Thursday, March 22, 2012

The best restaurant website in the world

I often search for restaurants online, and I'm not alone. It is convenient to find places at home, look up their menu beforehand, and ensure that the place is open.

Far too often, restaurant websites are unusable. They fall into the trap of doing too much and trying to make an artistic statement when they should be all about functionality. Before we go over to the world's best restaurant website, let's look at the cardinal rules of restaurant websites.
  1. Be short.  Your customer has little time to make the decision. Restaurant websites should load quickly. Forget pictures, reviews, maps. The customer can look those up separately. They're coming to your website for just the facts. Give it to him, quickly.
  2. State the location. Location is everything. Where the hell are you? The customer is online, and is certainly not at your location. Tell him where you are.
  3. State the hours. Are you open right now? Are you closed on Mondays? Tell me now before I make the long trek up to find you guys.
  4. No flash, no music. Your website is a signboard, not a concert. And the signboard better be visible on mobile phones and every computer in use. Don't let the website 'guy' convince you otherwise.
  5. Give your menu. Save the customer the hassle of finding out what you've got. It is better to disappoint the customer in his house than at your restaurant.
You might have noticed that all these are trivial to follow. As a bonus, these rules will ensure you spend less money developing your website. Of course, the website-maker 'guy' will try to convince you that you need some flashy music, some trendy layout and lots of words about the owner, links to reviews, fancy this and that. He is lying to make more money. Fancy websites are great for stuffing his resume and his wallet.

And as proof, I present the world's best restaurant website. The China Dragon restaurant in Morro Bay has followed every rule, and their website consists of one page. All the facts and no bullshit.

You could claim that it is a cheap site with boring lettering. And you'd be right. It is a damn cheap site with boring lettering that loads fast even on slow networks. It gives all the information in a single page and doesn't waste my time. Its website loaded up faster than the three other restaurants I was considering.

You attract customers by giving customers what they want.

(Image courtesy: China Dragon in Morro Bay).