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Belly wine bar's self indulgent, schizophrenic website...

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I was thinking of Belly for a multi-restaurant evening tour in the Kendall square area. Have you seen their website? A sample menu or a contact us link would be nice. Instead you get a mess of blog postings, unreadably small, to sort through.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think a website for a restaurant should provide the basic info a potential customer needs, and not some trendy design? Having spent 17 years as a web developer, and 3 decades as a foodie, I think I am in the ballpark.

Sounds like a recipe for another restaurant failure, pissing off customers when they are trying to learn about you? Before they even get in the door?

Cue the fanboys running to their defense in 3… 2…1...

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  1. I agree the website's a headache, but the menu can be found here:

    http://www.bellywinebar.com/post/5872...

    1 Reply
    1. re: addiez

      THANKS!

      Of course, its formatted in a way that is impossible to print….

    2. Also now that I'm looking at the menu - has anyone tried fondue night or three blind wines on Mondays or giochi games on Sundays?

      1. It's not the greatest website -- and having never visited the bar I'm no fanboy -- but I think you're being too harsh.

        Yes, it's not exceptionally user friendly, but the phone number and address are right on the main landing page (no need for a "contact us" link). The blog posts are a jumble and confusing, but after a few clicks you can get a sample menu.

        Again, I agree it's not ideal, but at least it's not an archaic Flash-based page with music running in the background and a slideshow that takes forever to load.

        1 Reply
        1. re: huuvola

          Agree with your last paragraph. A contact us link is basic stuff, not having it is saying we can't be bothered to answer your email.

        2. I completely agree, one of the worst resto web sites I've seen.

          Even when you find the menu, the type is so small, and doesn't size when you zoom, so it just gets blurry.

          fail

          3 Replies
          1. re: StriperGuy

            The menu zoomed in just fine for me when I clicked it in the link posted above. Did this get fixed? My browser is Firefox if that matters.

            1. re: Gordough

              my firefox zoomed just fine as well.

              1. re: Gordough

                So they used an Image of their menu, not a scaleable HTML laid out version. If you click through to the menu there is a decent image of the menu that zooms okay. Try zooming really large and it blurs.

                Start at the original page and zoom in (CTRL + on windows) and it is just a blurry mess.

            2. Looks like they used Tumblr for their website rather than actually use a website template suited to a restaurant... and whoever put the content up didn't exactly put a priority on "usable info".

              1. OMG that was a horrible experience.

                My head, she hurts!

                1. I have no opinion on Belly either way, but as a 17-year web developer, how much would you charge a restaurant to create their website?

                  Given that they're using Tumblr (free) and it's easy for anyone to post with it, they're evidently spending their money elsewhere (hopefully on the food and employees). Would you prefer them to have no website or a poor one?

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                    I don't see there being much excuse in 2014 for not making basic information about your restaurant available in a clear, concise, easy-to-find format, even on a free platform. The amount of time they spent assembling that confusing, barely-readable farrago easily could have been put to producing something clean and customer-friendly. It's just bad business to do otherwise.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      The basic info - address, the hours and a link to reservations are right there at the top. That seems pretty easy-to-find to me. It took me about 2 seconds of scrolling to find the menu, and unlike Stripey it resized fine for me.
                      I'm not surprised that the musty Chowheads around here don't understand the social media benefits of using Tumblr. Ask your kids to explain it.

                      1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                        I think I have a basic grasp of the benefits of social media. I'm not buying the Tumblr argument here. Belly's site is awful: it looks like a community center bulletin board, not the web presence of a serious business. And it looks even worse on a mobile platform like my iPhone, which I'd call a fatal mistake these days.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                          I understand social media AND web design. I also understand social media, web design UI design done poorly and that web site is a textbook example of how NOT to design a resto site.

                          1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                            "musty Chowheads" made my day.

                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                            far·ra·go
                            /fəˈrägō,-ˈrā-/
                            a confused mixture.
                            "a farrago of fact and myth about Abraham Lincoln"
                            synonyms:
                            hodgepodge, mishmash, ragbag, potpourri, jumble, mess, confusion, mélange, gallimaufry, hash, assortment, miscellany, mixture, conglomeration, medley

                          3. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                            I think the big complaint isn't that they're using Tumblr or any sort of aesthetic issue, it's that they made the bizarre decision to (a) use a Tumblr template meant for photographs and (b) filled it with tiny, unreadable screenshots of articles from various magazines. It would be really simple to simply feature their menu and some info or photos of the restaurant. That's something anyone could do in a few minutes with no web development background.

                            1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                              There are may free options out there that provide powerful, full fledged content managed management systems with free themes appropriate for restaurants. As for what I would charge, hard to say. Do you want a simple and direct, or lots of whiz band fancy design? Call it $1500- $4000 roughly, deepening on the answer. More design time = more money. If you go to one of the big downtown firms or to a "graphic Designer" masquerading as a web developer, triple those figures. I am not the cheapest, not the most overpriced.

                              Its simply a bad business decision to put ANY obstacle in the way of a potential customer getting the info that they want with the least effort. You lose viewers with each extra click, with every extra second they have to spend trying figure out how to get to what the want. This is not speculation, but the proof shown by hard analytic data.

                              I suspect that the site was not built by an experienced pro who could advice them on how to their website effectively. Form follows function always, but many folks out there sell form first, function be dammed. "It looks so cool". "but where are the sales"

                              Then they call me in.

                              1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                                Social Media and a website are two different, complimentary things. One of the biggest differences being that you can compleltly control the search engine optimization of your website, you cannot with your social media accounts (depending of the Social Media outlet in question).

                                Social Media is a must, as much as a properly designed website. The impact on Google search results alone, through poorly search engine optimizing a website, and not leveraging the free tools that Google provides can mean the loss of significant business. Never mind paid advertising.

                                I see other mistakes on their site as well, but we are crossing the line between commenting and consulting, and I need to make a living if I am going to patronize restaurants!

                              2. They're trying hard to be cute, which doesn't kill it for me. Misspelling Clark Gable's name is a kick in the shin, though...

                                Could do without the golden geometric background, but that's a quibble.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  jacques brel is wrong too.

                                2. lol, naturally, i went right to the wine list and within less than a second found 2 mis-spellings. le sigh.

                                  the contact info is right there, but otherwise the page is just like a bad pinterest. including press releases and links to events that are over a year old on the front page seems pretty stoopid and adds to the fluster-cuck feel of the whole thing.

                                  that all being said, have had excellent food there.

                                  1. I completely agree. and i have run across quite a few bad (or non existent) websites for restnts. It amazes me that the restnt owners could be so clueless. But then I think about the restnts of 3 very talented boston chefs who simply will not put their attention on their websites, and/or who refuse to pay someone to figure out how to post their actual menu, when it changes daily. I shrug and say to myself, some day in the near future, these things will change..... I just wish it would be sooner than later.

                                    1. Who is running/managing/consulting at Belly/Blue Room now? Is it still the same folks that cluelessly changed the concept of Area Four and hired friends who were also fired from Babs Lynch group?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Unfoodie

                                        area 4 and belly/blue room were never connected.

                                        barbara lynch is not involved with either project.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          No shit but whoever was/is consulting at Area Four was/is consulting at Belly/Blue Room came from Babs' group, hired friends from Babs' group, and turned Area Four for the worse.

                                          I was never impressed with Blue Room the few times I went years ago so I can't comment on their impact but Area Four use to be unique by carrying exclusively MA beers (now it's has beers from all over), draft or box wine (now they only have bottled wine which is absolutely stupid considering it's supposed to be a cafe like establishment), simple refreshing cocktails (they now have 6+ ingredient cocktails on the menu) and now they can't keep any other their employees.

                                          1. re: Unfoodie

                                            liz and nick have owned and operated blue room for many years. nick was part owner for even longer before that. they run belly as well.

                                            area 4 is a michael leviton (lumiere) project.

                                            none of these people worked for barbara.

                                            a bar program changing from opening concept to something different most likely means it wasn't working, for various reasons. they didn't do it to piss you off. it's also normal for opening staff to shake out.

                                            have always had great food and drinks at a4, so not sure what you're on about.

                                      2. I agree with you in that the website is confusing and hard to navigate. That said, at least they have a website. I'm still shocked by the number of restaurants that open with no website at all and months later still don't have the basics up (hours, contact, menu). I know opening a restaurant is stressful and demanding, but I would think a website should be a priority before opening night.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Klunco

                                          YES

                                        2. Well, regardless of the website, I went there anyway. I have to say it was wonderful. The staff, the vibe, the food and the wine, all done right. And as you might have guessed by now I am picky and I know the difference…

                                          It will be a new regular destination for me. Been looking for small plates and small pours done well in cool environs for a while in these parts.