The Importance of Restaurant Website Mobility

This past Saturday, Ray and I had the rare opportunity to have breakfast out alone together without our toddler. Needless to say, we were thrilled. We remembered a particularly enjoyable breakfast we had months ago with friends at Simpatica Dining Hall, jumped in the car, and headed over. Part way there, we realized that we hadn’t checked their hours and pulled up their website on an iPhone. This is what came up.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we discovered Simpatica is only open for brunch on Sunday (their blog makes this obvious, but there was no link to the blog on my phone) and so we embarassingly walked into a restaurant that was being set-up for a catering event.

We’re not trying to point fingers at this restaurant. We love their food and everything they stand for. Instead, this serves as a reminder and a perfect example of how important it is to consider how customers interact with your website.

We’ve talked mobile restaurant websites before and we may start to sound like a broken record, but restaurant websites (in particular) that ignore mobile devices are doing their customers and their business a huge disservice. And designers that offer flash websites to restaurants… well, just don’t get me started.

Here’s the deal: Before Apple introduced the iPhone mid-2007, Flash websites were an attractive online option. Four years later, with Apple platforms like the iPad and iPhone, technology has evolved and enabled anyone to access the internet anywhere at any time. This changes the name of the game. Since Apple doesn’t install Adobe’s Flash onto their mobile devices, websites that are presented in Flash are completely inaccessible to iPhone/iPad users (and let’s face it, who doesn’t have an iPhone nowadays).

You work hard to satisfy your customers and send them rushing home to write winning reviews on your excellent service and drool-worthy faire. And, in foodie capitols like Portland, diners are usually on the go and use apps like Yelp and AroundMe to look up reviews and find directions to the best restaurants near by. When your stars are shining bright on those review sites, and hungry customers can’t click fast enough to learn more about you, how disheartening is it when they find out their iPhone can’t access your location, hours or menu? Who wants to lose business to a website that is inaccessible on your customers’ mobile device?

“In The Courgette Restaurant Website Survey, more than 80% of customers stated that they have visited a restaurant website on their mobile device,” says restaurant marketing website, The Blackboard. “This reason alone should probably be enough to avoid Flash.”

Finally, as designers, we believe it is our job to stand up and give you our expert opinion. There is no excuse anymore for creating Flash sites for restaurants. We know the facts about their ineffectiveness and we understand the harm to your business by creating them. We also believe in educating our clients, so in the end, everyone’s happy. Especially your customers.

Kandace Brigleb

Producer, co-founder of Needmore. Currently residing on the left coast.