Better Restaurant Websites: 3 Dos, 3 Don’ts

For those of us who sit in front of a computer all day it can be hard to remember than much of the world does not. They stand in front of customers or pace around work sites. The computer is secondary to how they work.

Mobile is changing this. People who previously engaged tech briefly (if ever) at the end of the day are now consuming content and information continuously via their phone. We’ve blogged about this before. But while restaurants are learning to consume information via technology, creating engaging, helpful content is another story.

A study by Restaurant Science, a restaurant data provider, reports that only 5% of restaurants have a mobile-optimized website, and only 40% have their menu online.  TechCrunch has a good synopsis.  Get with it, people! Such a loss to not have quality restaurant marketing for such a vital channel.

A good restaurant website can be built in a day by following a few simple rules. Some quick Dos and Don’ts:

Dos

  • Contact info: It ain’t sexy but many site visitors just want to know where you are or ask a simple question - an address, map and phone number should be prominent. 
  • Menu: You should have a menu on your website and it should be up to date. If you have the holiday specials listed in February, you fail.  And no PDFs! Downloading a PDF is an iffy proposition. The menu should be regular text.
  • Content management: You should be able to update and change the content on your site easily. If it isn’t easy, you won’t do it.  And definitely make it readable on a phone.

Don’ts

  • Music. Many people search for restaurant info from their job. When your carefully chosen playlist launches automatically, they’ll get annoyed, close the browser window in half a second, and never come back. 
  • Flash: Flash was sexy in the 90s but is slow to load and unsupported by some technologies. Unsupported means visitors can’t see flash elements. It is like putting a big, expensive blank h*** in the middle of your site. Bad.
  • Text: Be to the point and stop. You wouldn’t camp out at a table and chat up a customer throughout their whole meal. You’d make quick, warm contact and leave them alone. Same online.

These Dos and Don’ts should simplify your restaurant website, making it easier, faster and less expensive to build and maintain. It is easy to do online restaurant marketing right. So do it right.

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Comment by MenuDrive on May 21, 2012 at 5:20pm

This are really good tips for restaurants, and website desingers, to consider.  If people are using mobile phones to view websites they are not going to have the same ability to see everything like they would on a computer.  Restaurants should keep it simple because that's all their customers really want.  I'm with MenuDrive [ www.menudrive.com ] and we do online ordering websites for restaurants.  What we see is that most of them want us to do it for them because they don't want to sit down and do it themselves.  This is understandable as they are busy people being in the restaurant industry.  In the end we try and keep it simple, easy to update, and mobile friendly so once they learn how to do it, they can do it fast and effectively.

Comment by David Bloom on May 16, 2012 at 7:46am

A great point- mobile and desktop are different. What content you provide and how you provide it needs to be tailored or at least carefully organized. 

Comment by Tina R Wells on May 16, 2012 at 7:42am

Excellent simple do's and dont's that every restaurant should follow!  We do free mobile sites for restaurants and one key thing we always try to tell our customers is that a good restaurant website is an exercise in restraint--especially mobile versions!  It is a challenge to get restaurants to understand this concept.  Many of them don't understand that a mobile user does not want to view an entire 300 + bottle wine list from their phones.

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