4 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Fail

I’m going to tell you 4 things that make restaurant websites bad.

(Just bad bad baddy bad.)

Before I get right into it, if you are a restaurant owner and you are reading this, I’m going to make you a special offer. You may not have a site, you may have one, shoot, you might even like the one you have. Regardless, you’ll probably want to consider it. I’ll get to the details below.

I live in Durango, CO. It’s a small tourist town with a lot of out-of-town visitors who will be searching for places to eat, so at the end of this post, I’ll show you how 10 local restaurants in the area stack up.

1. It is rare to find a site that actually shows photos of the interior or the atmosphere. On rare occasion, you’ll find one, and usually it is very small. Often the best I can do is look under the delicious plate and observe “well, they have nice tables”. If I am considering going to your restaurant, beyond the food, I want to know if I actually want to be inside your establishment.

2. The photos that do exist, whether of food or the establishment, are regularly small.

3. Menus are only available on PDF. There’s really no reason for this. Often times a restaurant’s menu is on a PDF because this is how they print them, but it’s a disservice not to have it transcribed into HTML. This is a one time task and then changes will be far easier to make on the site than the PDF. PDFs on mobile are bad. Nearly every PDF is not made for the mobile viewing experience: text is small and you have to pan around. Additionally, they can be MEGABYTES to download, which is unnecessary and a pain in low bandwidth areas.

4. Does the restaurant take reservations? Does the restaurant require reservations? Most of the time you just won’t find out until you call.

Ten Durango Restaurant Rankings

RestaurantInterior PhotosLarge Photo sizesNon-PDF MenusReserv. Clarity
Ore HouseFailPass
Still only food
Required or not?
Sow’s EarFailFailPassAdequate
Required or not?
Explicitly states to call for reservation
Mahogany GrilleFail
There is one, but it is tiny (not to mention the site is ancient)
Required or not?
Seasons Rotisserie & GrillPass (barely)
There is one, it is large, it does help
All other photos are tiny
Required or not?
Steamworks Brewing CompanyFail
There is only one small one
They are barely just large enough
PassBarely Adequate
There is a tiny little blip on the contact page that explains they don’t take reservations
Unfortunately, the photos that do exist do not give justice to the very cool atmosphere this restaurant offers
PassFailBarely Adequate
There is a tiny little blip on the contact page
El Moro TavernPassPassPassAdequate
Required or not?
East by SouthwestPassPassPassBarely Adequate
There is a tiny little blip on the contact page
* Ken and Sue’sFail?Pass? – what’s there is largeNANA

View in landscape to read descriptions in the table.

* = This is a popular restaurant that I did not want to ignore, but their website says “coming soon”, so they get an asterisk for now.

When I set out to write this post, I did not imagine that the restaurants that performed best were also the restaurants that I enjoyed the most when it came to food, service and the overall experience. Perhaps paying attention to details on a website is a good indicator of other restaurant qualities.

What about that offer?

Ok, so none of this is binding until we have a signed contract. That is how we do business. I need to reserve the right to change or cancel the offer at any time because of things like inflation, earthquakes, etc. Also, you have to do your part by providing the correct information and photography. I know a good photographer if you need one. Here’s the offer:

For $399, we’ll build you a website (that is also mobile/responsive) with your logo, color scheme, and up to five pages, such as home, menu, about, contact/reservations, events? (whatever you want). We’ll populate the pages for you with the data you provide (in PDF or doc form). Any future iterations / changes will cost extra, but you will easily be able to make text and image changes as a non-tech person. You’ll also have to host with us, which includes all the latest security measures, hacking protection, daily backups, and more.