5 Things You Should Never Do With Your Restaurant's Website
The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is wake up my laptop and check Twitter. When I leave the house, the first thing I check for when I do my three-pat pocket test is my phone, not my keys or my wallet. The first thing I do when I get into work? E-mail. Then coffee.
Let's just say that the Internet is a big part of our lives now (I guess there's an argument to be made that I spend too much time online, but let's ignore that). But, despite how often the Internet finds itself in our pants, our homes, and our cars, I still run into websites that are just... horrible. Terrible.
5. Not Having a Mobile Site
This might start off sounding like an Internet marketing article trying to convince you to do one thing or another, but I promise it's not.
Mobile devices accounted for 13 percent of all web traffic in 2012. People use their smartphones to look up restaurants. Please, please, pleaseeeee have a mobile site. The faster I can find your hours and menu, the faster I can drive to your restaurant and eat. Your mobile site doesn't have to be pretty, it doesn't have to be complex, and it doesn't have to have your entire restaurant's history on it. I'm not going to miss your photo slideshows or meticulously timed drop-down menus when I'm hungry--all I need are hours, the phone number, location and menu.
Really, it's almost polite having a simple mobile website; it leaves me more battery life for Draw Something and Words With Friends.
4. Obnoxious Noises
Let's just say there's a local restaurant which has a sweet that's one of my favorite desserts. But the first time I visited their website with headphones in I stopped being hungry and started fearing for my life and my hearing.
Listen, having random songs or clips of cawing was okay last decade. The Internet was a strange place then. It was just growing out of the auto-play music era of Geocities and Angelfire. But now? The Internet is a tranquil paradise. At least, until I start being attacked by birds.
3. Flash-based Websites
Another local restaurant has a website that's kind of cute in a kitschy sort of way, but it's the perfect example of why purely Flash-based websites need to die. It's slow, it's clunky, and, honestly, it hurts more than it helps.
For one, search engines can't index text in Flash files, so if you're googling something you saw on their menu, you're going to end up empty handed. Oh, and you can't look at it on your phone.
Sure, if you have a recent enough version of Flash installed, if you're on a desktop, if you allow every script object to run, and if you click around for a bit you can find the menu, hours, and location of the restaurant, but if you want to send your friend a link? Maybe have him look at a menu? Good luck.
2.Misspell Your Restaurant Name
Come on guys, you're better than this
This is a no brainer, right? No one needs to be told to spell their name correctly in their URL. Right?
Apparently, bánh-mì-purveyor-to-the-masses Lee's Sandwiches didn't get the memo. Where do you go if you want to visit the sandwich store's official webpage?
www.leesandwiches.com. And, according to the site's WHOIS information, Lee's Andwiches' website was created in 1998--the same year Google was born.
Stranger still? The correct spelling, www.LeesSandwiches does exist, but it redirects to the misspelled URL. Why not have it the other way around?
1. Not Have a Website
Guys, websites are important. Yelp, Facebook and Google aside, having just a simple webpage people can reference is super helpful. You should be proud your restaurant, so why make it so I have to reference photos of your menu someone else took with a shitty camera and uploaded online whenever I'm trying to decide where to eat? Your website doesn't even need to be complex, just don't screw anything up and you'll already be ahead of the curve.
Charles Lam is the Seattle-based editor of the Northwest Asian Weekly, a former Weekly intern and forever Weekling, and misses Orange County food greatly. He'll be feeding Forkers listicles every week! You can follow him on Twitter @charlesnlam.
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