Restaurant Websites: Fun or Flawed?

Restaurant-WebsitesThe San Francisco Chronicle‘s Michael Bauer shines a spotlight today on restaurant websites, pointing out the aspects that are most frustrating to him as a diner. His primary complaints are the lack of a current menu and the difficulty in locating a restaurant’s hours of operations. What I find vexing are Flash introductions (often with silly music!) and menus being available only as PDFs (I fear my MacBook will soon burst into flames from all the menu PDFs sitting idly in my “downloads” folder).

What frustrates you most about restaurant websites? And, what are some examples of the very best restaurant websites? Chime in here or on Facebook, and check back for our expert tips on creating an effective, diner-friendly restaurant website.


  1. says

    PDFs fill me with white hot rage. Flash just as bad. Frames, horizontal scrolling, unfamiliar scroll bars…

    The phone number and hours of operation should be on every page. An email or twitter name would be nice, too.

  2. James Gerber says

    I like: PDF menu file with up to date items and prices, Pictures of dishes, dress code, working email address, feedback page (feedbacks must be actually read and, if needed, responded to), credit cards accepted

    I dislike: menus without prices, no mention of specials, out of date information, unreadable menus, no way to contact, no information on reservations, dress code, etc.

  3. Chris P. says

    How about:

    * Not having menus at all
    * Having outdated/inaccurate menus
    * Posting menus as JPEGs or some other impossible-to-read format
    * Not having address and/or contact info (believe it or not, a surprising number of sites lack this!)
    * Having content that’s months or years out of date
    * Lacking photos of the location and/or food
    * Being generally dull

  4. says

    MUST HAVE: Up-to-date information! Easy-to-find location (click for map), contact info, payment options accepted, hours. Menu, in HTML, with prices, of core menu.

    NICE TO HAVE: Full menu, in PDF, up-to-date. Specials. Pictures of interior, exterior, dishes, staff. Info on chef (if applicable).

  5. Max Hauser says

    I wonder how many people who design them grasp how off-putting it is to check a restaurant Web site for basic information, and be obliged to wait through some high-concept “Flash-trash” opening graphics irrelevant to the reason for viewing the site? (Worse, be told to install the latest-hippest Flash software update in order to have the privilege!)

    One excellent independent restaurant in my region, which I’ve booked through OpenTable, did that, but made things worse by omitting some basic information from its site (like business hours). The delay for tedious graphics was therefore an empty triumph of form over function. I mentioned all this, a few years ago, to the general manager, who acknowledged the site was designed by a contractor. I’ve just checked the same site again, and its home page now is some graphic that, unlike almost all restaurant sites I check, won’t display unless you relax some standard browser security settings. Another case study in customer turn-off. (That current site design, incidentally, is credited to “Braincloud media.” Credit where due.)


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