Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 600,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
Text:  A A

How a Terrible Website Will Increase Your Business

by Alan Belniak  |  
January 31, 2011

Customers can be funny sometimes. They can tell you exactly what they want, and, as marketers, we can totally ignore them. To see what I mean, head on over to my new current 10-second timeout,†Never Said About Restaurant Websites. It's a short-form, funny blog, written in pure satire/sarcasm about what elements of restaurant websites get under the skin of patrons.

If I were to open a restaurant today and I wanted an online presence (who wouldn't?), you'd better bet that I'd read through this comical yet true list of posts and make sure I†don't do what this site is lampooning.

What's hard for me to understand is this: So many people clearly dislike Flash intros, small "click to skip" text, cursive text, outdated information, and hard-to-find key information. Yet so many restaurants' websites ignore this. Do they create a website like this because that's what other restaurants do?

The main reasons people go to restaurant websites are for:

  • location (including a map, a restaurant address, a parking address if it's different than the restaurant's address, maybe even a visual explanation or description, and perhaps even GPS coordinates)

  • hours of operation

  • phone number(s)/an email address/a Twitter ID /a Facebook fan page URL/basic, upfront contact information

  • a downloadable and viewable menu

If you're a restaurant owner, be bold, and break the mold. Use current data and trends to help your customers find you and like you (and I don't mean on Facebook). For example, head over to†Yelp and see how the site classifies and displays information, such as hours, attire, and the like. Why not make all that kind of information for†your restaurant incredibly findable and obvious on your website?

Case in point: I have two kids. †A few years back, I didn't really care if a restaurant had a kids' menu. †Today, I do. †When I go to a restaurant website and I see the option to view a menu (or download it), and I can easily find the kids' menu, that restaurant earns a point in my book. †They've made my job of potentially selecting them that much easier. †They've marketed to me by making the information I want that much easier to find.

This isn't limited to funny sites like†Never Said About Restaurant Websites lampooning bad restaurant websites. The conversation is all around you: social media, Yelp, e-pinions, discussion boards, Google reviews. You just have to go listen to what customers†don't want, and do the opposite.

Restaurants aside, are†you giving your website visitors the info they need and want upfront? Or are you making them dig for it, at the expense of a Flash intro that no one really watches anyway?

p.s.: Heading to the Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Forum 2011 in Austin next week? †Great! I'm speaking at a 9:00a session ("New To You: Social Media Best Practices to Heat Up Your Marketing"). †Stop in and say hi, or find me there at another session!

Sign up for free to read the full article.Read the Full Article

Membership is required to access the full version of this how-to marketing article ... don't worry though, it's FREE!


We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:

Alan Belniak works at a major Boston-based software company (PTC) focusing on product lifecycle management, where he is employed as the companyís Director of Social Media Marketing. In this role, Alan works in strategic and tactical fashions to find ways to use social media channels to better interact with customers, and to direct that feedback to marketing, R&D, sales, and other appropriate groups. Alan holds a bachelorís of Science degree in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, and his masterís degree in Business Administration, with a focus on Technology Entrepreneurship, from Babson College in Wellesley, MA. Alan blogs over at, and can be found on Twitter, too:

Rate this  

Overall rating

  • Not rated yet.

Add a Comment


  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Mon Jan 31, 2011 via blog


    I know several restaurants that should read this blog post. My husband and I were recently looking at different restaurant websites online, trying to find somewhere special to go for our anniversary. Some restaurants sounded fabulous, but we couldn't get the basic info we needed from the site. We ended up going with the restaurant that sounded delicious AND had basic info, directions, phone number, and a description of the restaurant's jazzy, retro style.

    Why are so many sites hiding that basic info? So strange.

  • by Alan Belniak Mon Jan 31, 2011 via blog


    Thanks for the comment. I think it comes down to one restaurant owner seeing what another did with his/her site, and they think they need to copy it. I can count on one hand the number of Flash intros I've ever watched, on a restaurant site or otherwise.

    They aren't doing themselves a favor, and its perplexing as to why.

  • by TraderZed Mon Jan 31, 2011 via blog

    Awesome post.

    I recently just launched and went through all of this. We found out exactly what customers want (menu, hours and location) and did some pretty cool stuff that gave the site and restaurant more personality (and no, we didn't add auto playing music.)

    The biggest complaint we had from people was that there are no photos of food. Is this a problem? We didn't really think so. I mean, the nature of the restaurant didn't really dictate the need for photos. The dishes change monthly and never look the same.

  • by Amanda Pingel Mon Jan 31, 2011 via blog

    My personal favorite is Noodles & Company who -- as of the last time I tried to navigate their terrible website -- not only had a flash intro, but had NO WAY to get past that if you couldn't use flash -- as, for example, on the iPhone.

    I'm sitting in my car, thinking, "I would really love some Noodles, I wonder where I could get some", and they're doing everything they can to prevent it.


  • by Alan Belniak Tue Feb 1, 2011 via blog

    I think you took the right approach. And with the 'complaints' (lets call them suggestions, because frankly that's not much of a complaint), it's easy enough to address (if you do). Moreover, you gave them a way to *give* you feedback - so at least you can react and respond to it. Adding pictures in a subsequent site fix is probably not a hard thing to do. I think it'd be nice to see, even if they are of "dishes past" - it gives the would-be customers a sense of the cuisine you are capable of creating.

  • by Alan Belniak Tue Feb 1, 2011 via blog

    Your last statement sums it up nicely. When sites don't make the information (and subsequently, cash!) exchange easily, they are hurting themselves. Sadly, many do this inadvertently.

  • by Charlie M. Tue Feb 1, 2011 via blog

    Companies like do a great job at helping restaurant owners build websites that cover all these commonly missing topics.

    I'd say its pretty cheap considering what you get too!

  • by Mike Caran Wed Jun 1, 2011 via blog

    We hear you! Our restaurant moved towards a solution last month and we haven't looked back since, search traffic is doing awesome and guests are really pleased with the website. Makes a huge difference!

  • by Tom Mon Apr 16, 2012 via blog

    Yep, its hard to believe especially since the biggest marketing tool a restaurant can have is their website. There are solutions as well now, such as, which we made based on the feedback of not just restaurant owners, but restaurant visitors as well.

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!