Three Tips for Restaurant Web Sites in 2010: Check. Your. Info.

...all too often. (A good book, BTW.)
We here at the SFoodie international HQ are thankful that Flash intros and musical soundtracks died off in the mid-noughts, but too many San Francisco restaurant Web sites are riddled with errors and rickety site architecture. We spend a lot of time poring over restaurant sites looking for contact information, hours, owner and chef names, menus, and mission statements, and lately we've been surprised by how many sites still make this information hard or impossible to find.

We know you work 80 hours a week and may have limited understanding of XML, but please look over your site to make sure it contains all the info that customers want easy access to. Better yet, ask a few friends and customers, who have more of an outsider's point of view, to check out your site on their computers and smart phones.

Three tips to avoid annoying us:

1. Put all essential contact information on the home page. That means address, telephone number, and hours. Do not let your graphic designer convince you that you'll make a bigger visual impact by forcing your customers to hunt all over your site for basic info; small type will do the trick. Also, restaurant hours ― the most frequently hidden bit of info ― are not directions, reservations, or chef bios.

2. If you post a menu on your site, update it regularly. If not every day, every week. Or at least once a season. Nine-month-old menus make us worry that your cooking is as fresh and timely as your site. Another bugaboo, though minor: online menus with no prices. Are you ashamed of what you're charging?

3. If you start a restaurant or chef blog, maintain it or ditch it. If the last post was three months ago, take the damn thing down ― stale content embarrasses everyone. Besides, most restaurants have given up their blogs for Twitter feeds and Facebook status updates.

Speaking of which, you earn bonus points for posting prominent, easily accessible links to your restaurant's Twitter feed and Facebook page ― as well as links to your chefs' Twitter feeds and Facebook pages.

And a personal plea regarding Twitter feeds (though not all SFoodie staffers think this is a reasonable request): If you're advertising a limited-time special, tweet when you've run out so people don't come to your restaurant expecting something they can no longer get. Yes, they may stay for a meal once they've arrived ― but they will think twice before responding to one of your tweeted specials again.

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