Common Restaurant Website Mistakes #5 – Not Catering for Mobile Device Users
Posted on Monday, September 1 2014 by Russ Huntington
To conclude our series of blog posts about common restaurant website mistakes, we cover the importance of ensuring your website is fully accessible to mobile device users.
The number of people using mobile phones, smartphones and tablet PCs to browse the internet is increasing rapidly. Throughout August 2014, 41.3% of all pages served by White Menu were to mobile devices – and we usually see significant increases over summer public holiday weekends when people are out and about looking for restaurants, bars and cafés. If your website does not cater for users of mobile devices, you are missing out on the opportunity to market to a big proportion of ready-engaged potential customers.
There are a number of areas that can cause issues for mobile device users:
1. Design that doesn’t cater for small screens
Many websites are built to render at pre-determined fixed dimensions, and usually cater for the most common size of desktop PC screen. This is fine for a big chunk of users, but as screens are now varying significantly (both a lot larger, and a lot smaller), it is becoming more difficult to identify a single “common” screen size. Instead, it is much better to design a website in such a way that it scales responsively to the user’s screen size. A well planned website can include content that is optimised for larger screens and reduce the available content to a more concise subset for smaller screens.
All of this means the minimisation of frustrated users who cannot see what they need to find simply because the website is either far too big or far too small for the device or computer they are using.
2. Use of PDF or other large documents for menus
The use of PDF documents for menus on websites is very common in the restaurant industry. Most of the time, it’s simply due to ease of maintenance – most restaurants have PDF copies of their menu that they use for physical printing, and it’s easy to just upload that same document onto the website.
The problem is that print-optimised documents are often quite large, and not at all optimised for web downloads – especially not on mobile devices that have restrictive data connections. This is another way to quickly lose a potential customer, as they are simply unable or unwilling to view your offerings.
It is much better to add your menu content to a proper web page, and keep it updated alongside your physical printed menus. A little more effort, but well worth the resulting increase in business.
3. Excessive graphics and navigation options
As with the earlier point about design that doesn’t cater for small screens, sometimes the sheer volume of content can be off-putting for mobile device users. For example, if your homepage contains a large quantity of images of graphical banners advertising your nightly entertainment schedule, it’s likely that mobile device users simply won’t be able to hone in on the precise information they’re looking for (like when you open and where you are!).
Keeping the content concise, with well-designed navigation options for users to delve into the information they’re interested in ensures that your potential customers stay focussed on the website and will be more likely to result in customers through the door.
4. Use of Flash
Finally, the use of Flash for restaurant website is still far too common – we covered this more comprehensively in an earlier blog, Common Restaurant Website Mistakes #2.
To summarise, there are a number of key areas that you can check to ensure that your website is catering for as many users as possible:
- Embrace responsive design. This ensures that your website scales efficiently to the wide variety of screen sizes.
- Don’t use PDF files for menus. Mobile device users may be unwilling to download large files that consume their restrictive data allowance. Better to add the menu as a regular content page so that they can view it more easily and accessibly.
- Keep your website concise to ensure small-screen users can find the information they need quickly and efficiently.
- Don’t use Flash. Almost all smartphones are unable to read Flash files, you’re far better off catering to the majority.
If you need help or advice on implementing any of these suggestions, get in touch – White Menu is happy to help!