Things I want to see on a restaurant's website
1. Menu. Prices would be nice but I want to see what types of food they offer.
2. Phone number. To call for reservations etc.
3. Hours and days of operation. If a restaurant is going to close on Mon etc, please say so on the website.
If they really thought about it, putting the hours and days of operations online who prevent a lot of phone calls.
What I don't like to see is the opening that flashes and that tells you that you can skip if you want, I'd rather just get to the info. I don't like when they don't have menus or when they only have the take-out menu available on-line.
hours & days
Nice to have:
current or sample menu
photos of interior and/or food
Should not have:
information in other than HTML or PDF format
email address nobody ever checks
Might kill any desire to patronize:
can't get past front door without Flash player
Example of what not to do:
re: Robert Lauriston
Wow! That must be the worst restaurant website in the entire Bay Area. Did the owner's 10 year old build it?
Only thing I'd add to your list is that it's nice to have a non-wine beverage list. Drives me nuts when I can download a 10 page PDF wine list but I can't even find mention of whether or not they serve beer.
Also, menus posted without prices are a huge turnoff for me, as if they're trying to hide something. I understand prices may fluctuate, but is it that hard to periodically update the online menu?
re: Robert Lauriston
I have to confess - I kind of like it - it gives me the sense that it might be a fun, family run place that doesn't take itself too seriously. Reminds me a bit of the site of an inn on the North Fork of Long Island opened recently by ex-Gramercy Tavern people. In various parts of the website they have stock photos - but with amusing commentary on such photos. But maybe I have an odd sense of humor.
Things I want to see:
-- A phone number for reservations is okay, but online reservations via Open Table or a similar service are even better.
-- If the restaurant does not take reservations, or takes them only for large groups, that policy should be stated clearly on the Web site. Don't make me call just to learn that no reservations are taken.
-- Daily specials. Since many fine restaurants print their menus each day based on what is fresh, it might not be that hard to create a template into which that day's menu might be uploaded.
Things I don't want to see (or hear):
-- As suggested above, splash screens with fancy graphics and thumping music are not helpful. They take the emphasis away from the food and delay my quest for information.
Have to disagree on prices -- I find it so frustrating when menus are posted without prices. Part of my calculation of whether I want to go someplace is how much it will cost and there is a big difference between lots of $14 entrees and mostly $20 entrees, a difference that is not necessarily obvious by the menu, general vibe, etc.
I would agree that prices are good, Flash is bad. But I would say please don't put the menu in PDF either, I hate having to open it to view something, especially if it's written in a cutesy script font to begin with. How hard could it be to retype the menu in clear font on the website?
I like this one because it's so damn simple, yet has pretty much everything you need, and was up and running as soon as the restaurant opened:
Here's one I find pretty annoying: you have to choose high or low bandwidth, each page takes a while to load, the menu font is hard to read, and there's no hours!
Most "must haves" listed I completely agree with but driving directions to the restaurant would be very helpful; Mapquest for instance is rarely reliable.
Parking information with idiot-proof directions to the lot or valet. A lot of websites 'directions' just link you to a mapquest-type page. In L.A., the 'address' you get there may be a long drive (yet a 100-foot walk) from the parking lot or Valet.
I'm mostly thinking of restaurants like Il Pastaio, where the lunch valet is on the corner, which requires going through three lights to reach from the restaurant address (due to one way streets).
Agree with the flash, unless Scorcese directed it and then I'll sit back and watch.
What I want is:
1 - Menu (prices would be nice (put a disclaimer on it if it changes a little)
2 - Phone number
3 - Hours of operation
4 - Closing time and a definition of what that means, last seating, kitchen down, or waiters out the door.
5 - A picture of the dining room would be nice
6 - Did I say menu and phone number
7 - Photo of the outside so I can recognize when in a cab
1 - I am not interested in dating the chef, show me the kitchen before the posed Pig Book shot, please post on My Space
2 - Reviews. They are all lies, too positive and probably payola-time. The NY Times reviewed a resto in town, gave it an "Excellent" and when you read the text they sent 3 of 5 meals back to the kitch, DUH?
3 - OLD MENUS. It' October 2006. Although some may want to remember April 2005, that's not a good sign if it's still on the site
4 - Links to better restos owned by the same management group. This is the ultimate in upselling, give me a break
In addition, I really want to see photos of the food. The way the menu is written tells me a great deal about a restaurant and it's offerings, but pair it with a photo and I know precisely what you're selling.
Sadly, somebody has already recognized that market in Toronto and tried to fill it. The vast majority of Toronto resto websites are done by one of a small handful of design concerns - most notably MenuPalace - that specialize in restaurant work.
They're out there selling restaurants on the idea that music and flash is the way to go, and it would be very difficult to sell those restaurants on a scaled back, simpler, more static site.
A big one -- content written by someone fluent in English. Yes, I know that the vast majority of restaurant workers aren't, and yes, I know that continually-updated content (like a daily menu) aren't going to be spelled right...
...but the static portion of your site, have somebody proficient in the language go over it before you put it into production!
I agree with most of what is said here.
The most important things to me to see in a restaurant's website are:
1) Hours, address & phone number
2) menu-- preferably with prices (or at least put up a sample menu so I can see if it is the sort of place that I can take my super picky brother, my non-pork-eating husband or my vegetarian friends)
3) Reservation policy, accepted payment types
4) Directions that they've written with landmarks etc.
5) How to get there via public transportation
6) photos of the exterior and of the dining room
I also hate the overly Flash-y sites. Flash is good when used in moderation. I hate sites that replay an entire 30+ seconds flash sequence whenever you go back to the main page.
Actually what bothers me most is when they don't have one at all. I was just reminded of this as I was searching for one that I'm going to on Sat night. Very popular restaurant. No website. I think that's my biggest pet peeve re restaurant websites.
A restaurant's website listed their hours as DAILY 11am-9pm.
But they closed at 5pm on Sunday and are completely closed on Monday.
I guess that restaurant and I used a different dictionary.
Another observation: For some reason, most restaurants within hotels and resorts lack helpful Web sites. There is usually a page on the property's Web site labeled "dining" and that page describes the restaurant(s) on site, but there is almost never a menu or any of the other items mentioned in this thread. Most hotels and resorts seem to be missing an opportunity to promote their restaurants effectively.
If they are going to post a menu, attach the date, "menu and prices as of".
How about posting their last health inspection date and score.
For those of us of who eat sushi, whether or not the place is owned by Rev. Moon.
Now that we have a puppy, I really love to see information about the outdoor dining area of restaurants. I would love to know if the outdoor seating is available during all hour of operations, if the area is heated, and of course, is the area pet friendly.
1) Menu with descriptions & prices
2) address and phone numbers
3) hours of operation
4) a bar menu listing out what beers, and tequillas they pour
5) pictures of some menu items, and the dining area
OK, so the usual: hours, location, menus, prices, contact information, reservation policy (do they take them? etc.), whether they accommodate special diets, reviews
Then, the added value: the day's specials, photos of the space and the food, the number of seats, the closest subway/bus stop, an online reservation form, an online feedback form (that the management actually reads), nutritional information (when it's possible, let's not go crazy here), a calendar of events if there's live music or whatever
The big no-nos: music of any kind, really busy design, pop-ups, long-winded praise of the chef and his/her "art"
I HATE music on website. Especially when there isn't even an option to turn off the music. Mainly cause I am usually at work when trying to decide on a restaurant and my computer is very slow and my volume control doesn't always work very quickly. My coworkers a few times have asked where that 'noise' was coming from.
I don't go to restaurant websites to hear music, that is what music websites are for.
I am sorry, but I think "What type of music they play" is a bit much. A lot of restaurants (the one I work at as well) Change the music based upon the crowd. If its later in the evening on a friday night, and we have a younger crowd, the music would be different than say a Tuesday night, at 6:30, with an older, more professional crowd.
Whether or not a restaurant is fully wheelchair accessable is very important to many people. That includes rest rooms too. Too often it is not mentioned on the web sites.
This was mentioned in one of the posts, but it's worth re-iterating: a Last Updated line....it's always good to know if this is last year's menu, whether I should expect the prices to be in the same ballpark, etc. etc.
While this also shows how well a site is maintained, I would rather look at an old site that tells me it was updated last year than at one with no date information....My other pet peeve: scanned menus with small fonts (i.e., font size cannot be increased).
And one last thing: if the restaurant does not take Amex or only takes Amex, I would like to know that in advance, so an online reminder is always useful.