Slate’s tech writer Farhad Manjoo asks a good question, “why are restaurant websites so horrifically bad?”
Here’s his take:
Over the last few weeks I’ve spent countless hours, now lost forever, plumbing the depths of restaurant Web hell. I also spoke to several industry experts about the reasons behind all these maliciously poorly designed pages. I heard several theories for why restaurant sites are so bad—that they can’t afford to pay for good designers, that they don’t understand what people want from a site, and that they don’t really care what’s on their site. But the best answer I found was this: Restaurant sites are the product of restaurant culture. These nightmarish websites were spawned by restaurateurs who mistakenly believe they can control the online world the same way they lord over a restaurant. “In restaurants, the expertise is in the kitchen and in hospitality in general,” says Eng San Kho, a partner at the New York design firm Love and War, which has created several unusually great restaurant sites (more on those in a bit). “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.”
That’s as good as explanation as I can think of. Around here, I think that Jose Andres’ restaurants have fairly easy to use websites. (Oyamel‘s header looks fantastic.) I think 2Amys keeps it simple and relatively easy to use. Komi’s site is about as minimalist as can be.
But as the piece would indicate, some aren’t that good. The Source, for example, doesn’t seem to have its own URL, instead sitting as one small site amongst Wolfgang Puck enterprises’ massive site. The header on Againn’s site is impossible to notice for anyone over the age of 55. The site at Buck’s Fishing and Camping looks unfinished. For all I can tell, it is.
Have you had any bad experiences on local DC area restaurant websites? Conversely, are there any sites that you like a lot and that have the kind of content that makes you a repeat visitor?