Why Are Restaurant Websites Gaudy and Unusable?

Categories: Talking Points
Alembic_Website.jpg
The Alembic: Such good food, such a confusing website. Don't try this on an iPhone.
​Grumbling about restaurant websites is as reliable a pastime as complaining about San Francisco's summer weather. What's up with the cheesy soundtrack? Why is the menu dated July 2007? Where are the hours? 

This week, Slate's Farhad Manjoo doesn't just mock Fleur de Lys's glamorible site, he tries to figure out just why "the rest of the Web long ago did away with auto-playing music, Flash buttons and menus, and elaborate intro pages, but restaurant sites seem stuck in 1999."


As one Web designer tells Manjoo, "People in restaurants have a sense that they want to create an entertainment experience online--that's why disco music starts, that's why Flash slideshows open. They think they can still play the host even here online." Restaurant owners also tend to be older, and don't spend much time surfing the Web -- they're too busy. They're easily suckered into being sold Flash-y sites for $$$, and don't have the skills to update the menu in HMTL. (Two reasons why SFoodie, in particular, drops the smart phone and rushes to a desktop computer every time we need to look up a restaurant's info online.)

Manjoo ends the piece with a few examples of his favorite restaurant websites. Locally, we'd commend CommonwealthBoxing Room, and Cafe Des Amis for being three new-ish restaurants that get it: They're clearly organized; contain most of the important information on the front page; clearly link to Twitter, Facebook, and OpenTable; and convey, visually, a sense of the restaurant experience. 

And all without a soundtrack.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodieand like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

Location Info

Venue

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Cafe Des Amis

2000 Union, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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12 comments
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MackinRunUp
MackinRunUp

First World problems.I picture dood on some Thurston Howl III type 'ish. "mm'yess, my caviar isn't up to snuff, mm'kehh".

What's more hilarious than poor restaurant sites? Blogging about poor restaurant sites. 

W Blake Gray
W Blake Gray

So at what level of hilarity is commenting about blogging about poor restaurant sites?

Type nerd
Type nerd

I think it is a handsome site.

W Blake Gray
W Blake Gray

And are you the web designer who posted 4 messages yesterday defending his work? We opened the Alembic site, started typing this response, went back to look at it, typed a little more. Let's just see if that page has loaded yet ... Nope.

LA Weekly
LA Weekly

Hi all. Just a reminder: we welcome and encourage conversation on this topic. That said, please use one user name to do it. Users that post under multiple user names from one IP address -- sometimes known as "sock puppets" --  will have their comments deleted. Thank you for your understanding.

Slain_spotter78
Slain_spotter78

Hahaha.. this is SO MEAN, I love it. A restaurant that pretty much defined the time getting shit on for not moving WITH the times.... genius. 

FannywatersFG
FannywatersFG

i'm confused. i use my iphone to google a name & get a location. I don't really think anyone uses a phone to browse a website anymore. that's so... last decade

Lola Rose
Lola Rose

"and convey, visually, a sense of the restaurant experience" seems like the most important thing, yet it's the last thing you mention. You think twitter & facebook are more important than conveying the experience? alembic is amazing. actually, one of my favorite places in all of SF, and mostly _because_ they pay so much attention to small details. so they're behind on updating their website. you have to mock them publicly?

Lola Rose
Lola Rose

"and convey, visually, a sense of the restaurant experience" seems like the most important thing, yet it's the last thing you mention. You think twitter & facebook are more important than conveying the experience? alembic is amazing. actually, one of my favorite places in all of SF, and mostly _because_ they pay so much attention to small details. so they're behind on updating their website. you have to mock them publicly?

JenJones
JenJones

I agree, this article is uptight as hell. Stop telling us what we need. Like the quality of my night at a place has anything to do with iPhone compatibility. NERDS. It's a whiskey bar, have a drink & get a life boys.

Jhw
Jhw

What? This is one of the coolest websites I've ever seen. It's the reason we go to the Haight -- about the only reason. Have you even BEEN to this place? 

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