Overdone: Why are restaurant websites so horrifically bad?: Totally agree:
While lots of people have noted the general terribleness of restaurant sites, I haven’t ever seen an explanation for why this industry’s online presence is so singularly bruising. The rest of the Web long ago did away with auto-playing music, Flash buttons and menus, and elaborate intro pages, but restaurant sites seem stuck in 1999.
I’ve occasionally thought about this, and in the end, it’s a situation of just not thinking hard enough about the user and their actual needs. Restaurants are very stylish affairs, and the site is largely done for the restaurant owner/chef’s pleasure, rather than the visitor’s. (Masturbatory web design, writ large.)
What do users really need out of a restaurant website? I can think of four things off the top of my head:
- Hours of operation
- Menu with prices
- How to get a reservation, if necessary.
Most restaurant sites can’t even do these four things well.
More importantly, here are three things I’m not looking for:
- Any discussion of how awesome your chef is. I don’t often go to a restaurant where the chef matters. I’m sure they have chefs, and they’re probably pretty good, but I can’t name one except for Anthony Bourdain, and that’s only because he’s on TV.
- Any view into your “ambiance.” With a restaurant, I’m primarily looking for food. Ambiance is great, but I’m not so stupid as to think I’m going to be able to judge this from your website.
- Music. Dear Lord, I don’t want music.
But, for some reason, restaurants focus on these things, seemingly above all else. The line of reasoning is pretty clear (from the article):
Restaurant sites are the product of restaurant culture. These nightmarish websites were spawned by restaurateurs who mistakenly believe they can control the online world the same way they lord over a restaurant.[…] “People in restaurants have a sense that they want to create an entertainment experience online—that’s why disco music starts, that’s why Flash slideshows open. They think they can still play the host even here online.”