Out of curiosity, what do you expect from a restaurant's website? What works and doesn't work for you?
Personally, when I hear of a restaurant, one of the first things I do is go looking for their website, searching for a menu. After that, I want to know their location, hours of operation, and the parking situation. Contact information is good, too.
But what I don't want is one of these new "flashy" sites with difficult to navigate nested pages, separate pages for the various "parts" of the menu (in fact, I like the menu to have a downloadable option so I can print it and drop it into a folder to have in the car), and I don't want to have to sit through some 45-second Flash intro.
Just wondering what others think.
I couldn't agree with you more. I look for the usual info as well. The menu should be in a pdf with pricing info with a date.
I think if they want to be flashy and show off their "work" a nice photo gallery of their dishes would be a nice as well, especially if it's an exotic dish. You know what they say, eating starts with the eyes.
I don't mind seeing the menu in pdf. format. Keeps it simple. When I see that their "Starters" are the usual and routine things, I skip down to the salads, and if I see that it's more of the same "Chicken Caesar Salad," I check out soups. That's very often where the originality can be found, but if it says "Soup du jour," I then go to entrees.
It's a really fast way of seeing what's creative or new and what's more of the same old same old. I have absolutely no interest in flashy sites, seeing the decor, or knowing that the table I might sat at were once used as doors in the old Trappist monastery that mysteriously went up in flames one winter night in 1918.
I just want it to be right there and simple so I can see what's available. And I want it in simple language.
The first thing I look for is the menu, with prices. I need to know whether there are vegetarian options, and I gauge the menu to see if the restaurant looks open to substitutions.
Then I look for photos, so I can see if the restaurant is group-friendly. (I would love it if restaurants said how many seats they have...)
Location - and proximity to subways - are next.
As for the interface, the simpler, the better. No clip-art, please, or annoying club-like music.
I want pretty much the same as I'm looking for in a church website - where is it, when is it open, and what's on the menu... a photo gallery is nice but not essential. Having prices is an advantage too. The site needs to reflect the nature of the place and give you an idea of what to expect.