), web page music is the Devil's tinnitus.

A little Flash can be useful and good. I like Flash when looking at restaurant pics so I don't have to press anything to get to the next view. But as my friend says overuse of Flash is so 1999.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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My guess is that restaurant owner misunderstand the purpose of a web site. They approach it with the mindset that they need to create an atmosphere reminiscent of the restaurant itself. For this reason you end up with music and animations that attempt to evoke the place.

it certainly depends on a person but i think many restaurateurs trust the designer to do the job and can be easily talked into crazy stuff - the designer may be young, a bit enthusiastic about showing off different skills, think they can charge more for extra features, etc. often, restaurant owners will hire a kid/friend/non-professional b/c it's cheaper. or they won't know how to stand up to the "creative" vision. this is mostly true of individual operators or people who are investors with other sources of income.

there are tons of badly designed sites, usually b/c they are overdesigned in terms of graphics and elements, difficult to navigate, etc. i think we all agree that we want the basic info, menu, etc. with no flash or similarly annoying features/extras. when i worked at a restaurant a few years ago, i was put in charge of creating their website, which was built by the owner's son's friend - luckily he was pretty good and just starting out as a web designer (he's since turned it into a business). he had a sense of style of the place and was able to translate it into a website, not all designers can.

but there is no denying that restaurant owners can have very strong opinions on what they want and the designer is ultimately hired to do a job and if that's what the client wants, more often than not, the client will get it.

that said, i never have sound on when i websurf (unless i'm listening to something intentionally) b/c i find all sounds annoying -- i wasn't even AWARE that so many restaurant websites feature music. :laugh:

why don't more sites have an able/disable sound option on their homepage rather than sound automatically on?

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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Since no one is supporting music on sites, I think I gotta pipe up.

Music is a great addition when the user is in control. Having a music player that is is off when you get to the site, yet still available for you if you wish is a great balance. Having more than one loop of good music that suites the clientelle of the location can add something for those musically interested. Especially if both your web designer and customers are on the cutting edge of music. :cool:

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Please no music, and if you really feel the need to put music on the page, at least put a button on the page so the user can stop it.

Another thing that annoys me is that restaurant trying to scan their menu onto the page because it is a picture file, it takes quite a while to load. I also don't want the menu to lead to a pdf file which is even more annoying than large amount of graphic on a page.

The most important components of the site should be the address, contact info, and the menu. Please don't put any tricky and cutesy buttons on the page that will make it difficult to find those components.

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What makes restaurants think that music and animated movies are cool on their web site? I've got my own music, thank you very much. Why not just add flashing text and pop-up windows and become truly unbearable?

Having just double checked 100 sites for a local food guide, I'm amazed how prevalent this is among higher end places. I surf around the web way more than I should, and I don't often encounter animated movies. I almost NEVER run into websites with music, except when I look up restaurants.

Any ideas on why this happens? Herd mentality? All restaurants use the same web developers? I'd be curious to hear from restaurant owners on why they added music to their sites.

A thread about restaurant web sites started in August.

I reiterate: I believe Flash is nothing more pissing contest, and I think people that put music on web sites should have electrodes fastened to their....you get the picture.

The worst part about the music is that so much of it sounds like a soundtrack for soft porn. Er, um, how I imagine that music would sound. :rolleyes:

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hah! i've asked my self the same question over and over!  :biggrin:

i build restaurant blogs. see here and there for examples.

cheap...does the trick....no flash....no music.

andrew

The sites are nicely done, but the images sure could use optimization. They appear to be over 200K or so (some of them). (Just a little bit of pro advice. I'm on DSL, and they still take a few full seconds to load.)

Who's that pretty woman on the first site? Wow, she's gorgeous.

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I've designed a couple of restaurant web sites in what I now consider the early days, although they were not that long ago. Both are no longer being used for different reasons. To be honest, I wasn't overly concerned about how they looked and spent most of my time and energy trying to get as much information across from the owner to the browser whoever he might be. Information and getting to that information is what I've been intersted in when I use a restaurant site. I used to use them a lot. I use them less now than ever because they take longer to load and I can't find the information I want and when I find it, it's out of date. Some of the worst offenders are the creative Spanish nueva cocina restaurants where address, phone number and menus seem to be an afterthought.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Agree with some previous posters, all I want is an address, phone, seating times, and menu with prices.

Don't need reviews as they are only going to post the positive ones.

Make it easy to navigate the site.

When the site gets too complicated or takes too long to load, I go elsewhere.

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another professional web developer here, with a concentration in UI and usability.

stay far, far away from anything that puts itself between you and your customers. this includes music, fancy animations that someone has to sit through to get to the needed information, grandiose splash pages that do the same etc. stay away from tricks.

your first job is to get the information your customers (and, especially important, your potential customers).

<b>good UI (user interface) is essential.</b> pictures, font styles, layout will be part of usability, and should work hand-in-hand with it, never supercede it.

<b>pretty pictures and cool-looking design is not necessarily good design.</b> plenty of print designers/graphic artists jumped on the web bandwagon when the industry opened up. the vast majority of them had/have no experience or training in usability / UI, in designing something to perform a task or channel user behavior effectively. this results in a lot of sites that look professional, cool, elegant, what have you, but actually are terrible to use.

i strongly suggest you look for a person or a team that has someone with usability / UI, not just a designer who can do something that looks like a glossy magazine spread.

everything from a site to a form needs good UI. good UI/usability is frequently "invisible" or seems so common-sense and natural that you take it for granted. it actually is a special skillset. it's worth the extra time and effort to bring that skillset to your project.

cheers :)

hc

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It's not just American high-end restaurants. Take a look at any group of European wine wholesalers and you will find the same thing, expecially among the Italians. They are beautiful, they are well thought out, but mainly they are just annoying as hell.

Most of the time when people are on a rest. website, I believe that they are trying to do just a couple of things-location, hours of operation, menu, history, and cost. These things need to be covered well and also they need to be easy to locate and navigate.

Aside from those things, not much else is needed, I don't think.

Also, I am running music on my pc most of the time when I am at home or at work (Musicmatch, XM, KGSR, WWOZ) and extra sound just messes up whatever I am listening to. No music on the restaurant sites, if you please.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Do remember that people with sophisticated palates do not necessarily have sophisticated computers and/or broadband. A complex site with high-definition pictures and hi-fi music may come up quickly on the latest equipment, but prospective diners with ancient Macs and slow modems (there still are such people, and some of them eat at good restaurants) will not be kindly disposed towards you after they've waited forever to download info their rigs can't handle.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Make it really simple. Keep up to date menus (with prices hopefully) and some pictures (of the dining space and food). Have a clear contact section (address, phone, hours, etc).

Flash is useful to protect images and can be an easy way to upload frequently changed menus (the manager just puts a text file in a folder). But you can lose a lot of customers if its difficult to load. It should be accessible on a 56K line and also include a mobile version (for business people using blackberries and Pocket PCs). No music and flashy text. Keep it classy and in theme with the resto (try to use similar colour schemes etc). Test on older browsers and for 800X600 screens.

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just to say...one doesn't need flash to make menus easily updateable with a text file. overall, i'd advise staying away from flash. flash often traps customers in a technological box, and in most cases doesn't give them anything they need that isn't do-able another, more simple (and less costly) way.

cheers :)

hc

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going the blog route, i cut web costs for two restaurants by over 400%.

blogs are so sophisticated these days as to allow for a great number things, including :biggrin: flash.

as a frequent diner, web user, and service industry guy, i gotta say that simple is better. you do not gain entry into the pantheon of great restaurants by having some downtempo verdi remix playing to macromedia glitches when all i want is your phone number to make a reso.

keep it simple, bubba. :cool:

andrew

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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