Why are restaurant websites so bad?
Alero Restaurant: Great burritos, fine location on U Street NW, snazzy decor.
Want to know when it's open? That's going to require you to listen to some tunes. As you open alerorestaurant.com, some languid south-of-the-border music announces itself with a drumroll. Photos float up and down in the lower third of the screen. It's a show you never asked for.
Bad restaurant websites: The music that plays automatically, the use of Flash, the difficult-to-find menus, the PDF menus, the hard-to-read fonts, the horrible colors, the missing information, the outdated information.
There’s even a Tumblr devoted to recording gripes about them.
“I love the sexy background music. That way people think I’m on a porn site, when little do they know I’m checking out tapas.”
“I enjoy seeing what the specials were in 2009.”
“I don’t want the restaurant’s title to appear right away. I want to watch it slowly write itself out … in cursive.”
“Well of course hours will be located on the Contact Us page. I’d be foolish to look anywhere else!”
I raised the question about what makes restaurant sites bad recently on Quora, a social question and answer site, and got some good feedback. But what makes a restaurant website good?
The case for simplicity
Yelp gets it right. All the information a potential diner needs is at the top of the page. Restaurant websites should be clean and simple, says Dan Simon, owner of Founding Farmers in Foggy Bottom and Farmers & Fishers in Georgetown. “People get all fancy, and they think it’s a fashion show.”
Founding Farmers’ website could benefit from the owner’s own advice.
The site is slow and not the easiest to navigate. Links are spread across the page with little apparent thought to how a visitor might actually use them. Several of them are duplicative. Most of the time you’re on the site, you’re reading information that’s contained in a small square located in the center of the page.
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