The Problem With Restaurant Websites



I’ve long been a proponent of the view that if a technology is to be used, it should be done deliberately, with intelligent restraint, and with purpose. What’s more, it should not be used for reasons such as abstract trendiness or at the expense of general usability. You can have impact without beating your audience over the head.

What follows is a recounting of one man’s frustration at the restaurant industry’s infatuation with Flash. Enjoy.

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A conversation I have every month or so

Me: (tries to visit a local restaurant’s website via iPhone)
Restaurant website: I require Flash. F**k off.
Me: I just want to know how late you’re open.
Website: Nope.
Me: But I’m on my phone. Don’t you have a little “HTML Version” link up in the corner or something?
Website: I’m ignoring you.
Me: What if I’m on my phone because I’m out, looking for a place to eat? Didn’t that ever occur to you?
Website: F**k entirely off.
Me: (gives up, switches to computer)
Website: Oh! Hi! What can I help you with today?
Me: What are your —
Website: Hang on, I’m loading the music.
Me: Really.
Website: You’ll love it. It’s “Girl from Ipanema” arranged for steel drum and keytar.
Me: No, you don’t have to —
Website: Loading…
Me: All I want is —
Website: I SAID DOT DOT DOT.
Me: (drums fingers on desk)
Website: There we go. Isn’t that nice? It’s… what’s the word. Ethnicky.
Me: What are your hours?
Website: Take a look at our menu! It’s a PDF of a screenshot of a scan of a Word document printed on a dishtowel. With fonts!
Me: I don’t care. What are your hours?
Website: Don’t worry, the menu loads in a new window so the music won’t stop. Can I show you some broken images?
Me: What. Are. Your. Hou. Rs.
Website: I… I don’t know.
Me: (goes to Denny’s)

Visit the Source: Venomous Porridge
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As much as I might be tempted to rail and ramble on about the detriments of Flash to concepts like website usability and UX (user experience), it somehow seems folly to think I could be quite as succinct or relateable as Mr. Wineman’s script above.

If you’re a restaurant owner, the next time a designer tries to sell you on an overpriced Flash site with all the bells and whistles… take a moment and think about the purpose your website actually serves. And think of Mr. Wineman. He could have been one of your best customers.

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