Restaurant Web Site Menus: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
At a bare minimum, a restaurant web site needs to convey 3 things: the restaurant’s contact number, the restaurant’s address, and the restaurant’s menus.
For the most part, phone numbers and addresses are simple enough to convey as text. Menus, not so much. There are a few ways of displaying menus correctly (and incorrectly). Lets go through the various types to explain the pros and cons to each.
Let’s start with the ugly: PDFs
PDF’s are a big no-no for so many reasons.
Say you’re out on the town with a few of your friends and you want something great to eat. You find a restaurant that is highly reputable and go to check out their site. All looks well and good until you go to see what’s actually on the menu. You’re prompted with a link, you go to click on it and BAM, you find yourself downloading a 6mb file right to your phone. This is going to take forever to download so you close the site, and go on to find another. That restaurant has just lost a customer.
The same can happen with a desktop computer. You click a link to view the menu and a PDF downloads right to your computer when you didn’t even want it to. You’ll have to go find that file and open it, just to view a simple menu. (Assuming, of course, that they have the plug-in to view it.)
It’s easy to understand why restaurants want PDF menus: Since their in-restaurant menus are printed from a PDF, they’ll save time by just uploading that same PDF to their site. They’ll save time, but lose customers. Frankly, website content should never use downloadable PDF’s unless unless it’s intended to be printed out ( eg: catering specs & forms).
Now for the bad: JPEG images.
JPEGS are slightly better than PDF’s because they don’t need to be downloaded but they are still a hinderance on the end user.
For example, you’ve already skipped the restaurant with the downloadable PDF and have found another site that looks promising. You go to view the menu and you come face to face with this large image that’s a JPEG version of the PDF. Now you must zoom in until the document is readable and then scroll left to right, up and down to view portions of the menu. Somewhat of a bother considering you’re thinking of eating there and just want to simply see what’s on the menu. If there are multiple pages, you’re really in trouble. Updating is the same as a PDF which is time consuming and unneccesary You decide to skip this restaurant as well.
Then there’s the good: Text
A text based menu within a CMS ( Content Management System ). With a text based CMS menu, all the items, prices and descriptions will be right there. No weird scrolling, no downloading and especially fast download time. All what your client is looking for. Updates are a breeze considering the CMS and changes can be done in seconds.
Choosing how you present information, especially menus, on your website is an invaluable asset to your business and should be done correctly. The ease in which customers can access that information determines their overall impression of your business even before they walk in.