I’ve been looking a lot of restaurant websites recently, for a variety of reasons, and wondered how it is they all came together. That is, I’m no stranger to the fancy HTML/XML web languages, rather the way in which they are designed. In the class that I completed this summer session (Internet/Direct Marketing), the books that we covered were consistent in what they said about websites and landing pages (where someone comes to when searching for your website and clicking on a link “landing” on a page). Define who you are, what you do, clear call to action, easy navigation, search bar, etc. Restaurant websites seemed to be a bit slicker with content yet tricky to navigate. I ran across this article from Slate.com* about Restaurant Websites being horrifically bad. In the article, Farhad Manjoo finds that “restauranteurs” have not made the website for ease of use, but rather to create an experience for the user. While at the brick and mortar site, the mood is predetermined and set by the owner, the translation online is not so controllable. Generic music plays automatically and flash animations create long loading times even for simple menu options or when to find hours of operation. And even when information is found, it is often incomplete or not painting a proper picture. Thus is the problem with selling particular services on the internet.
*Slate seems to be a wealth of mini articles on a variety of topics. I got through to the site from Skimthat.com which takes tech and opinion stories and boils it down to “what you need to know” for quick reading. They link to the full story if you want to get the full picture. Click around, I find some good stuff there.
It is not all bad, though. Some restaurants are being very consumer friendly, hosting reviews, making pages easier to read on mobile devices. The article even mentions a website that uses the GPS location system on mobile phones to show where the closest branch of that restaurant is to the customer. How did they figure out these good websites? Simple. Ask your customers what they want.
Here are a couple of examples of the websites I was talking about.