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Everything I would fix about your terrible restaurant website right now if I could reach through the screen

November 17, 2014

birds dining

Photo: Alexander Boden (CC)

I go through this every time I browse through restaurants online.

Terrible, outdated, incomplete websites.

I could back-date this post to 2001. And I won’t even get started on the number of places that use Facebook or Yelp as their “website.”

This is what I would have you fix about your website today. Even a simple business card page that includes all the info would be preferable to some of the lackluster sites out there. (I’ve included links to sites with examples done right.)

  1. Hours, phone number, email, address. On every. single. page.
  2. Seriously, list your email. I saw sites that list their fax number but not their email.
  3. And respond to your email (a long-standing pet peeve).
  4. Twitter icon should link to your Twitter account. Or get rid of it.
  5. Mobile version or responsive version.
  6. Menus. And not just PDFs either. Actual text on page, with prices.
  7. Want to link out? Go nuts. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Yelp, Urbanspoon, Foursquare/Swarm, reviews, profiles, blog posts …
  8. Photos. Fewer ones of your empty restaurant, more of ingredients and entrees and people enjoying your food. Points deducted if you use stock images.
  9. And photos sized properly for the Web. No 6MB pics, please.
  10. Or just have an Instagram feed.
  11. A couple of sentences about your restaurant couldn’t hurt. What do you serve? How formal are you? How long have you been in business? What’s the house specialty? Do you suggest reservations?
  12. If you cater, post a menu and an order form.
  13. Or just, at least, say you offer catering.
  14. Page titles still matter. I’ve seen sites with ” ” as the page title.
  15. Do you take credit cards? Checks? Cash only? Paypal, bitcoin, Apple Pay, traveler’s checks hugs?
  16. Kids welcome? Tell me about your high chairs, children’s menu and discounts.
  17. If you deliver, tell me the minimum order and show me a map of your delivery area.
  18. I have a sweet tooth. I would like to know if you serve dessert. I don’t care if you’re open only for breakfast. No, you shut up!
  19. Special event coming up? New page or blog post.
  20. New chef? New page or blog post.
  21. Seasonal menu? New page or blog post.
  22. Toy drive? New page or blog post.
  23. Do you offer gift cards? It’s when people hand you free money, and they may or may not ever use the card itself. Or they use the card and spend even more money …
  24. Daily specials. Happy hour specials. Late night specials.
  25. Will you be open on Thanksgiving? Closing early the day before? Closing Wednesday through Sunday? Leave a note on your site.
  26. Proofread it. And have someone else proofread it.
  27. Owner bio and chef bio.
  28. Parking: where and how much? Valet?

Make it easy for hungry diners to pick your restaurant. Give them a smorgasbord of relevant information on your website.

What bugs you about restaurant sites? Let me know in the comments.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2014 11:30 am

    All of the above!

    Sometimes, if I’m not sure about visiting or trying a new restaurant I’ll try their happy hour first. IF a restaurant has happy hour and different specials, why not list the hours and the specials on their site? Some restaurants don’t realize that happy hour is a way to advertise new specials or entice new customers. Sometimes I want to visit a restaurant right after work and I don’t want to wait until 7:30 or 8 p.m. on a week night. Happy hour allows me to not only try something new, but I can also get more friends to meet me for dinner right after work because no one wants to come back out for dinner after a long day at work. More friends mean more money spent! But if I don’t know what time happy hour begins or ends or what kind of specials a restaurant has and it’s not listed or update on the site, I just won’t go.

    • November 23, 2014 3:24 pm

      Very good point, RoniLynn. I hope the restaurants are paying attention.

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