Save Flash for the kitchen

There’s a new restaurant opening up in DC. It sounds intriguing and like something I might want to write about, so I clicked over to the website to find out more. And that’s where I stopped. It’s no Jared Allen’s Sports Grill,* but… damn. All Flash, annoying music, terrible sound effects, and confusing navigation. So screw it.

I’m not going to name the place, because it’s just the latest example in a long line of bad restaurant websites and I don’t want to reward them with a link. But more generally, what is it about restaurants and bars that makes them so prone to unnavigable, unlinkable, incredibly annoying Flash designs? Do owners just not use the internet?

Flash websites may look good, but that’s all they do. And that lack of usefulness cuts down on a restaurant’s web presence. The page can take a long time to load. If a reviewer wants to write about his meal at a place, he can’t copy the text or even link to the menu. Search engines can’t pick up key phrases people may be looking for. Potential customers can’t even cut and paste the address into a map search to find out where it is. The only person who benefits is the designer, who collects a nice check and hands off a complicated but worthless relic that no one will ever visit more than once.

If I ever open a restaurant, I can’t promise you yet that it will have wonderful food, reasonable prices, or appealing decor. But I will promise you this: it will offer permanent links, text that you can copy and paste, and no annoying music.

For the comments, what restaurant sites do you hate? Who has a site that works? I nominate Rustico as an example of good design: lots of text, working links, and frequent updates, all while giving a good feel for the place’s look and tone. Throw in an RSS feed and event archives and they’re golden.

*The website’s broken now, sadly, which might actually be an improvement. It was a thing to behold.

Comments

  1. julie says:

    for the most part i think “good restaurant website” is an oxymoron. i can think of countless websites that utilize flash to a similar disadvantage you discuss.

    my favorite website thus far? momofuku’s. (http://www.momofuku.com) – simple, straightforward. i can’t vouch for the crazy momofuku ko reservation system – the jury’s still out on that for me.

    i’d also say that rustico has a few kinks to work out in their website. the main page has too much scrolling/information and the font is rendered largely in a computer screen-unfriendly serif font. but, you know, i’m nitpicky. it is definitely better than a flash monstrosity.

  2. Yoda says:

    Sadly, many geeks designing web sites use complex coding and flash as a sort of penis substitute. They are deficient down there so they attempt to make up for it by using and ultimately bragging about, the latest piece-of-crap, slow, confusing, crash-your-web-browser, programming language.

    I will never figure this behavior out. I can take ANY of these crappy web designs, and by using graphics and only html, and revamping the navigation links, and make the site a dream to use. I often do this after bringing an incompetent design created by some dickless nerd, to the owner of an eatery and ultimately become the new designer and maintainer of the new site. Business for them invariably improves; almost over night. And my bank account grows. Remember, when it comes to web design, think of KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid!

    Did I forget to mention how much I love these dickless incompetent computer nerd web designers?

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