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What would a good restaurant site be like?
March 2, 2011 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Assuming that restaurants need them, what would make a good web site for a restaurant?

Restaurant web sites have lot of problems. What would a good restaurant site be like?
posted by kirkaracha to Computers & Internet (67 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
(My brother's thinking of opening a web site, which I'd probably develop for him.)
posted by kirkaracha at 12:51 PM on March 2, 2011


No flash, no .pdf menus, address and phone number not buried four screens in.
posted by fixedgear at 12:52 PM on March 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


It would be great if it's accessible for mobile devices as well (at least address/phone number)
posted by The Toad at 12:55 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hours, address (and link to google map)/phone number, and menus all easily accessible with minimal clicks and no buried links. Seconding no pdfs or flash.

Specials (if they exist) and coupons/deals (if they exist) actually updated.
posted by brainmouse at 12:55 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


We wouldn't call a restaurant to ask about its cherished history and the owner's pet llama, we call to get information. That's what the website is for. So like fixedgear said, address and phone number displayed prominently, and--I can't stress this enough--hours of operation! It boggles my mind how few sites have them.

A map would be nice. If you're going to have a menu, do it as simplistically as possible. Definitely no PDF. If you're not going to have a menu, put up a few pictures of the type of food you serve to give us an idea of what we're in for. Minimalism is your best bet.
posted by Phire at 12:56 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


via theoatmeal
posted by k8t at 12:56 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hours on the front page, with the phone number and address. I agree with Phire (and the Oatmeal)--customers just want to see information they can use in the most user friendly format. No downloads, no flash, no pdfs, no screen hogging bullshit about the visionary cuisine etc.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:58 PM on March 2, 2011


-up to date, easy to find hours, phone number, and address. also parking info.
-current menu that includes prices
-online reservation system or instructions for making reservations if applicable
-a photo of the dining area which might give someone an idea of how large/crowded/casual or formal it is likely to be.
posted by unsub at 12:59 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Mobile-phone-friendly. Address, phone number, and hours of service clearly visible and copy/paste-able. I'm not even sold on including a menu, unless it is a pizza place or bbq joint where the menu never changes -- it's been my experience that online menus for most restaurants simply never get updated, or get updated so sporadically that they're useless or even deceptive. "Why do these guys have fresh soft-shell crab in March?"

Simple, simple, simple, simple. No one wants to read about the owner's commitment to fresh produce. No one wants to hear about the charming historic district your establishment is nestled within. No one gives a damn that you sponsor a Little League team. We just want to know where you are, when you're open, how to find you, whether we need to dress up, and if you allow smoking on the patio. That's it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:01 PM on March 2, 2011


The address, hours and phone number in huge copy & paste-able letters on the first screen. A reservations here link might be useful on the first page. And keep the address, hours, and phone number on every page, in copy & paste-able letters, not some image.

Everything else: menus, specials, reviews, events, bios--Available through obvious but not dominant links on the front page. Not in frames, so I can send a link to the special event page if necessary.

Seriously, my ideal restaurant webpage is pretty much the Name, Address, Phone number, Hours in the center of the screen with the words: Reservations, Menu, Everything Else in small print below it--where each of those words is a link. I can almost guarantee I would never once ever click the "everything else" link.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not restaurant specific per se, but it drives me nuts when bar/restaurants don't list a kitchen closing time. I hate to arrive somewhere for a late dinner only to find their kitchen closed. If this could apply to your brother's place, please include it!
posted by youngergirl44 at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I visit a restaurant website it's for a few reasons:

1) I want to make a reservation - the humber for this should be front and centre
2) I want to find out where it is - the map should be front and centre, or easily found 1 click away
3) I want to view the menu - this should be in web format and easily found no more than 1 click away

I want to view this on my phone nearly as much (or more - especially for 1 and 2) as I want to view it on my desktop.

99% of the time I don't care about the other stuff - I assume you're not going to have a bad review on your own site, so I won't bother reading those. I don't much care about the chef's bio. You can have this information, but it shouldn't be on the front page.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2011


address, hours, phone number that you can copy paste
menus that your don't have to download - daily specials would be nice, too
posted by sabh at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2011


My own take:
- Include address, phone number and hours prominently on the home page, if not every page.
- DO NOT USE FLASH. Not phone-friendly, and generally useless.
- DO NOT PLAY MUSIC. You think it creates "ambiance." It just bugs people.
- Quit with the PDFs. It's so easy to update a website now, even if you have no idea how to code. PDFs are a pain in the ass, especially if the customer is on a mobile device.
posted by me3dia at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2011


Address, phone number, reservations link, hours at the top, prominently viewable, and easy to copy/paste. Links to menu, special events, etc. below. No pdf menus. Basically, this, except that the menus are in pdf format. If they were just links to another page with the menu on it, it would be pretty much perfect, in my opinion.
posted by bedhead at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2011


Please do have a menu. People with food sensitivities want to know! You don't have to necessarily cater to those sensitivities, but I don't go to restaurants without knowing if I can eat something there.
posted by aabbbiee at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I cannot second menu WITH PRICES enough. WITH FREAKING PRICES. Also, what everyone else said.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


This (Ottawa's "Ahora") -- pix of the place and of the food, current non-PDF menu with prices, easy to navigate, lots of stuff I might want to look at (reviews, map, hours) and nothing I don't want to see.
posted by kmennie at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2011


I'm alright with a PDF menu as long as it isn't a 2GB print-ready version slapped up there. A file size that is reasonable for mobile downloading and viewing beats no menu or an abbreviated menu done for the sake of saving time.

So many restaurants have such shitty websites that I don't even bother opening them on my phone anymore and will go straight to Yelp for the number/address/etc.
posted by birdherder at 1:08 PM on March 2, 2011


With regard to those folks saying to only include specials/menus if they will be updated regularly...
I guarantee that one of the teenage kids working as a waiter/dishwasher at the restaurant would find it a very simple task to make those updates, and he/she would be delighted to have this task for 1/4 hour of their shift time everyday.
posted by CathyG at 1:08 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Menu with prices and descriptions. I want to know what veggies are in the stir-fry or if my sandwich comes with a side, especially if you offer takeout or delivery.

If the restaurant offers delivery, a map of the delivery boundaries helps.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2011


On the front page: address, phone number, opening hours, link to the appropriate map page (google maps, usually) -- don't link to an image of the local area in case I need driving directions. If you have online reservations etc, you can link to those pages.

A link to: your menu, all on one page. Split up breakfast/lunch/dinner/desserts/Sunday brunch/drinks each on their own page, but do not split up more than that, please. Specials can be shown as a "here is the kind of special we have", I do not expect to see the daily specials online.

A photo of the space somewhere is nice, though not necessary.

A link to the pages of all the community stuff and the owner's giraffe is also fine, and sometimes I am curious enough to read those.

No flash, music, or pdf.
posted by jeather at 1:15 PM on March 2, 2011


NO FLASH. Seriously, I do not want to see a slideshow of photos, an animated intro, or any of that. I especially don't want to see all information provided via flash interface so as to minimize the amount of any useful info one can access. Just give me some good old HTML so that I can copy/paste, print, see it on my iPhone, etc.

NO MUSIC. 1996 called, it wants its useless bells and whistles back. Your restaurant doesn't have its own AOL keyword, and it doesn't need a MIDI file soundtrack, either.

The most important pieces of information that should be provided in the most easily-digested form are the address/location info, directions (a google/mapquest map is fine), and the menu. Nine out of ten times that I go to a restaurant's website, I want to know where it is, how to get there, and what kind of food you serve. If you have a private room, cater, or otherwise frequently facilitate large groups, information about that (ideally including prices) is also good to have. Photos, reviews, awards won, chef's bio, etc are gravy.

If you have a lot of specials, seasonal menus, or you host public events, make sure to provide all that info in an easy to access AND TIMELY manner. I don't want to know what your Valentine's day menu was (it's March now). I don't want to have to pause a slideshow of your lunch specials to take screenshots which I then have to bring into Adobe CS4 to format into something I can pass around the office for lunch orders.

If you offer delivery or off-site catering, nicely formatted PDF's of your menu are also great if and only if they are NOT the only way to view your menu offerings and are formatted in a way that makes it easy to slip the printed menu into a folder or menu binder. In other words, not on legal sized paper or designed to fold into origami. One letter sized sheet with all the food you deliver/cater on it, including relevant information like phone numbers and delivery areas.

Sorry, one of my typical job duties is to feed people (order food, organize parties, make reservations). I have opinions on this.
posted by Sara C. at 1:16 PM on March 2, 2011


A mobile site's page that consists of exactly four things: Restaurant name & hours, Our Menu, Our Location(s), Phone (clickable).

Locations goes either directly to Google Maps, or if there's more than one, a list of links with short descriptions (Mumble Ave, This Neighborhood near This Landmark) that in turn goes to Google Maps. Our Menu looks like the Wikipedia mobile page - Specials, Drinks, Appetizers, etc, click here to expand. All on one page, terse descriptions, prices included.

It's what you don't add that's important here, much more than what you do.
posted by mhoye at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2011


The backend of the website has to be stupid-easy to update (new menu, new hours, anything that might regularly change).
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just today in the Boston Globe, there was an article entitled When Bad Websites Happen to Good Restaurants, explaining why current ones are so bad. The suggestions for improvements are pretty much what everyone is saying here.
posted by Melismata at 1:20 PM on March 2, 2011


Oh, and if it's going to be the sort of restaurant that relies heavily on reservations, not only should you put information about that (policies, instructions, contact info) front and center, you should also opt to integrate OpenTable into your site design (in a clear and user-friendly manner, of course).
posted by Sara C. at 1:21 PM on March 2, 2011


Adding to the mobile-friendly suggestions: if you're not doing a mobile-specific site (that detects mobile browsers and redirects automatically), then for heaven's sake test out your navigation on more than one mobile device and make sure that both the joystick or button-type devices can get to links and that fat-fingered iOS users can touch a link without having to zoom in so far it's completely pixelated.
posted by telophase at 1:35 PM on March 2, 2011


Lots of good suggestions above. I'll add this: for some reason those rare restaurant web sites that include food prices often leave out the drink prices, which would be helpful if they were included.

The burger place I visit most often lets me order for takeout online via NetWaiter's easy-to-use service. This is killer—I can start my order on my smartphone as I get on the bus, and it will be ready just as I get to the restaurant. There's also some third-party web site where you can order stuff for delivery.
posted by grouse at 1:36 PM on March 2, 2011


It would be nice to have a separate listing of vegetarian/vegan/other dietary options; a separate list of friendly menu items for each restriction, but maybe that's more trouble than he wants to go to.

Great directions not just copied or linked from Google or MapQuest but logically, clearly written, maybe with a line-drawn map, including landmarks and parking options.
posted by amtho at 1:47 PM on March 2, 2011


Main page: Hours, address, phone number, parking info/public transit info. One-click link to map. Menu with prices.

A super bonus would be if the menu includes possible allergy notations (ie "contains nuts" or "contains eggs") - even if it's not comprehensive, it tells the customer that this is a restaurant where they will make an attempt to not poison them!

And seconding everyone else: no flash, no pdfs, no music.
posted by marginaliana at 1:50 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooh! I know! I know! Pick me!

The answer is Things Nobody Has Ever Said About a Restaurant Website.
posted by gauche at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I were setting up this kind of website, I'd do it through something like WordPress so that it's extremely easy to update, so it would be more likely to be updated often.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2011


Seconding unsub's comment as a concise description as you can get.

That oatmeal link is strange. Who cares about Groupon. He's so myopic he forgets to list phone number too. You want to make this site friendly for all your customers not just the mobile web 3.0 users.
posted by vacapinta at 2:00 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Make it readable. No black background, no stupid contrast issues, no words going over pictures, etc. Pretend that my 90 year old grandmother is going to the site and needs to know three things:

1) Contact info: Phone number and address.
2) Menu including descriptions and prices
3) Hours of Operation

Make those things easy to find and readable. MAKE THEM READABLE. Black type on white or beige may not be "exciting" but it sure does the job.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:00 PM on March 2, 2011


No major annoyances: No flash. No "intro." No music. (If I'm already playing music or a podcast on my computer and then I start hearing a second music track out of nowhere, guess what I'm going to do? Frantically look for the webpage that's playing the unwanted music and close that browser window ASAP.) Not incompatible with any currently popular browser or computer.

Complete menus: lunch, dinner, brunch, drinks, whatever. Any restrictions should be noted, e.g. "Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m."

All "basic" information displayed prominently on the homepage, so you see it as soon as you go to the website with no clicking (and preferably no scrolling). "Basic" information includes the following: the name of the restaurant, the type of restaurant ("Spanish tapas," "soul food," etc.), the location, contact info (phone, email), and the hours.

Some kind of "About us" that sells me on your restaurant. Are you just one more Italian restaurant for the sake of meeting the demand for Italian food in my city, or do you have any interesting angle that sets you apart from the other Italian restaurants?

Any important links should be clear and conspicuous. Even if you disregard everyone's advice and put the hours and location on separate pages that are linked from the homepage, at least make those links blatantly say "HOURS" and "LOCATION." This isn't an Easter egg hunt; your goal is to make it extremely easy for me to go to your place!

Try out the website on different browsers and computers. Show it to your friends and ask what they think.

Links to Twitter, Facebook, etc., if the restaurant has them.

All of the above should be very easy and cheap to accomplish. If you have some more time and money:

- Appropriately ambient graphics and web design. A website can have a look and feel that's downscale or upscale, hip or traditional, to reflect the character of the restaurant.

- Photos that give a feel for what the exterior, interior, and food actually look like.

- Daily updates showing the specials.
posted by John Cohen at 2:13 PM on March 2, 2011


This may be a bit cumbersome if the menu changes regularly but as someone working to lose weight I REALLY appreciate food sites (products, cafes, restaurants, whatever) that publish nutritional information (calories, sodium, fat, the whole shebang). It doesn't have to be a top level link flashing in red with giant arrows pointing it out but somewhere on the site and not buried under a gazillion menu levels.
posted by moxiequz at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2011


Nthing no Flash, no PDFs, no music. I pretty much go to restaurant sites to figure out (in this order):

When are they open?
What's on the menu?
What's the address?
Do they deliver to me, and can I order online?

Add phone numbers and reservation info, and I'd say that's all you need. If there's frequently updated specials, maybe put a Twitter feed in there, but that's it.
posted by tautological at 2:15 PM on March 2, 2011


Agree with what everyone else has said. A few things not mentioned.

- Try to make sure that if you're searching Google for the restaurant, you find the restaurant at some point early on. [i.e. make sure you know how to do page titles effectively, keywords, etc]
- Assuming the restaurant is on Yelp, make an effort to make sure that the information there is accurate. If I go to your restaurant website and I can't find what I'm looking for in a few clicks, I'll head to Yelp. If I still can't find it there, I'll either call you or go someplace with better/clearer information.

Questions I usually have that will take me to a website

- is it open now?
- how fancy do I need to dress?
- how much am I likely to have to spend?
- do I need reservations?
- how do I get there by car? [would prefer clickable Google map or street address, not some written directions involving roads I don't know if I'm not local]
- how do I get there by public transportation?
- if I don't eat something, how tough will it be to eat there [i.e. seafood, or if my friend is a vegetarian]?
- what does the place look like [if I am wandering around outside looking for it, a storefront view can be good to have]

Things I personally care less about

- what's on the menu TONIGHT [approximate menus are fine, out of date "here are our summer selections" this month will make me eat elsewhere]
- PDF menus [if the website is current I am happy not to print anything]
- specials that are expensive or for special events that are months off
- the chef
- the wine list [I am aware other people care about this sort of thing]
posted by jessamyn at 2:25 PM on March 2, 2011


Seth Godin's recommendation.
posted by brainwane at 2:26 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


A clickable link to the location in google maps -not just a jpeg. Sometimes I need to zoom out or scroll to calculate the nearest subway stop.
posted by yeti at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most important thing is no flash! One page with directions, address, phone number. Up to date PDF menu.
posted by tremspeed at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2011


Not sure why the PDF hate- displays fine on iPhone, easily printable at home, saves restaurant owner time/money in web development.
posted by tremspeed at 2:30 PM on March 2, 2011


Agree with everything above, so here's a nitpick. While someone already mentioned photos of the dining area, I have to elaborate on this point:

Make sure the CHAIRS are clearly visible.

I like to hook my bag on my chair. If the backs of your chairs are ovate and there is no way I can hook anything on there, I want to know, and plan accordingly (because I am not putting my bag on the floor).

I imagine some people with more serious considerations (medical, etc.) might have certain seating preferences as well.
posted by (alice) at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2011


TEXT. Not just not PDF's, but actual text. Not images that say "MENU" and "DIRECTIONS" and "HOURS." If you must have images, use alt text. But please use text. People with poor vision like to eat, too.

And please, on top of no flash, don't make things jump around the page. Images that bounce or change on mouseover are not quite as horrible as flash, but they're awful and distracting.
posted by galadriel at 3:00 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, I think much of the advice in the Globe article is BS--along with most of the excuses--and restaurant-owners would be better off reading this thread. And as for "assuming that restaurants need them," the answer is YES. Do not assume that a Yelp, Foursquare, or Google results page is sufficient. Aside from the chance of a bad rap showing up there unfairly, I don't trust the info about hours and so on on those sites. Followers of the local Twitter account that I run have two complaints about local restaurants when it comes to the internet: #2 is terrible websites, but #1 is no website at all. Many of them will go to restaurants with bad sites or bare-bones free sites (I'd rather look at that than a Flash monstrosity!) over restaurants with no reliable information online.
posted by wintersweet at 3:12 PM on March 2, 2011


An indication of the alcohol situation (BYOB, wine and beer, full bar, full bar with menu of seasonal specialty cocktails) would be helpful.
posted by rustcellar at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2011


What everyone said. Hours (including special holiday hours), phone number, location and map, parking info, full menu with prices (doesn't have to include daily specials), interior and exterior photos. No Flash, no PDF. Everything should be accurate and up-to-date. All the information should be easily accessible from the front page; don't make people suffer through an "intro".
posted by equalpants at 3:32 PM on March 2, 2011


First priority: Menu, hours of operation, phone number and address including a google maps link.

Second Priority: Photo Gallery, links to press and reviews, ability to reserve online, information for people with dietary restrictions (vegans, allergies, atkins, whatever.)

Third Priority: Event Calender, Catering, Parties,

Absolutely Do Not Use: Flash, PDF, Audio
posted by empath at 3:44 PM on March 2, 2011


I'm often surprised how hard it is to find happy hour times, menus & prices.
posted by Space Kitty at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2011


My irrational pet peeve is when restaurants here in NYC display addresses without indicating the cross streets and then I have to go type it into Google Maps because "96 Second Avenue" means nothing to me.

If you are in a city where this is the convention, the address should include cross streets either in text or viewable on a map image that is zoomed to the appropriate level.
posted by lalex at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, and you know what -- get the chef to start a twitter feed, and include that, if he or she has any kind of personality or is any kind of draw.
posted by empath at 3:46 PM on March 2, 2011


Whatever you do, don't do this with your menu.
posted by empath at 3:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


My PDF hate is several fold. First, they're attack vectors for viruses. Do not want. Second, depending on the computer/connection even small ones can take a very long time to load. Finally, and most important, so so many restaurants upload their menus as image files in the PDF, which makes them unreadable to someone using a text reader. Also, just because they display on the iphone doesn't mean they display on all the other web enabled phones out there. The iPhone is still a sliver of the market, and there's nothing to be gained by using a pdf over just putting a nice text menu on the site.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:48 PM on March 2, 2011


TEXT. Not just not PDF's, but actual text. Not images that say "MENU" and "DIRECTIONS" and "HOURS." If you must have images, use alt text. But please use text. People with poor vision like to eat, too.

This is a really, really good point. Check the compatibility of your website with the programs that blind people use for accessibility. There's no reason not to have this right.
posted by brainmouse at 3:49 PM on March 2, 2011


nearest subway stop

If the restaurant is in an urban area with commonly used public transit, this information should be given on the site in the same area where location, business hours, contact info, and basic directions are listed. Like this:

KIRKARACHA CAFE
123 W. Urban Ave. (corner of Purple St.) - Cambridge, MA
Three blocks west of the Orange Line T station at Newbury St., convenient to the 109, 32, and BX111 bus lines.

We are open from 10am to 10pm every day, rain or shine! Closed Yom Kippur and Diwali. Please call us at 617.555.FOOD for reservations or to hear today's specials.

~

I should not have to run your address through HopStop or scroll around a google map to figure out how to get there via public transit.

Another good idea is to make sure to list the location of the restaurant according to local conventions. If I'm in New York, I honestly couldn't care less about the street number of your restaurant. I'm looking for the neighborhood, street name and cross streets - I should be able to find your restaurant from there. If geography in your neck of the woods doesn't abide by the typical New York conventions, I need more, not less. Don't say "KIRKARACHA CAFE, 1432 45th" if you're in Queens, because that doesn't even remotely tell me where your restaurant is.
posted by Sara C. at 4:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, good lord a black and white page in Verdana with a phone number, address, hours, and the menu.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:36 PM on March 2, 2011


I developed a small one-page site for a local business and I was contacted randomly by a person that worked on a city guide site asking me to add one of their features to the site. I was skeptical because mostly people just spam you to be in their city guides, but check this out:

http://www.schmap.com/enable

It's just a couple lines of javascript and it adds a mobile-friendly version of your site one click away from the site (they can stay on your designed site and dismiss the option or launch into the mobile one). The mobile version is super simple, just clickable phone, address, and a google maps integration of where it is located.

It took me all of two minutes to add it to the local business site two years ago and since I still use that business I often hit it up on my phone and I love being able to call them easily by clicking on that site.
posted by mathowie at 4:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a general rule that if prices aren't clearly displayed, they don't want my business. No prices tells me that the vendor thinks that if I have all the relevant information, I would choose against buying from them. Any purchase that is dependent on my ignorance is a purchase I will not make. So, I fourth/fifth/whatever all the calls for menu prices.

Of course, this means that the website will have to be regularly updated. Which it should be anyways, but this seals it.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:09 PM on March 2, 2011


Oh my God. I work for a magazine for a living. One that covers a lot of local restaurants. The McSweeney's piece from a while back was definitely a hit around the office. The Web developer and I have frequently discussed starting a business where we just cold-call local restaurants and offer to fix their websites—almost more as a public service than anything profit-related.

There is a ton of great advice in this thread.

First, yes, you should have a website.

Second, don't do this. I don't care who you are.

Third, as so many others have said: Please, no Flash, PDF-only menus, or music. No videos that play on page load. No .wmv or .mov files that pop up and trigger an external application. No useless splash pages (animated or static or stating "Click here to enter" or whatever) that stand between potential customers (and reviewers) and the information.

Fourth, at very least include the basics: (A) The full, correct restaurant name—the one it's incorporated as or that you've registered as a DBA name or that appears on your menus or that you had nailed above the door, preferably. (B) The full address and phone number, in real HTML text, not as an image, preferably on the first page (or every page), and if not there, at very least on the "Contact" or "Location" page. (C) Your real, current, updated hours! (D) Your current menu—whatever you would have on your in-restaurant menu, it should be on your website, in real HTML text, not as a PDF, with your current prices and specials, not the ones from when your nephew first set up the website in 1995. (E) If you host events/music, an easily viewable calendar of what's upcoming with dates, times, and pricing.

Fifth, some things I wish more restaurateurs would include: (A) An embedded Google Map, or a link to one—not a MapQuest or Bing map. (B) An HTML text wine list that's current, with full wine names (including, at very least, house/domaine, varietal, and year for each) and pricing for each, including by-the-bottle, by-the-glass, by-the-quartino, or any other price breakdown that's available. If you've gone to the trouble to hire a sommelier, you might as well put him or her to work. (C) A clear, appropriately placed image of the restaurant's logo, if it has one. (D) A clear photo of what the restaurant actually looks like, preferably including the sign above the door. Anyone who has to write about your business (or edit writing about your business) will thank you.

Seventh, know this: A contact form is not a substitute of any sort for actually including your location and phone number and hours. Nor is a map. Nor is a .jpg or .png or .gif or any other kind of image. If you choose to include those things, great, but above them and/or somewhere else on your website, you still need to have someone type in basic HTML text with your location and phone number and hours.

Eighth, learn from this Google search: If you have to fill out a form to have a local vendor create a website for you, fill out all the fields. Or get another vendor.
posted by limeonaire at 6:56 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ninth, you know what else would be awesome? If restaurants all actually included, somewhere (on the "About" page?) the names of the owner and the chef—the current ones, not the ones from two renovations/ownership changes back. That would help immensely.
posted by limeonaire at 7:01 PM on March 2, 2011


Wow, thanks for all the excellent answers, everyone!

Second, don't do this. I don't care who you are.
Since I have Flash blocked I couldn't see what you meant, which is one of the many problems with using Flash.

posted by kirkaracha at 7:39 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since I have Flash blocked I couldn't see what you meant, which is one of the many problems with using Flash.

Oh man. I'll tell you: The page loads with a blank red background. Then a little white line pops up and resizes itself into a box, and inside, there's then a very slow animation of chef Hubert Keller's signature being drawn in what looks like Sharpie. There's no option to click past any of this.
posted by limeonaire at 7:45 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't see this in my skimming through, so I just wanted to add that the address and telephone number should be in text, not as part of an image. I find it infuriating when I'm looking at a website on my phone and try to copy the address to put it into google maps, or the phone number to call for a reservation and I realize that it's a stupid picture that I cannot copy and paste!
posted by you zombitch at 9:29 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If reservations not required, expected wait time info and/or webcam aimed at waiting area.
posted by Kevin S at 5:52 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Corkage fee information if applicable, also spend the time to make a google sitemap document so if I find your site on google I can go directly to the appropriate page.
posted by askmehow at 6:56 AM on March 3, 2011


"The Web developer and I have frequently discussed starting a business where we just cold-call local restaurants and offer to fix their websites—almost more as a public service than anything profit-related."

I've dabbled in this, as a casual service and heads-up to restaurant owners. They do NOT care.
posted by tremspeed at 10:43 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


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