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website menus in pdf format...

is it just me or is any one else annoyed by websites that use pdf formatting for posting menus online?

or are we just stuck with it?

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  1. Not at all
    At least I can read it
    On my iPad

    Those silly flash

    6 Replies
    1. re: alwayscooking

      i dont have an ipad...
      nor do i ever plan on buying one...

      1. re: srsone

        Whatever works for you . . .
        The few million others though get annoyed

        1. re: alwayscooking

          i generally do my surfing at home..with my pc.

          i do my restaurant picking before going out and the occasional online ordering for take out..

          yes flash sites and annoying doodads and geegaws (technical terms) just take away from my main goal
          of finding the place...
          checking the menu ahead of time...(with a 3 yo i usually check for kids menus or at least something she would like to eat)
          hours of operation...

          i not so concerned with what ways people are accessing the web...phone,ipad,tablet,windows phone,laptop, whatever...

          hopefully this discussion can reveal a good website design that would make everybody happy...

          1. re: srsone

            I think it's just to avoid Flash—I do my research at home, too, but a lot of times I need to get information while I'm on the road. ("Meet us at Cafe MeatyYummers! It's... uh... it's downtown... it's... damn it, why is this in Flash? Hang on, let me check Yelp.")

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              i usually send the addy to my phone..
              but my phone (not an iphone either :-P ) also has navi with a pretty decent search function...

              but yes yelp mobile is much better at finding restaurants than most sites...

      2. re: alwayscooking

        Well, the Flash vs iPad is a Steve Jobs' phobia, though it is driving much of that industy.

        Flash is fine for reading online, so long as one is not using one of Jobs' recent offerings, but printing the menu out, leaves a lot to be desired.

        Give me a PDF, and I can enlarge it, search it, print it, or just read it, as is.


      3. I really prefer the .pdf format. Much easier to print, if I need.

        1. I prefer them in pdf. That way I can save a copy for easy reference and ordering. I can even print a copy and put on the fridge.

          1. Sort of agree with other posters, why does it annoy you ?

            14 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Because it comes as a downloadable file. How freaking hard is it to push the content into HTML so it'll render in my browser properly.

              1. re: jgg13

                I've been having a hard time with PDF lately. sometimes all I get is a black page and a blue line inside a horizontal grey bar.

                1. re: jgg13

                  If you change your menu daily then you:
                  Print the menus and save to PDF and then upload the file. Or reformat everything into HTML and CSS which takes a lot longer.

                  I like that a PDF menu will usually have prices.

                  I dislike when a PDF spawns a new page especially if you are NOT on a smartphone. Lazy design imnsho. Trust that the user knows how to get back to the previous page.

                  Sadly some phone OSs are just nor great with PDfs but they'll catch up.

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    It should take nearly no extra time for someone to put something into HTML. It's not rocket science. Even if the menu changes daily they could have someone spend the 2 minutes a day it takes to do that.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      What is it with HTML. Why are you having problems with PDF, when most folk are not?

                      Are you on DOS 3, or something?


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I've explained it in multiple posts in this thread, feel free to read around. For the record, I'm an advocate of having both.

                        1. re: lseavey

                          agreed in <b> </b>! That's complete nonsense

                          1. re: lseavey

                            Suppose today the ribeye special for $23 becomes a strip steak for $20. How long would it take them to change the phrase "ribeye special $23" to "strip steak $20"? Depending on the situation, they wouldn't even have to change the markup

                      2. re: jgg13

                        I use IE 7, and Google Chrome. I also have Adobe Acrobat reader and Acrobat Pro. Never had any issue with PDF's, and do not need it to be in HTML. PDF's display perfectly, and I have total control.

                        Which browsers do you have an issue with?


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Tell me, in which browser do these PDFs render as part of the overall site - IE not as a downloadable file, loading a new page and/or tab, etc, and are as compact in size as an HTML page would be?

                          For the record, I use Chrome, Safari and various versions of FF on multiple flavors of unix as well as OSX.

                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            iPhone, iPad... if the file size is too large (then most mobiles will just take forever).

                            1. re: noeltock

                              I've run into this very thing before. Out in the middle of nowhere, crap connection, and the place has a 5MB PDF instead of about 30K of HTML. Thanks guys.

                      3. If it's well done I don't mind it, as it's easy to read, easy to print out, and genuinely portable. I much prefer that to something that involves massive amounts of Flash video that only work on specific operating systems and browsers.

                        1. http://theoatmeal.com/comics/restaura...

                          I'd sooner have the PDF than the embedded menu split into fourteen headers ("click here for cold appetisers!") or the tiny "artistic" embedded menu with the tiny, hard-to-see scroll bar.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            yes...thats what im talking about...huge files that take along time to download...
                            my computer is only a few years old.and i have high speed internet..
                            and some of these menus take some time to dl...
                            sometimes i can dl movies faster...than a menu pdf...

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Love the comment on that page about the address you can't cut and paste into a mapping app. Man is that annoying. Or places that give a location like "in the such in such shopping center" or "next to Chase Bank". Like I'm going to put that into my gps.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                cheesecake factory website could be the poster boy for that description...
                                except thank god they dont do their menu in pdf...

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  That is just bad design and layout.

                                  A good designer will make is easy for a client, or potential client.

                                  There will be logical layout in a readable font, with proper leading and kerning, and with the ability to print it out for reference.

                                  Probably some Web designer doing their first job, and wanting to show off their capabilities in Dreamweaver. Happens far too often, unfortunately.

                                  I had to do a screen-cap of a resort's Home page, then take it into Photoshop to magnify the address, as the font chosen was totally unreadable, even on a high-rez monitor. No excuse for that - just poor design. They should not be shooting for awards, but allowing the client to satisfy the potential clients. Make it easy folks.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    My pet peeve is websites that have non-Roman characters as graphics files rather than a proper fond. If it's a proper font, I can cut and paste it into a text document, and increase the font size until I can read it properly (small Chinese text is hard to decipher), and I can put it into a computer dictionary to look up the pronunciation, instead of spending 5 minutes a character with a dictionary.

                                2. I think the advantage of the pdf is they can change the menu easier than if it is part of the website.

                                  1. As someone who works in the industry (the tech side), I can tell you it is far easier to maintain a dynamic element, such as a menu, when it's a separate file....pdf's because not everyone can open a word doc, etc, and also pdfs usually compress the file a bit when images and graphics are used

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      yea...thats what i figured...easier for them (and u IT people)

                                      it just gets a little annoying clicking on "menu" the u have to wait while the pdf opens..and if for some reason i go back one page it then has to redownload it again if i want to go back to the menu again...
                                      some sites it will pop open as another window and this helps somewhat...

                                      but like i said...maybe its just me.... :-)

                                      1. re: srsone

                                        I agree that it's easier (and I too am an IT wonk), but that doesn't mean it needs to be a huge PDF file... and larger restaurants (and restaurant chains!) do this when they should be using a content management system. (Not really a scalable option for smaller, mom-and-pop places.)

                                        1. re: srsone

                                          Well, I am am one of those "u" people, and PDF's open instantly, even with multiple pages, on even my poor little laptop, with the Wireless G connection.

                                          A 300 page PDF opens in about 90secs., and few menus get even close. Now, I have had to wait up to 2 mins. for a few wine lists, but I can be sipping, while that happens.

                                          I'll trade that little bit of time, for accuracy. If I plan on a half-dozen wines, only to find out that the list shown was from 2 years ago, and they have taken a different direction, I am a bit peeved.


                                        2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                          Tell them to buck up and learn some HTML. It doesn't take a whole lot longer to add in the tags, and heck, many editors will do it for you. They shouldn't be using graphics at all.

                                          If they want to include a PDF, great. But give me a text only, HTML based menu or get bent.

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            get bent?!!!! What does that mean? Text only looks like little jimmy nextdoor created it...a website is a business' public image to the world

                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                              Get bent == Go screw

                                              No, text only for a menu looks more professional and less goofy. They can utilize CSS stylings if they want, they can have a look & feel. I'm not saying to go back to the original HTML standard of black text on a gray background, people can feel free to use fonts, colorings, etc to give a professional look.

                                              Here's what I want in a restaurant web site:
                                              - contact information
                                              - address
                                              - hours
                                              - menu, in pure HTML. PDF is allowed if also in HTML.

                                              I don't want anything more, or anything less.

                                              There's a reason why restaurant websites are universally panned, except apparently by restaurant owners and idiotic web designers.

                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                Why not come into the today, and get off that high-horse?

                                                Or, just do not frequent restaurants not caught up in the technology of a decade ago.


                                            2. re: jgg13

                                              Why, when PDF is now, and HTML is so 90's?

                                              Besides, why should the chef, or the sommelier need to learn HTML? They have better things to concentrate on.


                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                It seems like the strongest PDF advocates in this thread are older people.

                                                I'm not sure on what you're basing your statement that somehow PDF is more hip & nouveau than web based stuff, feel free to make your argument.

                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                  No, it seems that the strongest advocates are people, who are in the business. [Grin]


                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                    if the ipad supported flash my opinion might be different.

                                                    1. re: thew

                                                      Yes, the Steve Jobs' anti-Flash decision is going to be problematic. However, one picks their battles.


                                              2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                Do the restaurants send the same pdf to the printers for their own laminated menus?

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  They can, but they do not always do so.

                                                  It can depend, though if they have created the menu in a page layout program, like InDesign, doing a PDF for the Web, and then another for high-rez reproduction is easy.

                                                  Most printers can use that high-rez PDF and print out the menu. If it's being done on a desktop, instead of a commercial printer, it is just as easy.

                                                  Almost every chef, and almost every sommelier, does their work in PDF, and then prints that day's menu on the desktop, or replaces pages in the wine list to reflect changes.

                                                  It is so very easy, so long as someone in the chain has a clue.


                                                2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                  I agree completely, and strongly recommend that a client choose a "living document" format, that anyone can change easily. Not every chef, or sommelier can write in HTML.


                                                3. If your computer has difficulty opening up a PDF then I'm pretty sure your problem that needs to be addressed is with the computer, and not the restaurant. It's 2011, PDF's are extremely easy to download, view, and manage with pretty much any device.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: newyorkDP

                                                    Different browsers handle PDFs in different ways. Some display them in the browser, some want you to download a file. Even if it's displayed in the browser it still sucks as that's disjoint from the website itself - either I have to hit the back button or I've got it open in another tab. That's a terrible UI.

                                                    It gets worse when I have to download a file. WTF should I have to download a file to see a restaurant's menu when it would take them no extra time to have it in there in HTML format?

                                                    It's 2011, websites reminiscent of Homer Simpson's don't need to exist any more.

                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                      What browser are you using?

                                                      Could that be an issue with your displeasure with PDF's.

                                                      I use a few, and none has a single issue. Until the PDF gets to about 200 pages, there is zero slowdown.

                                                      Maybe time to get a new browser?


                                                    2. re: newyorkDP

                                                      my computer doesnt have a problem opening them...thats not my issue..
                                                      jgg13 is mostly describing my issues..just a little more vehemently than i was....

                                                    3. I vastly prefer pdfs over flash-based anything. Pox on flash.

                                                      Easily scrollable html has the potential to be better than a pdf, provided the menu isn't split up among multiple pages.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: odkaty

                                                        So long as the chef, or the sommelier, sends the updated menu to a Web site developer, to code to HTML, in a day, or two.

                                                        Even a non-technical person can do the menus in PDF, and upload that to the server, with the same link. Happens in seconds, and not days.


                                                        1. re: odkaty

                                                          I agree, with the caveat that it be kept up to date AND the content is managed , no photos, etc. I've seen restaurant sites that give you the option of viewing in Flash or PDF- great and all, but i'm betting the PDF is the more current menu, if there's a difference. HTML- too many restaurants on a small budget can't afford to learn every format on earth for the sake of people with underpowered PCs.
                                                          not being able to see Flash content on my iPad is momentarily annoying, but I work and live in the PC world.

                                                        2. Love 'em. Easy to view, share, print, resize, etc.

                                                          1. Prefer PDFs as well. They are easier to read and easier to print. Not sure why the OP is having difficulty in downloading them. I have a relatively slow computer at home and restaurant site PDFs never take more than a couple of seconds to open.

                                                            1. Ummm. No. Should I be?

                                                              I can generally print the menu that way if I need to.

                                                              1. i did a little googling...
                                                                im not the only one who has issues with this...

                                                                and i dont have dl issues with all of them just reallly large ones..
                                                                the comic on the oatmeal site is a good example....

                                                                1. Okay, I've got a different take on this. I'm a print professional, PDFs are old enough to vote by now, and so we've gotten old and comfy together. I don't mind so much if the menu is nicely rendered in the browser, as long as it's done in an app that will let me peel it off into a text document, because if I'm interested in the restaurant I want to keep the menu. But PDFs are easier. Since I have the full version of Acrobat, when I click on the menu icon it downloads and opens, and then all I have to do is Save As whatever to the desktop.

                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                                    I think some browsers and/or websites will just open in a new tab or window, which is preferable than having to save-as and open manually. That's a ridiculous process if the former is available, which it is.

                                                                    I think Firefox wants to download. Chrome, in my experience, opens up nicely. IE, who knows. It probably sucks.

                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                      My process is different, possibly because I'm on a Mac and running Safari. It opens the PDF in a new window after I've clicked on the link, but if I just close the window the PDF goes away with it unless I do a Save As. This does have the advantage of letting me choose where to save it, whether in an existing folder or just to the desktop. And if I don't want the menu after all I can just let it disappear.

                                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                                        You can save that page wherever you want. You're suggesting that you can't?

                                                                        here's a site where Chrome works preferably and Firefox does not. Dinner menu:

                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                          I looked at the menu with Chrome. The pdf came up quickly on a new tab.

                                                                          On firefox gave me a 'what should I do with this file' dialog, with open being a option. It also lets me set 'do this automatically with files like this'.

                                                                          If viewing pdfs requires an annoying sequence of steps, it may be because your browser settings need to be changed.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            I am not annoyed by PDFs with chrome. Although I can understand why some are.

                                                                          2. re: tommy

                                                                            "You can save that page wherever you want. You're suggesting that you can't?" No, of course not. I'm just saying that's where I save them by default, unless I have a folder dedicated to menus.

                                                                            I haven't got Chrome yet. Being on a Mac I can't really do IE anymore since they don't support OSX at all; no big loss, but I do kinda miss Netscape. Safari has great big glitches, starting with rendering italic text as gobbledygook, and I wish they'd fix that.

                                                                            Anyway, as much as I am inclined to disparage Adobe as the latest Fount of All Evil, I would be immobilized without their software. Life without Photoshop has become unimaginable …

                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                              That site works fine for me in Firefox, opens a new window and displays the menu. Browser setting may be the culprit.

                                                                              1. re: walterblorch

                                                                                A new Firefox window? That would be surprising unless you have a plug-in.

                                                                                I should note that this website is working differently for me than it was on 4/16. Of course since then I've installed a new OS and quite possibly updated Firefox, which is now defaulting to opening in Preview, rather than to saving the file. But that's not a setting which I have gone out of my way to change.

                                                                                I'm wondering now if there really are a lot of websites that are forcing the user to download, assuming the user has their browser settings personalized to their liking (or plug-ins, in required)

                                                                            2. re: Will Owen


                                                                              On a PC, it is the same. I like a separate window (can be programmed by the Web designer), as I might want to see the Dinner Menu, the Lunch Menu, the Breakfast Menu and the Wine List in one session.

                                                                              That is why that I also like the separate window.

                                                                              Now, some computer configurations have security settings that preclude having a site open separate windows. I do not worry about that, as I want that capability.


                                                                            3. re: tommy

                                                                              Chrome and safari do that as a default. Firefox can be made to do that. I've not used IE for over a decade, don't know whow it handles it.

                                                                              I should *never* be forced to download a file just to see basic content - that defeats the point of a web page, if they wanted me to download a file why not just give me a FTP link and let me have at it. At least with modern browsers I get to kinda/sorta pretend that I'm not.

                                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                                IE handles PDF links the same way Chrome does - opens smoothly in a new tab or window.

                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                  "IE, who knows? It probably sucks."

                                                                                  Well, I am not current on IE, and still use IE 7, but it has zero issues with PDF's

                                                                                  Chrome is the same way too.

                                                                                  Newer versions of IE, well, I just do not know,but would suspect that if my IE 7 handles them flawlessly, then later iterations would too.

                                                                                  Once, I had every version of IE and also Netscape (was popular once) on my workstation, to test with. Finally, the world moved from 720 x 480 CRT mono-chrome monitors, and many versions of IE (plus Netscape) passed away. One no longer must program for the lowest possible denominator, and instead, for a more modern world.


                                                                              2. I was about to say I feel the same way too, and then realized the pdf's are actually not that bad unless I am trying to browse on my mobile phone, where with the low bandwidth, anything that is not pure text is hopeless. The real evil is actually all those flash components, which fortunately, on my very customized Firefox browser, usually only appear as blank squares on the page.

                                                                                When on the go and looking for restaurant information on my phone, coming across a website that loads slowly would just prompt me to look for the information elsewhere (Google etc.) or give up.

                                                                                For every media/resource heavy page, I would really prefer to see a mobile-friendly version too.

                                                                                1. PDFs are so common place nowadays that it should be standardized for all websites. I personally hate all of the html clicking things because there are so many restaurants that do the html coding do it all wrong. Some make it really hard to navigate the menu and you are almost always left scrolling left and right or up and down to read one item description and it just gets so annoying. I always think of this one restaurants website in town but I'm having trouble finding it that had a pretty poorly designed menu. PDF's are customizable and I like to be able to see the whole thing when I look at menu, not just one item at a time.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Roarasaur

                                                                                    A pdf is more likely to look just like the printed menu than an html version.

                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                      Doubly true if they use the same pdf file for printing the menu and the web site.

                                                                                      1. re: Eldon Kreider

                                                                                        As they would if they're working with a contemporary printing company. Every printer I know of, and I'm a professional in the field, wants a PDF of the client's working file as the work file. They do NOT want the InDesign file or any other. The printer's workflow is based entirely on the PDF.

                                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                          and i understand that...
                                                                                          but like jgg13 and i have said also..
                                                                                          its just lazy to leave it in pdf...

                                                                                          1. re: srsone

                                                                                            Why is that?

                                                                                            Should the restaurant have a Web person on staff too?

                                                                                            Should every chef and every sommiler learn HTML?

                                                                                            Yes,HTML is still being used, but requires a bit of HTML writing background. Also CSS and then HTML5 are making major inroads. Can your browser handle either?


                                                                                  2. Also prefer PDF.

                                                                                    I've also found that restaurants with PDF menus update their menus FAR more often than those with HTML menus - for obvious reasons. So when I see a PDF menu, I know that it's likely to be recently updated & that's what the menu will really look like when I'm there.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: uwsister

                                                                                      with the prevalence of the internet...and smart phones and iwhatevers...
                                                                                      i have rarely run into a menu that wasnt up to date...any decent place with a site had better keep up nowadays...
                                                                                      the only ones i dont expect to as much are the small "mom&pop" places.. which dont have an it department..
                                                                                      of which there are a few places like that here that i do frequent..some of which i have the menu memorized anyway..

                                                                                      1. re: srsone

                                                                                        You're lucky - I've seen 2 and 3 star restaurants in Manhattan with outdated menus on their websites.

                                                                                        1. re: srsone

                                                                                          The suggestion here is restaurants above the level of a mom and pop have an IT department. I think that's not accurate.

                                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                                            true...but somebody is doing it for them...

                                                                                            1. re: srsone

                                                                                              Why would they need "somebody?"

                                                                                              If they can use Word, or similar, then there is no need. That is the point.


                                                                                            2. re: tommy

                                                                                              I agree completely. Even the larger, chef-drive restaurants will NOT have an IT department. A good Web designer should have made it easy for them to update their Web site daily, or as is needed.

                                                                                              They should NOT have to have an IT department. Most can do their menu updates in a common word processor, and then Export to PDF, and link it to the previous one. Updates daily, with no coding needed.


                                                                                        2. I don't have an iPhone, at least not til June when I'm eligable, and don't have an iPad although I want one badly, but I still like the PDF file for anything I get into. I'm wondering why the OP is annoyed by them. Did I miss that part?

                                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: The Drama Queen

                                                                                            It was never explained satisfactorily to me, either. As far as I'm concerned the PDF is one of the best inventions since printing. Updating its contents is a simple matter of keeping a live document in the original layout program (InDesign, Quark or whatever) and just altering that and making a new PDF, which typically consumes all of two or three minutes. And at the receiving end, anybody with any flavor of computer (or other web device) can open and read it; what's not to like?

                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                              Right you are Will. I like the added feature of being able to make the text larger as needed. Sometimes a PDF file will come through with a tiny font.

                                                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                "what's not to like"

                                                                                                Already explained it. You have a few options of display:
                                                                                                1) Downloaded file (now I have a file cluttering up my filesystem that I might not want)
                                                                                                2) Open in a new tab (now I'm looking at a different tab, which I might not want to do)
                                                                                                3) Open in my current tab (now I'm not even on the same durned page within the tab)

                                                                                                All three violate pretty well standardized UI mechanisms for navigating through a web page.

                                                                                                PDFs are good for offline browsing, that I'll grant you. Places wshould feel free to provide them. PDFs are *not* a replacement for straight HTML.

                                                                                                Also, let's not forget the most important part. With HTML, I might have customized controls to override the way that things are rendered to fit my preferences. Maybe I want my font sizes to be a specific way. The whole point of PDF is that it renders exactly the same every time, that also goes against a long held mantra of the WWW (granted, one that graphic designers loathe, since they seem to be of the opinion that I should only see things the way they want me to see them)

                                                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                  Your file system? Can't you set up downloads to go to a download folder, which is essentially temporary and doesn't interfere with anything? Every time you visit a website stuff is downloaded to your computer. I don't see this as a valid reason for alarm.

                                                                                                  Where are these well standardized UI mechanisms documented? I've been involved in a fare amount of web development projects, but I'm unsure of how any standards apply to something as simple as a PDF file from a restaurant website.

                                                                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                    You seem to be having a really hard time grasping the notion that other people are not as knowledgeable about or interested in computers as you are.

                                                                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                      The "cluttering up of the file system" is not a good argument. Those files are in TMP and not downloaded to the system. If you are unaware of how a PDF and a browser works, that is not the problem of the restaurant.

                                                                                                      What is your background?

                                                                                                      I highly doubt that it is in Web design, or in any field of design. Your comments seem to indicate that you know little about computers, or about Web sites, or maybe you just learned those disciplines decades ago.

                                                                                                      I find your statements to be less than informed.



                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                        "Those files are in TMP"

                                                                                                        a) It's /tmp for any system I use, not "TMP". Actually it's the environment var TMPDIR, but that's neither here nor there
                                                                                                        b) Only if that's where one tells them to go

                                                                                                        "What is your background?"

                                                                                                        I write software. Sometimes that's involved web development, sometimes app development and sometimes other stuff.

                                                                                                        I'm not a graphic designer, nor do I ever want to be a true "web designer". My feeling is that most web sites are horribly designed. There are some truly awesome web designers out there, but they're about 0.00001% of the web designer population.

                                                                                                        "Your comments seem to indicate that you know little about computers"

                                                                                                        I would tend to disagree with that. Just the fact that I'm typing this on a linux desktop, with multiple terminals going, several emacs windows involving a few different programming languages, etc while you're talking about "TMP" and IE leads me to believe that I'm not the one who has deficient knowledge of computers.

                                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                          nerd fight!!!!!!!!!


                                                                                                          now which one of u has the biggest pocket protector...

                                                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                            Well, I am a graphic designer, and work with clients from mom-n-pops to Fortune 500's.

                                                                                                            I want to make things easy on my clients. There is always good return work that way, and not just to update the HTML of a menu.

                                                                                                            Disagree all that you want. The fact is that a client, without an IT department, can update the menu and the wine list easily. That makes them happy, and the continue to pay me my fees.


                                                                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                            And a bit whiny, I'm with you Hunt!

                                                                                                      2. re: The Drama Queen

                                                                                                        not all of them...
                                                                                                        just the really big ones..
                                                                                                        the big bloated slow down even my dsl ones...
                                                                                                        never mind the big ones on my phone...

                                                                                                        and if u look at the posts on the thread i do explain

                                                                                                        1. re: srsone

                                                                                                          The whole idea of the PDF, besides its cross-platform portability, is to reduce the byte size of the document. There is no need for a press-quality PDF on any monitor, and even the lowest-res PDFs will print legibly enough to use. So if you get one that's big, bloated and slow, that's the fault of the guy at the other end of the link. Now, I can't speak about how they translate onto anything but a computer monitor, because I just don't go there, nor do I ever intend to.

                                                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                            ...which is exactly the point, Will. Some people create these giant, bloated PDFs, and they do it sometimes by scanning the menu with a cheap scanner that doesn't support OCR (Optical Character Recognition), so you can't make copypasta in order to tempt someone to go to the restaurant.

                                                                                                            I don't have an issue with well-designed PDF, but it's not always a given.

                                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen


                                                                                                              I agree. While I do deliver high-rez PDF's to my clients' commercial printers, for the Web, the low-rez versions work and display well. Should I print one out on my big Epson, that works well enough to read clearly.

                                                                                                              No restaurant should be doing a high-rez version for the Web, and it's so very easy to Export one for the printer, and one for the Web, with different resolutions.

                                                                                                              A good designer should be able to "hold the hands" of the clients, and show them the buttons to push for either the desktop printer, or the Web. I know that I do. I never expect any client, whether a small corporation, or a mom-n-pop resort on some river in the high-country, to be able to program HTML, or have an IT department with designers to do such.

                                                                                                              Even my oldest and dearest client, who grew up writing HTML in the very earliest days of the Internet, wants everything in PDF. She can write the HTML in NotePad, with the best of them, but knows that the ultimate clients do not need that.

                                                                                                              When I design a Web site, that will need updating, I always go with PDF's, and even the most dense client, can manage the PDF's from Word, or similar. If I told them that they would, or should, have to learn HTML, they would run me down the road, and well they should.

                                                                                                              I just do not understand some folks' adherence to HTML for everything. It does not make sense to me.


                                                                                                        2. how about this site...


                                                                                                          at least it doesnt have a pdf menu...

                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: srsone

                                                                                                            The answer is actually quite simple. Since the internet only recognizes about 7 fonts, most restaurants' menus wont appear properly. Some sites will have a menu link in a web-safe font for viewing, while providing a .pdf for download. The .pdf will be the visual representation of the actual menu and allow you to view it as you would in the restaurant. This could also be accomplished with a .jpeg, but at 300dpi, the quality would be terrible. Flash has nothing to do with it.

                                                                                                            1. re: almansa

                                                                                                              I think you meant "at 72 dpi"? The print standard is 300 dpi.

                                                                                                              1. re: odkaty

                                                                                                                If the document starts out as text (not as an image scan) and is converted, usually the font files are just embedded within the PDF and then render correctly regardless of DPI. Either way, if I see a PDF menu, I usually click back and am on to the next.

                                                                                                                1. re: noeltock


                                                                                                                  I know the ins and outs of pdfs. I was just responding to "at 300dpi, the quality would be terrible."

                                                                                                                  1. re: odkaty

                                                                                                                    Responded to yours by mistake, not questioning your PDF knowledge, no worries ;)

                                                                                                                    1. re: noeltock

                                                                                                                      Ahhhh. I was terribly confused!

                                                                                                                      1. re: odkaty

                                                                                                                        Sorry, at 72 dpi. My website is one that has a quick view menu in Verdana and Times. My .pdf menu for printing, however, is in Centaur, more or less.

                                                                                                            2. re: srsone

                                                                                                              No, it doesn't even have a menu at all.
                                                                                                              Just a huge lump of psychedelic images and what looks like a mountain of marijuana leaves.

                                                                                                              Where on earth did you find this, srsone?

                                                                                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                i found it linked in a story about horrible web designs for restaurants...

                                                                                                                im not the only one complaining about pdf and bad websites ...i found lots and lots and lots of articles about it....

                                                                                                                1. re: srsone

                                                                                                                  Are the articles in pdf form? :) Short blog type articles aren't in pdf, but serious academic ones usually are. Longer newspaper articles are split over 3 or more pages with lots of advertising.

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    no they were all over the place tho...
                                                                                                                    some newspapers...found some on the boston globe i think it was..
                                                                                                                    some blogs..
                                                                                                                    some food sites...
                                                                                                                    i googled bad restaurant websites..15 million hits..
                                                                                                                    and alot of the complaints...flash and overly large/annoying pdf menus..

                                                                                                                    so its not just me

                                                                                                                    1. re: srsone

                                                                                                                      Your google results aren't exactly indicative of a larger problem as you suggest they are.

                                                                                                                        1. re: srsone

                                                                                                                          They are what are generally referred to as "false positives." It's probably a bit complex.

                                                                                                              2. re: srsone

                                                                                                                Not sure what we were supposed to see, but that site gave me a bad headache, even after it loaded. I cannot imagine what the designer was thinking, or drinking, or smoking.

                                                                                                                Just so very bad, and at many levels.

                                                                                                                What was supposed to be there? Whatever it was, I flat missed it, but the design was so very bad, that I wanted to go no further.


                                                                                                              3. I love reading menus, but online reading can be an issue. I appreciate restaurants that offer pdf's. I can download them and read them at my leisure.

                                                                                                                What chaps my butt when it comes to restaurant websites is when music starts automatically playing.

                                                                                                                Don't know why, but it seems (among non-music related sites) only restaurants do this. It's a total pain... when researching an area I will open tons of tabs and all of a sudden music starts playing. It's a hassle to have to track it down, and often there will not be an obvious way to turn it off.

                                                                                                                Besides, how dare someone else decide what I want to listen to? Often I will already have music of my choice playing and when something else kicks in (unless I am in a Charles Ives mood... which is hardly ever) it becomes totally irritating.

                                                                                                                And guess what... if a restaurant site does it, they go to the top of my list of places I will not patronize.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                                                                                  When I hear music start playing, I close the tab and the place most likely just lost a potential customer.

                                                                                                                  You don't see it too much anymore, as browsers typically protect against this sort of maliciousness, but the same is true if a site resizes my window or anything like that (which used to be a favorite of resto sites). I'll never give business to anyone that resizes my browser.

                                                                                                                  1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                                                                                    I also hate websites that play music automatically - I wouldn't say it's a deal-breaker, but certainly a minus and an annoyance.

                                                                                                                    1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                      I do appreciate the musical ones that give me a button to turn it off. I just wish they'd show the button FIRST.

                                                                                                                  2. I get annoyed if there is no pdf version.

                                                                                                                    1. I'm just happy when a restaurant website has a menu posted. I could care less about the formatting. I find it more annoying when the posted menu has no prices or is way out of date.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                        Wow, I second those pet peeves. Get my mouth watering for a dish I see on the menu then, when I get to the restaurant they tell me they haven't served it in a year.
                                                                                                                        And one of the reasons I look for a menu online is to see what their prices are like.

                                                                                                                      2. HTML and Flash are a pain to manage and handle for non-technical persons (even very intelligent ones),

                                                                                                                        The workflow to be able to update and maintain menus for a somewhat complex restaurant web site will be so complex that restaurant owners will never ever update their web sites (hence all the bad out of date and plainly wrong restaurant web sites).

                                                                                                                        Setting up a workflow to update a single document from Word (or any equivalent word processing of your choice) to PDF to Web and print is quite simple to setup, even for smaller restaurants.

                                                                                                                        Anyway, today a lot of newer restaurants will post simple text menus on twitter or facebook.


                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Maximilien

                                                                                                                          Fair point, but the website isn't for the restaurant owner, it's for the consumer ;) There are plenty of tools to manage your food menus online nowadays so I don't see it. And besides, why lock yourself out from the entire iPad / iPhone community?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Maximilien

                                                                                                                            "HTML and Flash are a pain to manage and handle for non-technical persons (even very intelligent ones),"

                                                                                                                            HTML is ridiculously easy to learn & maintain. It should take all but the biggest moron no more than 5 minutes to learn basic HTML - and if their web designers did their job properly, they need know nothing more than the most basic of HTML.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                              From one IT person to another: don't be such a snob. You know perfectly well that most people have absolutely no concept of even basic HTML. They're not IT wonks designing these websites; most of the ones people complain about are homegrown (a look at the available templates on register.com or godaddy.com will tell you all you need to know, apparently).

                                                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                And from a keyboard-challenged person who has used HTML, I had to give it up because I could never grasp its narrative, and I simply cannot keyboard non-narrative lines quickly or reliably. The high point of my web-design efforts (which I actually did for money!) was when I was paired with an HTML wiz, and I'd design the page in Photoshop and shoot it to him. Then twenty minutes later I'd get a browser-ready page back. Damn, that was fun …

                                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                  Show me someone who can't learn *basic* HTML in 5-10 minutes, and I'll show you someone who isn't even smart enough to flip burgers. Note I'm talking just the very basic stuff, IE all one would need to know in order to simply update the text in an online HTML menu - that task shouldn't include anything more than writing text and perhaps basic markup like bold/italic.

                                                                                                                                  I'm not saying that it takes 5 mins to pick up CSS, I'm not even saying it'd take 5 minutes to figure out how to make a table, but if someone showed them "here's how you add an item", "here's how you remove an item" and "here's how you edit an item", that should take no more than 5 minutes.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                    I had no trouble learning HTML, I just had a major problem using it. People's heads do not all work the same way; it's not a question of intelligence, but of the connection between intellect and fingers. I was working in a room full of programmers and developers, a couple of whom had built their first computer before they were out of grade school, but because I could create and send them anything from shiny buttons to complete page designs in Photoshop, and in minutes for some things, they thought *I* was the wizard!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                                      Fine, you got me. It takes a PhD to make some minute edits on a web page. I don't know why I thought I've seen 4 year olds managing to do it, clearly it's a tricky thing.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                        jgg13 is right. Every business owner should be able to spend 5 minutes to learn how to manage a website. I mean that's their core business, right?

                                                                                                                                    2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                      What an incredibly rude statement. I can think of dozens—no, hundreds—of people who are perfectly intelligent yet are not in the least bit technical. I work with them every day.

                                                                                                                                      It's also patently obvious that you've never worked in a restaurant. A task which takes fifteen to thirty minutes to do (write PDF, save it to website) takes much longer to do in HTML (unless you use Word's save-to-HTML "feature", which... ugh...).

                                                                                                                                      I don't object to PDFs; I just object to PDFs that are ridiculously huge.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                        Once again, you miss my point as I'm talking about the most basic of operations, not some sort of AJAX wizardry. I can teach anyone basic HTML in a matter of seconds - and by basic I mean things like "bold". If someone can figure out how to click the "B" in Word, they can figure out how to type "<b>".

                                                                                                                                        And if they can't, well, those are the people that I'm disparaging.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                          The most basic of operations in HTML still takes less time than creating the file (in Word or whatever) that you need for the menu boards and converting it to PDF, often by "printing" using Distiller or whatever.

                                                                                                                                          Now, they could save it as HTML from Word, which creates a functional but inelegant page, but this presupposes it's a separate (or embedded) page, which is not good design.

                                                                                                                                          You overestimate not only the technical prowess of the menu poster (do you really think it's the chef? Many times it's the host desk's job, with all the turnover that can mean) but also the interest in doing it. I've tried to teach people basic HTML before. They don't want to learn "code". They want a big green button that says "Publish To My Website" and the closer their IT consultant gets to that, the happier they are.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                            Ugh... I can't edit on a mobile device. I meant basic HTML tagging takes MORE time than creating a PDF. There's a reason WordPerfect has buttons for bold, etc., even though it's a standard, straightforward markup language.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                              Fine, do a google search for "wysiwyg html editor". In fact, I think I only got a few letters in before it autocompleted that search. There, there's your buttons.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                                Congratulations. One person down (except that I write what little HTML I need to in vi), seventy thousand restaurateurs to go. Good luck.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                              my parents are very intelligent people, an engineer and a doctor. I doubt either one could learn HTML in a few minutes.

                                                                                                                                  2. http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-200...

                                                                                                                                    at least they are trying to make it better/easier

                                                                                                                                    1. I love them. I can download the PDF and print it easily.

                                                                                                                                      Now, I use a dozen Adobe programs daily, so work with PDF's very frequently.

                                                                                                                                      I'd rather have a current PDF, than an old HTML any day, but that might just be me.


                                                                                                                                      1. PDFs are the best way to post menus online (or share any documents for that matter). I'd say that Microsoft WORD files are the _worst_ way to share such things, and HTML markup language runs a close second.
                                                                                                                                        I use PDF files a lot because when I create the document, I know that whoever opens it up (or accesses it on the web) will be seeing it formatted exactly as I have laid it out, regardless of what platform or operating system they're using. Once Microsoft wises up and builds PDF read write access into the Windows operating system (as Apple did 10 years ago with MacOS) things will be much better.
                                                                                                                                        I'm not a big Adobe fan, but PDF is one thing that they actually got right...and even moreso when they made the spec available a few years ago _for free_ as an open format.

                                                                                                                                        PDF is your friend. It has long been a standard, and will be even moreso as more developers take advantage of its free status.

                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                          "I know that whoever opens it up (or accesses it on the web) will be seeing it formatted exactly as I have laid it out, regardless of what platform or operating system they're using"

                                                                                                                                          IMO, that's *NOT* a good thing. One thing about HTML/CSS is that *I* can choose to override various things to suit my fancy. Just because some restaurant owner thinks that they're really clever because they've got something in a horrible font, doesn't mean that I should have to live with it.

                                                                                                                                          "Once Microsoft wises up and builds PDF read write access into the Windows operating system (as Apple did 10 years ago with MacOS) things will be much better"

                                                                                                                                          On that point I agree. I love the PDF integration in OSX

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                            In most cases, it is not the "restaurant owner," but a skilled graphic designer, who has done the layout, and furnished a template to the client.


                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                              I know that, and that's exactly the point that I'm making. They've made the basic template and all the owner (or whomever) has to do is make basic edits.

                                                                                                                                              I'd completely disagree with "skilled graphic designer" though, generally restaurants have the *worst* websites on the planet. I figure most of the designers of these pages are either in grade school or learned the trade from a "for dummies" book.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                                                Well, that depends on the restaurant, doesn't it?

                                                                                                                                                Some hire professionals, and some do not. That is their individual problem.


                                                                                                                                        2. PDF's like any other tool have limitations, which is why I don't believe this is such a black & white discussion (i.e. PDF or XHTML).

                                                                                                                                          I (as Web Designer/Developer & owner of Theme-Force.com) advise my clients to use an 'end result' of XHTML/CSS, and if they see it as beneficial, to also support it with PDF's (but never the other way around).

                                                                                                                                          There are numerous reasons why I go that route:

                                                                                                                                          PDF is a stand-alone file, not a web language

                                                                                                                                          - Doesn't work on iPhones & iPads (without having to install additional apps). I just checked one of my clients sites and 75%+ of traffic came from an iPhone, iPad or iPod. That segment would not be able to read the PDF menu of a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                          PDF's are not just save & upload

                                                                                                                                          - File sizes needs to be optimized. In theory, easy, but in practice not done the majority of the time (i.e. image compression, smart usage of custom fonts, etc.)

                                                                                                                                          - Meta data and structure needs to be optimized for search engines. Same as above, not done enough unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                          Search Engine Optimization - XHTML vs. PDF

                                                                                                                                          Sure PDF's can get indexed too, but I had a few clients switch over to a more structured & semantic solution (i.e. XHTML) and increase their traffic for food & location phrases (i.e. Key Lime Pie - Los Angeles). This has been further confirmed by Matt Cutts from the Google Search Team ( http://www.stonetemple.com/articles/i... ):

                                                                                                                                          " Eric Enge: What about PDF files?

                                                                                                                                          Matt Cutts: We absolutely do process PDF files. I am not going to talk about whether links in PDF files pass PageRank. But, a good way to think about PDFs is that they are kind of like Flash in that they aren't a file format that's inherent and native to the web, but they can be very useful. In the same way that we try to find useful content within a Flash file, we try to find the useful content within a PDF file. At the same time, users don't always like being sent to a PDF. If you can make your content in a Web-Native format, such as pure HTML, that's often a little more useful to users than just a pure PDF file. "

                                                                                                                                          Search Engine Optimization - Microdata

                                                                                                                                          With the increasing use of rich data (i.e. Schema.org, Google Rich Snippets, Facebook OpenGraph, etc.), there are more and more opportunities for search engines to fully understand the content on your website. Today, you can code your restaurant & menu ( http://schema.org/Restaurant ), and god knows what you'll be able to do tomorrow (some interesting open source concepts have evolved, such as OpenMenu).

                                                                                                                                          Schema.org for example is based upon the HTML5 Microdata specification. Seeing as data can be nested using microdata, it won't be long before we have the capability to mark up complete menus in full detail (i.e. menu item, category, sizes, prices, special attributes, i.e. vegetarian).

                                                                                                                                          At the end of the day, by using microdata formatting, you're making your data portable and also futureproofing it. If an authority such as Yelp, Menupages, Urbanspoon or otherwise decides to start automatically importing your content in the future, this will be the way they will do it.


                                                                                                                                          In summary, by limiting yourself to PDF's (note: limit, I'm not saying you need to be exclusive to anything) you're in effect hindering how accessible your data is, how much traffic it will generate for you (this will only become more important) and the sort of additional exposure you can garner through 3rd party sites (Yelp, etc.. as mentioned above). Whilst plenty love the ability to have PDF's, plenty more despise it (as witnessed by the Oatmeal's article retweeted 4'400+ times, shared on Facebook 13'000+ times, etc.).

                                                                                                                                          Your primary method of displaying your food menu should be HTML5 with the relevant industry mark-up.

                                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: srsone

                                                                                                                                              The moment I first saw that oatmeal, I was 100% in agreement with matthew inman here. Granted, I typically completely agree with the oatmeal anyways :)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: noeltock

                                                                                                                                              sheesh, is this thread still kicking around?!! PDF's work just fine with iphone and ipad without any additional manipulation...or maybe I have the magic editions

                                                                                                                                              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                yes it is...


                                                                                                                                                Hunt went and answered a bunch of posts and started a nerd fight...so it popped back up again...

                                                                                                                                                and i dont do apple....

                                                                                                                                                1. re: noeltock

                                                                                                                                                  "- Doesn't work on iPhones & iPads (without having to install additional apps). I just checked one of my clients sites and 75%+ of traffic came from an iPhone, iPad or iPod. That segment would not be able to read the PDF menu of a restaurant."

                                                                                                                                                  I never had a problem reading PDFs on mine (3G, 4 and iPad). I have no issues with PDF menus, only when they are stupidly large files. Also with sites that use flash with no other way to access the info. I don't have a personal preference but agree whichever format results in the most up to date info is best.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hsk

                                                                                                                                                    As PDF files can be used for many things, doing a high-rez version for printing, when Web viewing is required, is just plain poor designing, on the Web designer's part.

                                                                                                                                                    A PDF can have good layout, all the necessary test, and still be very small.Otherwise, someone has messed up. Just my humble opinion.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                      Absolutely agree! About a year ago I was in Chicago googling for places near the Hilton to dine - found an interesting place a couple of blocks away on S Michigan and clicked on the menu, waited, waited - the menu was 2 MB! Never saw that before, most pdf menus are under 100 k. My data roaming package was 10 MB so I went over on that trip. Fortunately the food was very good.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hsk

                                                                                                                                                        As there are so many possible "levels" of PDF's, it is incumbent on the designer to instruct the folk in charge of upkeep, or as a lesson to themselves - few will want to print out a high-rez version - make it very, very Web friendly.

                                                                                                                                                        They possibly just went with the version that they sent out to the commercial printer (or maybe to the desktop printer?), and never realized that anyone on the Web would never get the danged thing. Gotta' plan for download. Having high-rez images and the most crisp fonts possible, is meaningless to the Web users.


                                                                                                                                                2. It annoys me too. Unless the menu changes very frequently, and then I'm willing to download the file. It might be sort of annoying to keep changing the code, especially if it's a small restaurant that paid someone to make their website but doesn't have anyone who maintains it. But the bar down the street that has had the same menu for 5 years and has the buggiest, slowest-loading pdf file ever? Yeah, annoying.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                    But who needs to access a 5yr old bar menu? :)

                                                                                                                                                  2. Yup. Totally annoying.