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Pet Peeves: Restaurant Websites
I’m sure a lot of you foodies spend quite a bit of time on your computers and smartphones looking up restaurants, both when you’re traveling far from home and when you’re scouting out new haunts in your own neck of the woods. Websites maintained by these restaurants can be very helpful for both the business itself and the customer, giving pertinent information such as specials, hours of operation, menu items, their street address and contact information.

But there are annoyances committed by some dining establishments that I’ve found to be a hindrance to getting the type of information needed by potential customers. These are my restaurant website pet peeves.

The following gripes are meant more for the stand-alone, single-location eateries. Restaurant chains, while they can commit some of these no-nos, usually are better about the user experience, are more professionally designed and often have their own webmaster.

1. Flash/music

I know you’re aiming to be trendier and cooler than the next site, but do we really need techno music, smooth jazz or world music blasting out of my computer speakers?

And Flash? C’mon, I couldn’t care less about some sloth-slow intro that’s trying to load up on my monitor. Just let me get the details I need and let me go on about my business. And when it comes to Flash on smartphones and mobile devices, it either doesn’t work on some (such as iPhones and iPads) or grinds the entire device to a snail-like crawl. Use HTML and text instead.

2. PDF menus

ARGH! For real, DON’T force me to download your 37MB PDF file just to be able to read what kind of dishes you serve. What’s worse, many sites I’ve seen have separate PDF files for appetizers, entrees, lunch specials, dinner specials, desserts and alcoholic beverages….ugh.

With the advent of simple-to-use CMS (Content Management Systems) on websites, it should be a breeze to add and edit menu items and their corresponding prices that will be displayed in good ol’ HTML. If a restaurant really needs to cater to those who refuse to move out of the dark ages who feel the need to have a printable menu, offer a separate PDF link for them, and have more intuitive HTML menus for those of us living in the 21st century.

3. Contact info that’s buried

Don’t make me hunt around for a street address or a phone number. Make it easy to find and easy to use. Which brings me to my next point…

4. When an address or phone number is an image or in Flash

Puh-LEEEZE! Make it easy for anyone to COPY AND PASTE an address into a mapping program. Better yet, make your address a clickable link to Google Maps. And if we’re on a mobile device, make the phone number copyable to paste and call (some phones will give you the option to call as soon as you tap on the number). Again, think ease of use for customers.

5. No way of making online reservations or orders

Granted, half the places I chow down at aren’t fancy-schmancy and don’t require reservations. Yet for those finer dining establishments that do, a physical phone call is often needed to reserve a table in advance. There are times when it’s difficult to reach the restaurant by phone, because it could be in the middle of a busy lunch or dinner hour, and even late at night or early in the morning. Open Table or some other form of online reservation could very easily alleviate this problem.

What about those establishments where I want to call in for carry-out food? A few large pizza chains have already nearly mastered the science of online ordering; why can’t other dining paces even have even a rudimentary process with which customers can order food on the web for pick-up?

What are your pet peeves when it comes to restaurant websites?

Does anything else get under your skin? Anything you feel that I left off of this list that should be included? Comment below and let me know!

Pet Peeves: Restaurant Websites