This post is about restaurants. Or, more specifically, how terrible restaurant websites are.
This isn’t rocket science. We all pretty much had basic HTML figured out by 1998 or so, and building basic static websites hasn’t changed a ton since then. You don’t need to be fancy, I don’t want Flash intros or ridiculous, useless landing pages. There’s really only four things I need from a restaurant website. Here they are:
Hours of operation
The other night, I wanted to go to this wing place I’d heard about. It was about 6 PM and I wasn’t particularly hungry yet, but I anticipated I’d be hungry in a few hours. So naturally I went to their website to see how late they’d be open. I looked and looked and looked and could not find their hours listed anywhere on their site. I challenged a few friends to find out how late this place was open, and one of them eventually tracked the info down–on Google+. Seriously! The info wasn’t even on their Facebook page–I know, because I actually looked. The only place on the internet that could tell me how late this place stayed open was Google+. At least it’s good for something, I guess.
It’s appalling how many restaurant websites fail at this most basic level. If I don’t know when you’re open, I can’t very well eat at your restaurant. It’s simple, essentially unchanging information that would literally take you about four seconds to code in HTML and stick it somewhere on your front page. There’s absolutely no excuse not to have this info front and center on your damn website!
You’d think this would be obvious. And to be fair, most restaurant websites do include a menu somewhere. But it’s usually just a PDF scan of their actual physical menu. Please, restaurateurs, STOP doing this! PDF files are huge and annoying and absolutely ill-suited for this purpose. Hire a friggin’ high school kid to do an actual HTML version of your menu! This shouldn’t be too hard and you can probably get one to do it for free if you promise to give him/her a reference. If you’re worried about all that hassle of having to get someone to change the website every time you add or remove an item from your menu… don’t be. It will take way less time than printing out new physical menus. There’s absolutely no excuse for not having an up-to-date, fully HTML menu on your website. None.
If I’m going to come eat at your restaurant, I have to know where it is. A simple address is all you need. If you like, include a map too. Google maps makes this stupid easy, so again, hire a high school kid to figure this out for you. You don’t need directions like this: “Take exit 225 and turn left, then right on Chambers and we’re a half mile ahead on your right!” Seriously, nobody gives directions that way anymore. Just give me the address.
This really only applies to restaurants that offer delivery. I don’t care about ordering online if I’m going to your restaurant to sit down and eat. But if you’re bringing the food to me, you will have about a 10,000% better chance of getting my business if you have online ordering. And seriously, it’s 2013. You should have this by now. I’m sure there’s people out there offering turnkey solutions for this, so go buy one and hook it into your website.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking “I don’t understand technology and don’t want to hire that high school kid you keep talking about to do any of this crap. I’ll just put my phone number on the website, and people can just call if they need to know when we’re open or what food we have!”
Fuck you. Seriously, fuck you hard. And fuck your stupid goddamn phone number, too. Yes, I’m sure there are people who only go to your website to find your phone number so they can call you. I know people like that, so I know they exist. I’m not like that. And believe it or not, I’m not that unusual. When I see a business website that has no useful information except for a prominently displayed phone number and an exhortation to “call us for information!” I get super, super irritated. You might as well not have a website if all you’re going to put on it is your phone number.
If the choice is between calling you to find out when you’re open or just not going to your restaurant, I will choose to not go your restaurant. Every. Time. I will not call you for any reason. The internet exists so I don’t have to call businesses anymore! If I can’t figure out when you’re open, I won’t call to find out, you’ll just lose my business. If I can’t figure out what you sell or what your prices are, I won’t call to find out, you’ll just lose my business. If I can’t figure out where you are… well, you get the picture, right? And delivery places? I decided a few years ago that I’m done with calling you, too. So if you don’t have online ordering, well, you don’t get my business either.
There you go. Four things you can do to make your restaurant website not suck. Get to it!