Restaurant websites have been a hot topic online lately, but not in a good way. The recurring theme centers around the question, as first voiced in an essay at the online Slate magazine, “Why do restaurant websites suck?” Harsh, but we’re afraid to admit, true in a lot cases. Don’t be fodder for some blogger’s next post. Here’s help.
SIN #1: | Flash overload.
Flash is, well, flashy. It’s a pretty bauble that can bring motion and glitter to a site, but it has a dark side. Apple’s insanely popular iPhones and iPads aren’t compatible with it. It can take time to load. It can be distracting if it’s not impeccably designed.
FIX IT: If you must have Flash, at least keep it down. Have non-Flash alternatives for navigation. If you just can’t kick the habit, have your web designer whip up a mobile-friendly version of the site for your many customers with iPhones and iPads.
SIN #2: | Missing the basics.
There are certain features your customers automatically look for. This includes contact information, location, business hours and menus. If these are missing, out-of-date or hidden away, you’re telling your customers that you can’t be bothered to meet their basic needs.
FIX IT: Visit your site with a customer’s eyes. Is contact and reservation information right up front? Are your hours obvious? Got a map? Commit to uploading updated menus and specials. Consider sharing your pricing. This shouldn’t be a great secret.
SIN #3: | Unappetizing photos.
Your site is a chance to showcase your food and atmosphere. Bleary photos of guests and pictures of your food in bad lighting aren’t doing you any favors.
FIX IT: If your pocket camera snapshots aren’t getting the job done, bring in a professional who can put your food forward in its best light.
SIN #4: | Clutter.
Don’t overwhelm visitors with scads of photos, blaring colors, jiggling images and heaping helpings of navigation options. If your eyeballs hurt when your home page loads, it’s time for a redesign.
FIX IT: Think clean and simple. This doesn’t have to equate to boring. Follow through with your branding and image in your website design. Get user feedback and act on suggestions for improvement.
BONUS SIN: | Automatic music.
Please, make it stop. Nobody likes making a desperate scramble for the volume control button. Music or videos that launch automatically when a visitor lands on your web page are a major web design faux pas.