4 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Fail

I’m going to tell you 4 things that make restaurant websites bad.

(Just bad bad baddy bad.)

I live in Durango, CO. It’s a small tourist town with a lot of out-of-town visitors who will be searching for places to eat, so at the end of this post, I’ll show you how 10 local restaurants in the area stack up.

1. It is rare to find a site that actually shows photos of the interior or the atmosphere. On rare occasion, you’ll find one, and usually it is very small. Often the best I can do is look under the delicious plate and observe “well, they have nice tables”. If I am considering going to your restaurant, beyond the food, I want to know if I actually want to be inside your establishment.

2. The photos that do exist, whether of food or the establishment, are regularly small.

3. Menus are only available on PDF. There’s really no reason for this. Often times a restaurant’s menu is on a PDF because this is how they print them, but it’s a disservice not to have it transcribed into HTML. This is a one time task and then changes will be far easier to make on the site than the PDF. PDFs on mobile are bad. Nearly every PDF is not made for the mobile viewing experience: text is small and you have to pan around. Additionally, they can be MEGABYTES to download, which is unnecessary and a pain in low bandwidth areas.

4. Does the restaurant take reservations? Does the restaurant require reservations? Most of the time you just won’t find out until you call.

Ten Durango Restaurant Rankings

Restaurant Interior Photos Large Photo sizes Non-PDF Menus Reserv. Clarity
Ore House Fail Pass
Still only food
Fail Adequate
Required or not?
Sow’s Ear Fail Fail Pass Adequate
Required or not?
Eolus Pass Pass Pass Better
Explicitly states to call for reservation
Mahogany Grille Fail
There is one, but it is tiny (not to mention the site is ancient)
Fail Fail Adequate
Required or not?
Seasons Rotisserie & Grill Pass (barely)
There is one, it is large, it does help
All other photos are tiny
Pass Adequate
Required or not?
Steamworks Brewing Company Fail
There is only one small one
They are barely just large enough
Pass Barely Adequate
There is a tiny little blip on the contact page that explains they don’t take reservations
Chimayo Adequate
Unfortunately, the photos that do exist do not give justice to the very cool atmosphere this restaurant offers
Pass Fail Barely Adequate
There is a tiny little blip on the contact page
El Moro Tavern Pass Pass Pass Adequate
Required or not?
East by Southwest Pass Pass Pass Barely Adequate
There is a tiny little blip on the contact page
* Ken and Sue’s Fail? Pass? – what’s there is large NA NA

View in landscape to read descriptions in the table.

* = This is a popular restaurant that I did not want to ignore, but their website says “coming soon”, so they get an asterisk for now.

When I set out to write this post, I did not imagine that the restaurants that performed best were also the restaurants that I enjoyed the most when it came to food, service and the overall experience. Perhaps paying attention to details on a website is a good indicator of other restaurant qualities.