Why Are Restaurant Websites So Terrible?

I started rSquare with only one goal in mind...to help small businesses create a beautiful website affordably.  One industry that could obviously use a proverbial shot in the arm are restaurants.  After scouring hundreds (literally) of restaurant websites - I came to one glaring conclusion - most of them stink.

But why?  So I did a bit of digging and found these typical responses.

  • I can't afford a good website designer.
  • I don't understand what people want in a website.
  • I don't really care about what's on my website.
  • We are not in the business of website design.  Our expertise is in the kitchen.

I get it.  But, as a result, there is such an imbalance between a restaurant's food / atmosphere and their website.  This should hardly be the case.  A restaurant's website is their digital storefront - it is there to create the same impression as their physical location among would be diners.

What restauranteurs don't realize is that they are losing business (a lot of it).  For each visitor to a site that is disengaging and unresponsive, you can most certainly chalk up another loss in potential business.

What to do?

First, decide you are going make an investment into your website.  How much is all up to you. But beware of the unscrupulous designer - there should be no surprises.  Remember, extras tend to add up quickly.  Get it all in writing before any work begins - demand a statement of work (SOW). Designers hate them but they are invaluable to you - the client.

Second, decide on what's important.  What do you want from your website?  A good website designer should be able to articulate this for you if they understand your business (that's what your paying them for, isn't it).  Your website should do at the very least the following:

  • Describe (visually and thru copy) what your restaurant is all about.
  • How does a visitor make a reservation (are they even required).
  • Tell them how to get there (clearly).
  • Most importantly, what is that you serve (please no PDF pop-up menus).

Your website should be thoughtfully laid out to create a great impression and an exceptional user experience.  Your website design should be a beautiful representation of the restaurant's atmosphere and experience...period!