Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Restaurants at the End of the Web Universe

I knew I wasn't the only one who wondered why restaurant websites are so uniformly terrible: They're all sound, pictures, Flash animations and no damned menus with prices, unless they're in pdf format. All too often, even the hours and location are hard to find.

Slate's Farhad Manjoo has a nice summary of the problems, plus he clued me in to this bit of genius from the Oatmeal.

Manjoo writes:

I did get a plausible-sounding explanation of the design process from Tom Bohan, who heads up Menupages, the fantastic site that lists menus of restaurants in several large cities. "Say you're a designer and you've got to demo a site you've spent two months creating," Bohan explains. "Your client is someone in their 50s who runs a restaurant but is not very in tune with technology. What's going to impress them more: Something with music and moving images, something that looks very fancy to someone who doesn't know about optimizing the Web for consumer use, or if you show them a bare-bones site that just lists all the information? I bet it would be the former—they would think it's great and money well spent."
Like the Oatmeal says, what we want from a restaurant website:
  • Menu (ideally as text on the page, but if it's a pdf, it shouldn't be too big to download on 3G, and the fonts should be readable!)
  • Specials and happy hour info
  • Address with a link to a Google map
  • Online reservation system that actually works
  • Hours of operation, parking and contact info
How hard is that, really?


Peter Hoh said...

Manjoo's essay has been highlighted at most of my favorite blogs. It's not that it's profound, but it taps into a widespread frustration.

Peter Hoh said...

It reminded me of this, which has a couple of updates here and here.