Restaurant Websites That Make You NOT Want To Eat

Categories: Complaint Desk

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You've seen this guy, right? Peanut butter jelly time is the number one indicator of poor website design. Sparkling mouse trailers, glimmering lights, dancing bananas -- these are the hallmarks of your 13-year-old daughter's MySpace page. Poorly chosen music played in a loop, excessive flash and clunky navigation also indicate websites that may have been developed by a novice instead of a seasoned designer. This becomes especially annoying when looking at restaurant web pages, a time when you're actually trying to get information from the Internet instead of checking out Suzie's favorite Popsicle flavor.

Any restaurant contemplating a new website or thinking about making changes to an existing website ought to check out Warren Buffet's website. The official website of Berkshire Hathaway is a simple design, coded in plain old html. An address is listed at the top center of the page. Links to reports, meeting notices, SEC filings and a message from Buffet follow. A small and unobtrusive GEICO ad frames the bottom. And you're done.

When I visit a restaurant website, I want to know four things. Hours of operation, location, a basic understanding of the menu and whether your brunch comes with bottomless Bloody Marys. Everything else is just a distraction from the information I need if I'm going to visit a restaurant. Here are three websites who really punch it in the nuts.

WARNING: Opening all three links at the same time may cause bleeding from the ears.


Mary's Southern Cuisine and Entertainment

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This site starts off well enough.The address is in the lower left corner and will link you to a mapping service. The menu only takes one click to get to, and the hours are posted as well. The white text on black background is a little JV, but it's the music that really gets me. The modern jazz tracks may have been lifted from a '80s porn movie. Now you're picturing the hedgehog when you should be thinking fried chicken.


Blue Fish Sushi

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The Blue Fish website is noisy at first. The website lists six locations all over Texas with big colorful bubbles. If I'm looking for sushi in Dallas, I don't care about a location in Houston. Clicking on a location takes you off the Blue Fish server and into the Internet (Google, Bing and Mapquest), a resource the restaurant doesn't control. The house music speaks for itself.


Nandina

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It takes multiple clicks to find any information beyond happy hour and the musical back drop is a super untzy trance. What does this tell us about Nandina? That it's a great place to hang out with Swedish douche bags who like their sushi on the cheap.

Follow City of Ate on Facebook & Twitter. Follow me at @scottreitz


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12 comments
Arno
Arno

I am surprised you didn't let your "very own" Jonas Luster write this piece given that he's the douche who started this restaurant website bitchfest five years ago at SXSW. I'd rather be served good food then good websites.

JesseHughey
JesseHughey

My pet peeve is when you're forced to download a PDF just to look at the menu. Give the menu its own page, don't make me download it. Because chances are I won't bother, which also means I'm less likely to go to your restaurant at all.

Ryan
Ryan

Word Press was made for Restaurants.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Meh..I generally scout restaurants at work..but anyone who owns one that doesn't cater towards a iphong is a dumbass...

Let's go Rangers! And Horns!

seabird20
seabird20

I couldn't agree more. The biggest cardinal sin for me is having any music at all on the front page of the site. If I am sitting at work, looking for somewhere to take a client for dinner, I don't want to open up a site that plays loud, distracting music. It just is not cool in the office to do that!

Also don't try to guess where I am from my IP address. That annoys me too. By all means do it from the GPS device in my vehicle - but remember location based content is a double edged sword. I know my intent (looking for a place in Houston next week) and your site doesn't.

Yes the site is an extension of the vibe your place exudes. If you want to make it look like a dump, have a site that looks like a dump. If you want it to be classy, have a classy site.

remember that sometimes we look at these things with small screens. I don't have to get out my mega reading glasses to grock your site.

I could go on, but I am hungry... Won't go to any of the above because the site alone has cured my desire to eat.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Most people who run restaurants are usually not too savvy when it comes to web design, thats why they hire their chefs kid brother/sister/cousin to do the site, because they built their own using iWeb in OSX. I've seen many restaurants just bypassing a standard website and just setting up a facebook presence as it hits more people and can be updated w/ less hassles and more effiency, not to mention it works on mobile devices..

McDoom
McDoom

Another restaurant website cardinal sin: too much Flash. Yes, I would like to skip the intro. I don't care about all the superfluous animation on the page. And if you're not smart enough to have a mobile enabled site, I can't view anything on my Adobe hating iPhone. I think The Oatmeal did a comic that summed this all up in a much funnier way. Go Rangers

Jonas M Luster
Jonas M Luster

You are wrong, Arno. First, I didn't start it, smarter people like me were already on that ball, albeit less vocally. Second, the "Restaurant Website Drinking Game" was six years ago at SXSW but didn't get any traction until the 2008 post.

Lastly, if you're the Arno whose website consists of a badly made MS Paint image you deserved all the ridicule I heaped onto you.

And lastly lastly, I am flattered when great people like Scott get inspired by me :)

Gipson
Gipson

"chefs kid brother/sister/cousin"

So true. I work for a web design, marketing and SEO company, and while we have done the occasional restaurant over the years, in that industry more than any other, everybody "knows a guy."

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Restaurants are obsessed with Flash, or Flash coders are obsessed with going after restaurant website business, I'm not sure. But it does signal a clueless restaurant that doesn't make a site friendly to iOS and mobile devices in general.

Mark
Mark

Also, they don't want to use your company. Chefs can smell bullshit further than any other and your industry FU*&*N REEKS!

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