From site visitor to in-person customer – few industries see customer conversions happen the way restaurants do. In an industry where your findability and content can so directly impact whether or not you’re making money, it’s amazing how little care is given to many sites. The user expectations for restaurant websites is incredibly level across the board, and includes several boxes that are easy to check if you take a little time, effort, and maybe a bit of money.

To warm up, we get started by reminding folks that WCAG 2.1 was announced to be in candidate release phase. We’ll talk about accessibility in more detail down the road, but for now, take the time to go review the recommendations, including a couple points we highlight.

Followup Resources

WCAG Links

Show Notes

Transcript

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to the Drunken UX Podcast. I am your host, Michael Fienen

And I’m Aaron Hill. Be sure to check us out at drunkenux.com and Twitter and Facebook.com/drunkenux.

You could also hop by our website and check us out on Slack. We have links in our contact section, in the show notes, or just go to drunkenux.com/slack. This evening, I am drinking a lovely glass of Balvenie Doublewood 12 scotch, because at the end of the day, I like a lot of things, but I do have an awful lot of scotch in my bar. So I stick with what I know.

Yes you do. I’ve got a snifter of sipping tequila, Grand Mayan, ultra-aged. It is amazing.

I was trying to be fancy tonight, but I guess I’m gonna get beat on that note. I want to start this evening by giving a shot out to our friends – of which I have none – at SpaceX – and my good friend, who isn’t – Elon Musk, because dude just shot his fucking Tesla Roadster into space today, and all I can think about now is how many kids are gonna be sitting over a summer vacation this year and they’re gonna be gluing GI Joes into Hot Wheels on top of model rockets. Because fuck that’ll be cool. So shout out to him. But in real life and in our world, I do wanna give a shout to the folks over W3C about the WCAG2.1 Candidate Release that came out on January 30th.

For the folks keeping score at home: What’s WCAG?

Web content accessibility guidelines. I’m sorry, I violated rule number one of not using jargon and I did that straight away. So 2.1 came out. I really, really wish… I know this has been coming for a while, but I really wish it was more than just a .X release. I would love a 3.0 release because it has been literally a decade since WCAG2.0 came out, but I’ll take what I can get and they are doing a lot in this. I’ll be interested to see Project Silver. Project Silver is the evolution of WCAG2.1, which is going to take, and I quote: “several more years.”

Why is it Silver?

It’s AG, right? Silver on the period of table is AG: Accessibility Guidelines. Very clever, good marketing on their part. But I do feel like accessibility needs to be much more of a living standard and maybe not annual, but bi-annual, I don’t think is much to ask. One of the problems that WCAG2.0 has had is that many of the standards, while some of them will live large forever. A lot of them, especially when it comes to technology and interactivity, they have not aged well, and a lot of it is missing new stuff that was not around 10 years ago. You gotta remember, iPhone came out in 2007, WCAG2.0 came out in 2008. We weren’t thinking very much about mobile devices and things like that, yet. 2.1 does address some of this. Some of the highlights, I think people wanna just be on the look out for, one is zoom. We’ve dealt with zoom for a long time for visual acuity problems, and they are formally looking to set the standard of… you have to be able to scale a website, 400% at 320 CSS pixels. For the layman, that’s 1280 normal pixels, basically. You have to be able to scale that to 400% without any additional scrolling. So you maintain linear vertical scroll, your content needs to reflow. That’s the word they’re using. And many people use. That’s not a new word. They did not make up that word. The idea is that the 320 CSS pixels and zooming at 400%, that is equivalent to viewing something just on your phone. That’s why that is the number. The next is character key shortcuts, which I think is huge because with the number of sites, if you use YouTube a lot or if you’re a JIRA user or any sort of web app, they tend to have lots of keyboard shortcuts. And the idea is they wanna allow people to remap keys so that they don’t collide with things like screen readers.

You know that what’s gonna happen is DirecTV Now is finally gonna get their keyboard shortcuts for their player, and then they’re gonna be behind the curve on the being able to remap it.

If you don’t know why that’s funny. Go back and listen Episode 3. Good call, good call. That was unscripted, and I have to give Aaron some credit on that. The other is mouse events and target size, and these are, I think, pretty important too. First off target size, they’re setting a minimum clickable size of 44×44 pixels. So if you have something clickable, for the sake of motor control and things like that, it has to have a minimum size. And the mouse event is interesting because the basically what they’re saying is, you should never target a mouse down event for something.

But why

I don’t have any motor disabilities or anything like that or any trouble using a mouse or moving around. But the idea is it’s easy for people to click wrong on things

Right. Yeah. Okay

And I’ve done this a million times, you click on a link, you don’t mean to, or whatever the case may be, or you click something even in your browser, and a lot of the time, the trick is you realize it very quickly and you just don’t click up and you just move your mouse off and then let off, and nothing happens. But some web apps, certainly, if use jQuery for a lot of things than are binding events to onmousedown(). Yeah, it’s basically, you’re talking about doing something when only half an interaction has taken place, and that’s what they’re trying. They’re trying to say. Let’s try to make sure that stuff only happens when they complete. A mouse click is a click down and letting it come up intentionally.

So the target size issue is Fitt’s Law, from the Laws of UX. That’s where the difficulty of clicking on something is a function of the distance to it and the size of the thing you’re clicking on

Yeah, that’s right. And this is an argument, and this will be an episode, I don’t know when, but accessibility is usability. That idea that if you can make something accessible and you make it usable that you’re meeting everybody’s needs, it’s not necessarily about just making stuff easy for people that have any kind of functional or cognitive impairment for using websites. Yeah, that leads directly into that. One of the things that I debated tossing this out there, but I did want to mention it because it was interesting. It’s at risk, meaning it may not make the final recommendation and is currently on the chopping block, but it’s “identify common purpose.”

I don’t understand. I’ve read the show notes, but I still didn’t understand it

For the benefit of our listeners, here is what the recommendation currently reads. It says “in content implemented using markup languages, for each user interface component that serves a purpose identified in the common purposes for user interface component section, that purpose can be programmatically determined.” So now you know what all that means, right Aaron

Okay, that’s clear as mud.

The idea is that they want to allow users to be able to control their interface. This is particularly true if you have a cognitive impairment that makes it hard to understand all the different interfaces that are being presented. So you could go in, if you use three different social media platforms, you could use your own set of icons so that common actions have common communication to you.

So is this, if you’re using favicon or Glyphicons or something, then, and someone’s using, I don’t know, the pencil for the edit action, you would have your own icon that you can read and understand, and that would swap in for it?

Right. Or if one service is using the famous floppy disk save icon and you have trouble remembering what that is, and you have an icon that simply says, “save,” you can use that in place of those other ones. I do think this poses a lot of interesting options for things like icon fonts and opportunities for that, but I also think that it is a huge, huge implementation problem, especially from the standpoint of if somebody already has a cognitive disability, you’re asking them to figure out how to adapt an icon font to different sites and everything. And I think that’s hard, and I think that’s exactly why it’s at risk at the moment cause they can’t figure out how to give a recommendation and how to test all of those cases. So we’ll see where it goes. But it is an interesting concept and I encourage folks to go check up on it. If this interests you, and as a web developer, UX tester a UI designer, I don’t care, it should interest you, 2.1 looks to be released around June. So you’ve got a solid five months, four months to go in and look over the current candidate recommendation and see what you think. It matters. Tonight, though, the real topic of this evening is gonna be on restaurants. I like it because it’s a bridge between the analogue and digital world. It’s a way that people who visit restaurant websites very quickly in theory, translate to in-person customers.

Their conversions are easy to track.

Yeah, the conversions there are simple, they’re straightforward, and restaurants themselves from a web standpoint are fairly straightforward. Users come there for a number reasons by a number of means, whether that search, reading blogs, looking for photos, they need maps of your location or they wanna ask questions about what you make or how you make it. There are many reasons.

It’d be funny if restaurants had the same bounce rate as websites do. Like 50% of the people coming to the restaurant, look at the menu at the front desk, and then like “nah,” and then leave

I think that’s what Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares is for. Those are the restaurants that have that. I think it’s worth noting, there’s some research that Marketing4Resturants did in 2014, they noted that for restaurants in particular, 36% of their web traffic was mobile. That was four years ago. So we’re talking about… there’s no way that number’s gone down. We all know that that’s going to have increased. And the other important number that was included in that was less than half of the traffic in total was from desktops.

Okay, I’m no dummy, I can do math. How do we have less than half from a computer and then 36% for mobile? What’s missing

My guess is that tablets may be getting tracked as not mobile. There’s probably also room for your PS4 or whatever. They have web browsers integrated into them. If you have a car PC, I’ve got an Android head unit. Maybe it gets tracked as mobile, I don’t know. Or there’s unknown, there’s I think a lot of ways that gets tracked, that there’s margin of error, I’m guessing. But mobile web presence and web presence in general, but I do wanna talk a lot about mobile as we go through this because you have to think about the fact that for restaurants in particular, a lot of your traffic is… in my area, for instance, we have a lot of family owned restaurants, sole proprietor type restaurants, but they still do a lot of business with travelers. People driving through, flying through, wherever you are, on any given day millions and millions of Americans are flying across the country to a different location. So your website, while you may think, oh, everybody in town knows what I have, you have to consider that fact that an important part of your business are the people who have no clue because they aren’t from here

Restaurants are definitely a big part of hospitality. It’s literally half of it, right? Hotels. You have restaurants.

Absolutely, I want folks keep that mind. I also do wanna emphasize that as I talk about this and Aaron gets into some of this, we are looking at these smaller restaurants, not necessarily the big chains. We’re not talking about Applebees, we’re not talking about McDonalds or Chilis. These people have marketing budgets. They have entire teams that can take care of these problems for them, even though many of them have a lot of bad practices. They are not necessarily the beneficiaries of what we’re gonna talk about tonight, I think.

They’ve also got TV commercials and much larger budgets to pay big firms to do their websites so they can still make a bad website

And half the time they make bad food too, but you know what? People still fucking buy it, so they don’t need this. If you work for McDonalds turn off our podcast, we don’t need you. But if you want to sponsor us, give us a call. Google, and this is something not a lot of people realize, but Google started indexing and showing menus in quick results in 2014. This goes back roughly four years, three and a halfish that they started pulling in menu data from a third party resource. We’ll talk about later. And if you search for restaurant plus menu or menu plus restaurant, you would get a menu if they had one available for you.

Yeah, you even can get… if you use the maps, occasionally if I’m in a new city, or if I’m looking for something to eat that’s nearby, you can search on Google maps for restaurants, or even be more specific than that, you can filter by what’s open right now, so you can… and it’s using the open/close times that it thinks that you have from your website. So if you have your website with the wrong open/closed times, people are gonna get bad results with a search for you maps.

Like we said, a lot of your customers are potentially gonna be travelers. The reason they are searching to begin with is because they don’t know. They’re looking for this information.

That’s actually a really good point that your audience, if they’re looking on the internet, they are people who don’t know your restaurant already. So it’s all the more important. Like anybody who’s been to your restaurant before and knows, they’re probably not gonna be looking on the internet for it, unless they just want to make sure that you’re open

We’ve got a Chinese place here that I look up regularly because I don’t have a paper menu for them. And the problem isn’t that I don’t know what they have, they’re a Chinese place, I know exactly what they have. They have fucking Chinese food, but I don’t know the names of all of it. I need to know what I’m asking for, or the better yet what the specials are. And this came up in a conversation I had with a food photography group on Facebook, that one of the biggest complaints that people had was that they couldn’t look up on people’s websites and see what specials were. Even if they had a menu and had all the other information, they couldn’t find out what was worth coming for today, for instance. And Google for its part, I have mixed feelings because they also aren’t giving people a lot of control over this. They’re relying on this third party data in terms of how it gets into their system. And so, I guess it puts the impetus on the owners of the restaurants and their web developers to focus on doing this right at that level. And that’s good. But I also wish there was a reverse way to go in and say, hey, let’s fix this.

Yeah, yeah. I think Facebook has that, don’t they? If they have your page or business index and you own the establishment or are connected to it you can issue corrections, can’t you?

Right. Yeah. You can put in a change request and if somebody else controls that page, they’ll get a notification. So this also puts emphasis on if you do have development for restaurants, if you help your local chefs and eateries and whatever they might be, make sure that you’re helping them, watching their analytics, plugging in to Google Webmaster Tools, especially look what people are searching for to find that site, what they want the most. I guarantee you, positively, that whatever the name is plus menu will be really high on that list and use that to help them form strategy and pay attention to that because it will give you a lot of useful information. One area where this absolutely falls apart are people who – I ran into this three weeks ago, it was right around New Year’s time. I was looking at a restaurant, they still had a goddamn Flash menu. It’s 2018. I haven’t been able to use Flash on my phone for years, why do you have a Flash menu still?

Or PDF menus, that’s not any better.

PDF menus are no better

PDF is a little better because you can actually read it on your phone. But I mean, functionally speaking it’s no better.

I’m gonna disagree with you because I think it’s exactly as bad. And here’s why. Okay, you can download it, but A) there are few restaurants that I have gotten PDF menus from that are doing it, well. A, Exhibit A, I want to present to the court for review. They are taking a photo or scanning an image. It is not text. They are doing it at 300 or higher DPI. Their menu is now a 90MB PDF file that cannot be indexed by Google because of both size and the fact that there’s no actual text in it

And there’s no OCR

Then that menu is two columns at 8.5×11 inches. And you were asking me to look at it on a phone with a five and a half inch screen.

Okay. Yeah. Fair point

So you can take your PDF menu, roll them up nice and tight, and cram them and trust me all of the user research and commentary on this matter backs up all of that. PDF menus are across the board, a complaint.

It’s really like an SEO concern, then.

It’s absolutely… if you have a PDF or a Flash menu, you are just willfully throwing away SEO value. Nobody can crawl it. Nobody can index it and nobody can present it. Google isn’t gonna put a PDF in their quick results. It’s just not gonna happen. Ricki Spanish, she had said:

https://twitter.com/GisEloquent/status/95832005796416716

People, this is not an uncommon sentiment and I don’t blame them. I don’t blame them not even for a minute.

How much traffic are people getting from… if this is an SEO issue, what is the stats on that.

Okay, if you couldn’t tell at home, that’s what we call a “set up.” Marketing4Restaurants ran this research, it is linked in the show notes. So if you wanna go and check out all of it, by all means, go read it. It’s worth it. Again, it’s four years old, but still good information. 50% give or take of inbound traffic for restaurants was from search. Half. These are people that are looking for something related to your restaurant website. Not people who know you that know what they want that can come straight there and get what they need. So SEO plays a huge part, and I think even more important than that – National Restaurant News, you have to go back five years. So this is information from 2013

That was Harlem Shake, right? The Harlem Shake meme

Unfortunately, yes. That is the exact year the Harlem Shake came out. So if you wanna know how bad 2013 was of a year, there you go. But, the important stat that came out of their research was that 92% of mobile users searched for restaurants within the past month of their research.

I can only imagine them number is higher now.

92%, if you had a phone, and again, we’re going back five years, five years is an eternity in mobile technology at this point. But five years ago, people universally, let’s just say it is, 92% is everybody was searching for restaurants on their phones. That is a number that is really hard to just be like, yeah, we don’t care about that.

Yeah, frankly, I’m surprised at the 50% inbound traffic number isn’t bigger. Because if I already know about a restaurant, I’m probably not gonna be searching for them. I’m gonna just be going direct to their site. Or going to the place in person.

The two things I will throw out there about that as A), again, four year old data, but 2), I don’t know what the restrictions on that methodology was. So for instance, one of the searches – I travel a lot, I go to speak at conferences, I work for a company that’s in a different city – I have occasion to go to a lot of places. One of the things I do most frequently is I go to Google Maps and type in the phrase “restaurants near me.”

Yes, I do the same

And I don’t know that as far as this research goes, I don’t know that counts necessarily as a search as far as people getting information, because it doesn’t show up necessarily in Google Analytics, at least not straight away, especially if I don’t go to your site. Because again, a lot of the times I’m looking for the list and the map of what’s around me and what the quick hitter information is. I’m not going to every one of those websites. So what Google knows about you is really more important than what you put on your website at that point, but it informs each other

Google collates all this emergent data that it finds about your restaurant from various parts of the web. That’s gonna look at Yelp that’s gonna look at whatever it can find for your website or from Yellow Pages. I don’t know what people are using, but it’s gonna find all that. It’s gonna put it all together into the entry that comes up when you search on Google Maps, and if you have bad data up there, it’s gonna make… if you see three results and one of them doesn’t have useful information and the other two do, you’re probably not gonna look at the one that doesn’t have anything useful. so, you’re missing out.

If you’re interested in mobile data. I’m not gonna talk a lot about it here, but there’s an article from Page Cloud that has a ton of information regarding mobile traffic trends and how they relate to restaurant traffic. I don’t include much in here because that data is heavily skewed towards just mobile trends on the w hole, but it is still a lot of really good data. And I do encourage folks to read that, link’s in the show notes, drunkenux.com, good site. There is a mnemonic for restaurants, which is PAM, make sure your website has PAM. PAM is a loving, caring person who will guide you through these challenges. PAM is your phone number, your address and your menu.

Yeah, that sounds about right

This is what people are after. @CincinnatiBites, they do reviews of restaurants, believe it or not in Cincinnati, and they missed the acronym a little bit, but they mentioned

https://twitter.com/CincinnatiBites/status/82538395141814272

So phone is not included in that, but we will forgive them on that one.

So literally yesterday, I was on Twitter and Existential Comics said

https://twitter.com/existentialcoms/status/96068196012839731

We’ll talk about this in an episode that’s coming up about higher ed. Higher ed has this web comic from XKCD, and it has absolutely plagued that industry for years. And it turns out restaurants have the same thing except it’s from The Oatmeal and The Oatmeal has a comic, again, it’s linked in the show notes if you wanna go see it. But he’s got what I want from a restaurant website. He wants the menu, the specials and happy hour info, an address with a link to Google Maps, an online reservation system that actually works. I’ll talk about that later though. And hours of operation. And then there’s a great little screen shot. He’s like, here’s what I get instead. Obnoxious Flash animation showing giant pictures of a couple stuffing food in each other’s faces. Hurrrrrrrrr. Menu only downloadable as a 90MB PDF file. Can’t copy and paste anything because it’s in Flash . Letter from the founder that no one has ever or will ever read, and every restaurant website owner thinks that they’re the first person to use the Papyrus font.

Please, never use Papyrus. There is no reason to.

At any rate, funny, good stuff. I feel sorry that people have to put up with that.

I think it’s worth a restating. I know you’ve mentioned this multiple times, but the idea of the PAM, it’s not that your website can only be that. It’s that if you do not have those three things clearly usable no matter what else you have on your web restaurant website, you are failing. You must have PAM

Yeah, Evan Williams posted this thread just a week ago give or take

https://twitter.com/evanwilliams/status/95785824381604659

So I actually participated on that thread and I said, in my experience, those roles are switched. I think it’s usually the designers that are advocating for sensible websites because most of us are pretty competent people. It’s usually the restaurant owners who are a bit out of touch.

I think it depends on who they have as that website designer role. I think that plays in heavily. When we talk about web designers and developers in their role, I do wanna bring up schema because schema plays a huge role in this now. And if you’re wondering what the fuck schema is, I promise you, it is not a song by Tool.

I know the pieces fit.

It all it comes together eventually here. Schema is… and if you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s basically a way of marking up data on the web pages so that other things, other machines can come in, read those pages and know what’s there and contextualize it.

Sure. Like the meta tags and whatnot.

It’s a great data tool. It’s terrible for restaurant owners, because they have no idea what any of this means at all, and they have no means with which to enable it. But if you are web developer listening to show, which I believe you are, and I assume you’re probably not a restaurant owner, unless you’re just really multi-talented, you need to know this stuff. There is a menu schema now. There is an updated menu schema, there’s a link to it again in the show notes, go check it out. It’s incredibly complex too. It used to be very, very simple, but they’ve made an update to that schema of that so much more complex

On moz.com

They’re trying to empower a lot of industries through this process of using data schemas. And in this case, one of the other big complaints that I was reading about in the restaurant group was about things like restaurants that don’t post things like allergy information, ingredient information, nutritional information. The schema that is released now for menus includes options for every bit of that.

Nice. I would say as important as those things are, after PAM

Absolutely. After PAM, but the next thing after that, PAM’s last name is Schema, baby. PAM Schema! Sounds like something you need to take Zylatrex for. But the thing is, it’s not just menus, right? The name of the restaurant, there is schema markup for that. Addresses, hours, phone, contact information, all of it. There’s schema information that covers all of that that helps all of these other services that go out there and look for restaurant websites or whatever that case may be that help that process and make sure that that information is displayed right when it’s shown in other tools that aren’t your website

Is this related to RDF stuff? The rich document format.

Yeah, it’s very much on that same measure.

I don’t wanna digress too much here

I know restaurants are already working on razor thin margins, restaurants make almost no money. It’s very hard to be successful and certainly profitable to any real degree running restaurant

Especially in the first two years.

Yeah. It’s totally understandable that when you approach a restaurant, and this is true for any kind of mom and pop shop, small business, they view web development as a burden. They view it as something that’s like, oh god, it’s something else I have to spend money on now. But the argument I would make to them is you have to look this as sunk cost. It’s something that you basically, if you spend money upfront and you don’t have to go overboard but just spend a modest amount, $500-$1000 dollars I think is fine.

That’s reasonable

I think that’s very reasonable for any small place. Do it right. Have it done once, and you don’t necessarily incur a really heavy, ongoing expense outside of just keeping your domain registered and having a place to put the damn thing.

And you know, really, if you’re worried about cost, you can satisfy the “PAM” thing *chuckling*, you can get the “PAM” thing going, you don’t have to use any crazy … you don’t have to use WordPress or anything else, you can just do static HTML and have someone design a really basic website that has that “PAM” information, and just ride that out for a year or two

Absolutely

Until you become… yeah…and then re-do your website later

I think people put way too much weight on this idea that “you have to have a CMS!” “By god, if you aren’t using WordPress then you just aren’t with it,” “if you aren’t using Drupal then you aren’t with it”. You know, there’s this website, it’s http://html5up.net — They have a pretty extensive list of HTML5 website templates that are just HTML, and they’re free to use. They’re good looking, they’re very functional –

They are very nice

— They’re *free*… I mean, what more do you want? Plug your own images in, throw your own text in, and FTP it. Most restaurants can meet “PAM” — well, you can meet “PAM” with 1 page if you absolutely have to

Yeah

If you want get crazy you can do a couple. But if all you’re doing is hosting a website, if you have less than, say, 5 pages, I don’t know if it’s worth it going through the effort of figuring out, okay –

DON’T DO IT

well once you’ve got WordPress installed, as good as it is, as functional and straightforward as stuff is: you have to keep it up to date, keep your security patches done, remember your login, have a developer or train somebody, in theory, to keep updates going on that

It’s hungry

But also, I think that the real take-home point, there too, is if you’re a developer working for a restaurant, if you’re a restaurant looking for somebody to help you: Don’t be afraid to get creative, guys — and I don’t mean with design. Find yourself — do you have a university nearby? Contact their graphics department. Get a hold of a local web developer, jump on Facebook and reach out for someone that does web development locally. Arrange a quid-pro-quo agreement

You know what everybody loves? Everybody loves to eat

Let me take a guess — can I take a guess

Yeah

Is it free food

Everyone loves to eat free food, yeah

There’s nothing wrong with being a developer and taking barter in exchange for your services — especially if you’re working with somebody local to your area

Yeah! I would totally do that

I would happily and readily admit, I have done that on many, many occasions. The barter, I typically get more value out of than getting paid cash, on some of those

Do… ten to twenty meals, “comped” or whatever — nothing unreasonable and I think, as a developer, you should try to respect and not milk that or anything. Yeah, just get some “comped” meals

Get it on paper. Maybe that’s the other important part. Even if you are doing a barter agreement or whatever. Anybody who’s developed websites long enough knows about the website http://clientsfromhell.net

*laughing* oh my gosh

Don’t end up there. Make sure everything’s on paper and stuff is agreed to, but from that point forward, yeah — get creative. Don’t be afraid as a restaurant — you can, it’s “ok”, you aren’t going to offend *most* people if you say “you know what? I don’t have a lot of money, but I would love to work out an agreement. If you like our food, and you wanna help us out, and we wanna help you out — let’s work this out.

Especially college students — hell yeah

Yeah. Absolutely

Even if you’re a pizzeria, man — free pizza? Shit..

So! After the break, we’re going to come back here; We’re going to refill our glasses, get a little bit more sloppy and start talking about “Third party resources and how they can factor in to Restaurant Websites.

I don’t know why I went that way with it, but I did. Enjoy! So, all of this stuff is cool and I hope that it gets folks started in thinking about how you can do, just, the bare minimum on the website and to get things going and understand what you need. There are other things in play here — you know, think of it kind of like a solar system, while your website is going to be the sun, there’s a lot of planets that are going to circle around this thing.

Yeah

I don’t want to *not* mention them because I do think they’re important — for instance: “Reservation Booking”. There are more reservation booking systems out there than I can count. Between services that provide if for you, and WordPress plugins that add it in, if you’re using a CMS, we have to mention it. Same thing goes with “Reviews” — I’ve talked with a lot of people that really enjoy reading third-party reviews, and of course if you’re running a website and you’re featuring reviews, you’re probably only going to feature the good ones.

Yeah… I mean, you could legitimately have 100% 5-stars, but if it’s on your website and you’re hosting them, nobody’s going to believe them

Yeah there’s a certain legitimacy that people proxying those through Google, who is already proxying them through Yelp, that that gives them. The thing I want to emphasize though is “don’t run before you can walk,” though

Yeah

KISS PAM. KISS PAM. “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, Your Phone, your Address and your Menus. That is what you need to worry about first and foremost. Do it, do it right, and do it well. Before you worry about — and a lot of places, especially, I mentioned at the start of the show we’re talking about smaller restaurants, a lot of smaller restaurants don’t need a reservation system to begin with.

No. Well, probably not

Probably. And, it depends. Pittsburg, Kansas is very different than Ithaca, New York, for instance

If you do need reservations, all you have to put on your website is “Call for reservations,” and put the phone number, or the e-mail or whatever

The “P” in “PAM”. Notice “PAM” does not have an “E” in it — there is no e-mail connected to that. I have never, in my life, e-mailed a restaurant asking for reservations. Or any information, frankly

I wouldn’t e-mail if I was expecting any kind of response

Right, yeah. There’s a certain human element to that. And similarly, don’t get drawn in by all the shiny things. I was reading a couple of articles that I haven’t included in the show notes (those show notes, by the way, are available at http://drunkenux.com ); one of the things a couple of these articles were talking about were “make sure you feature beautiful photography of your food, as a center piece of your homepage…

“of YOUR food

Of your food, yeah. If you’re going to do that, don’t use stock photos. I will personally hunt you down and give you a good little throat punch if you’re using stock photos

If you’re using stock photos of someone else’s food for your hamburger or item, you might as well use an icon or a stylized drawing of one

You might as well close, because your food probably isn’t good enough to keep you open. I’m sorry, but… I mean, let’s face it, there’s a certain truth to what I just said. And while this certainly isn’t a service that’s out there or anything, but photography *is* good and people do want to see your food — but remember: it is SUPPLEMENTAL to all the other things. Don’t go out and spend a ton of money getting a photographer to come out and take pictures if you aren’t going to satisfy… KISSing PAM. I’m going to keep saying it because it’s going to keep getting creepier each time. And like I said, as somebody that does photography as a sort of…not professional hobby…but “prosumer”-type hobby level — by all means, I want to come out, I want to take pictures of your food. But, as the restaurant owner, they need to understand that there are things that are more important than that. And if all you have are pictures, that doesn’t get you anywhere. Google does not index your pictures when people are looking through search results.

They do… I’ve noticed — I got a Pixel2 a while ago, and whenever I go to a place, like a restaurant or something, it has been asking me “Hey, you wanna take some photos while you’re there?” And then they use the photos in the Google Maps search list…search results

Yes. I am a Google Local contributor, so I actually take part in that exact program.

Nice

And I get fake internet points, just like with Imgur! And no, you don’t get to know what my Imgur handle is!

*laughing* I don’t want to. Some things have to remain anonymous

One thing, though, Google is a good example, Google is… I mean, let’s face it — Google is *THE* third-party, right? They are the third-party of all third-parties as far as that goes. But I’m really surprised that Facebook has not done more here. Most restaurants, in fact I’m pretty sure every restaurant in my area, has a Facebook page

You know, until you mentioned it I hadn’t really given it much thought, but it seems like such an easy thing that Facebook could do. You know, have a sub-class of pages or whatever, and then just have it have restaurant features. It’d be so easy

And then have a menu…feature

Yea

Facebook knows that people want menus

They’re already trying to take over the world, might as well offer restaurant menus

They already know, when it comes to any business, they want hours, they want location, they want reviews. They’ve empowered all of that, but the absence of a menu piece is actually really, really surprising for me.

Yeah

We have a restaurant here in town, I always have to go looking for a menu because I never have one here at the house, and I frequently order delivery, so I don’t go there to get one. They uploaded, ages ago, taken as pictures on a phone, to their post stream.

Ughhh…

Somewhere, underneath 300 other photos of their daily specials is their menu. We looked for it a couple weeks ago, I had a friend in town, we were like “hey, what sounds good?” we’re like “that place that’s downtown”, “alright, let’s see what we want.” And I spent 20 minutes looking for that menu and I never found it, we had to physically drive down there to put in our order because we couldn’t find their menu. If you’re going to do that at least make an album called “menu.

That would…I guess?…work

That’s the least you can do, if you’re relying, and a lot of people do this as well, a lot of folks rely on Facebook to be their website, basically

OK, Facebook already has the ability to “check in.” They can already do — they can already connect an Internet user to a real-life location. I feel like they’re missing out on this opportunity here to do “check-in conversions.” You show an ad for a restaurant, someone, somehow, gets shown that ad or something, and then later on they check in to your restaurant — Bam! That should be a valuable conversion right there

Yeah that’s… not something that I had thought about. That’s an interesting idea.

Yeah

I mean, you could extend that to a lot of places.

Yeah! That’s a really easy analytics path that they could track and then — I mean, you’d need to add some extra Foo in there, in the middle though

So, Google is pulling most of their menu data, metadata, from http://allmenus.com — That’s the primary provider and a lot of menus will go to http://allmenus.com and they’ll say “we own this restaurant” and insert their menu in there and that’s where that menu gets aggregated and then pushed out to all the other points. I want to caution people, and this is going to be the word of warning for the next few points, that — here’s the thing — (a) if you’re not doing it well yourself, why are you relying on other people to do it for you, that’s number 1. Secondly, as a user, and I’m going to caveat this, or preface this with, again I’m from a small town, compared to a lot of people, compared to most of the people that listen to the podcast, my city is not a big city. http://allmenus.com, I looked it up because I wanted to know what they showed for my area before we did this episode, and they do have data. It’s almost exclusively from the chains: we’re talking Pizza Hut, we’re talking Applebee’s, there were a couple others mixed in there. All of the regional chains, or the single restaurants, were closed. And I’m not talking about “closed for the day.

You mean closed for good? I’m looking at ours right now

They went out of business *YEARS* ago

Yeah. I see a few closed ones for Ithaca too

It’s a lot — they have a lot of out of date information that is not reliable for your customers when they’re looking for stuff, and it makes me distrust the platform in general. And the updates they get into their system don’t happen magically

Right

So, I think that’s something to consider when you’re like “Well we’ll just put everything in allmenus.

So like, basically if Google’s pulling from Allmenus, and Allmenus is pulling from…the Internet? So it’s like you have a demo tape out there, for your hot band, and then someone’s making a copy of that, and that person’s making a copy of their copy and giving that to Google, which is the promoter.

Yeah, Allmenus is either relying on people physically coming to their site and putting in the menu, or they may be scraping — I don’t know whether or not they’re scraping the schema data. I would presume they probably do? Because I mean that would be core to their business model? But I don’t know for a fact that they do that

I just realized I made a cassette tape reference (I’m sorry)

Could be worse

What other ones are there… Oh there’s GrubHub, right? I see a bunch of Grubhub on here

Yeah there’s GrubHub, and I’ll lump in there BeyondMenu. They’re another one

I’ve not used that one. Is that like GrubHub

Yeah, it’s very similar. So these are services that, like AllMenus, want to aggregate menu data in from other restaurants. I’ve used BeyondMenu locally, actually, we’ve got our own restaurant here that’s using it. It’s not terrible, it’s not great. It does suffer the exact same problem as AllMenus. You know, they’re relying on people to put information in. BeyondMenu and GrubHub are also pushing their delivery service component. Like AllMenus, if you go to AllMenus, they link to GrubHub for stuff

Right

They aren’t trying to solve the delivery question, but BeyondMenu and GrubHub obviously are. And I’m not going to tell you if you should or shouldn’t use that.

Here’s a fun thing that you may or may not have known: If you look at the number, the phone number on GrubHub, the phone number they give you for a business is not the business’s phone number, it’s the relay number. So when you call that business through the number on GrubHub, it goes through the GrubHub relay, I’m guessing that gets tracked somehow, and then I’m guessing they probably get a cut of it? or something? I don’t know. The restaurant knows that you’re calling from GrubHub

Interesting. I don’t know what I would do with that information necessarily, outside of, you know, advertising type-deals

Right

I think one of the big problems, for me, is that these services, especially again in small markets, have *super* limited availability. There is *nothing* for GrubHub here. I can’t use GrubHub in my area.

We have.. I mean, we’re a college town, so we have quite a bit of GrubHub

Well crap, so are we

I’ve used it a bit

It comes back to the same sort of thing: You’re relying on a third party to handle your menu data as opposed to handling it yourself and setting up the means by which they can just ingest that. The value, I think, is very limited. Like with BeyondMenu, one of the things BeyondMenu empowers is take-out orders. So you just put in your order and then go get it, if there isn’t delivery. But the restaurant here that is using it, they aren’t even using it for that feature — they’re literally just using it to show their menu

I actually — the reason I don’t typically use GrubHub is because I don’t trust it to have all the menu details. Because sometimes I know that the restaurant offers something and it’s not listed on GrubHub. And so I prefer to just call

There’s something distinctly untrustworthy about going to a third-party and trusting them to tell me what the restaurant has. I don’t know what that necessarily is, but I don’t have any way of knowing whether what they’re giving me is either accurate or up to date. Restaurants change menus all the time — or prices — all the time! How do I know that what I’m seeing is a reflection of that? And that’s, I think, one of the big complaints as a consumer, whether it’s AllMenus, BeyondMenu, GrubHub or these other services and their [reliability]. That’s one piece of the puzzle, the other piece is: How we go about helping restaurants get better sites. The whole first part of the episode we talked about how their web presence just kind of like, exists, and whatnot, but now *how* it exists. And there are services that are set up to facilitate that, right

Yeah..

So, I don’t know… let’s just be blunt on this, I guess: You’ve got these sites, right? You’ve got WebFlow, you’ve got Wix, you’ve got SquareSpace. All of them sell themselves, and most of these folks, they advertise themselves on Youtube shows and podcasts — they are the “engine that drives small business.

Sure (skeptically

If you are a small business, and you need a website, by God come to us and we will get you that website without any problems

I have friends that have used, well, SquareSpace at least. And they… I mean, it’s good. You can make some…shiny looking websites, and it’s pretty easy to maintain the content. It’s not bad

I was just helping someone recently with a “Square Pace”…”Square Face”… SquareSpace…. I tell you what, one of these days I’m going to figure out the pace to drink while we’re doing the DrunkenUX podcast in which I don’t screw up a line… but it’s not today. They use SquareSpace and they were having trouble with a developer lock and they were trying to figure out how they can edit their site. Well, at any rate… My feeling is that if these sites were really “the future”, they would already be here, so to speak

Yeah..

Their market penetration, I don’t feel is…representative of what they’re going after. Not that they’re not successful or that they’re not doing what they do well. WebFlow, I’ve had some conversations with some folks who feel that WebFlow is the absolute future. I encourage folks if you want to go look it up, they’re tool is very interesting, I will give them that.

I hadn’t heard of them until today, and I checked and it…it was pretty good, like I was impressed with the code; I’ve seen worse

The idea that WYSIWYGs cannot produce good code..

Yeah, that’s gone

They kind of attacked that head-long and did a good job and I absolutely give them credit for that. But I don’t know that these services….they do solve a problem. But I think they require the person using it to have a motivation that I think a lot of folks just don’t have

See I think if they would just… if one of these services would just say “we’re going to make a special template just for restaurants,” just like I said earlier with Facebook, and they had a custom template that offered “PAM”… “PAM” Solutions… and… that would be awesome! And I think that would actually be a good use of the tool, in this case, because it’s really low-maintenance as far as the stuff that you’re doing

You need that “turn key” type of process to come out and really give — and hammer it hard, you know? One of the problems that these websites like WebFlow and SquareSpace have is that they’re trying to be everything for everyone in the small business segment, so it makes it much harder for them to target an industry and absolutely go after it

How great would it be if you actually had a restaurant template on one of those websites and you could not click “launch website” or “update website” unless you had “phone, address and menu” filled out.

So, I’ve not used this particular tool, so I’m speaking with virtually no insider information on it, and they haven’t contacted us, they haven’t paid for any advertising, this is not a plug necessarily, it’s more a “hey, this exists”. But BentoBox is, I think, trying to be those people.

It’s also a delicious lunch

It’s a delicious way to get lunch and it’s also a delicious way to get your favorite restaurant’s menu

Yeah, so I hadn’t heard about that — tell me

They are entering this same space as…do you know Civic Plus? Does that name…

N

Civic Plus is in a similar space. Civic Plus is a CMS provider that is geared towards municipalities

Oh! Ok, cool

So you go to your city’s website, they may use Civic Plus. A lot of places… Sidearm? Sidearm Statistics

Ok

They do Athletics websites for universities and Higher Ed schools

Oh! Alright

So Bento Box is saying “We can be a service provider for restaurants, we aren’t going to do anything else, we’re going to do one thing and we’re going to do it amazing

Yea

They went out, they got themselves like $5 million in VC, so clearly people think there is something there.

Or they think that there’s a demand for this

They think that there’s a demand for this, and I definitely think that there is…. there is “need”, let me — I’m not going to use the word “demand.” Because you can have need without demand, and I think that’s the scary par

Sur

So I think it’ll be interesting to see where a service like BentoBox goes and if they can make good on that investment. My understanding, and again, this is secondhand so don’t take this to heart if you’re a restaurant and you’re interested in checking them out, but their services runs between $100 and $500 per month. So you do have to sit down and figure out if that’s something you’re going to get profit from

You know, they should offer, in another tier, $10 or $20 a month, with like super-simple… just “PAM

Right

Basic photos, like not all the awesome looking stuff. Literally just like “We need a restaurant website through *…* so that we can be Google Maps compliant and AllMenus compliant and have all that machine-readable data in it”

Yeah and they’re absolutely trying to tackle all that

…that would just be like, uber-basic

Online ordering-, online takeout-type market. They did $1 million in revenue last year, or something like that

Wow

They’re going after –

Any restaurant… Any restaurant that wants the vanity features like all the photos and everything, they’re going to have the budget to spend $100 to $500. But there’s also a market where you need to not have that

Totally…yeah, absolutely. And so, as we kinda wind-down here, as we think about this subject and the things I want people to take away: first off, don’t rely on third parties. You’re going to leave your customers constantly in a state of wondering, you know, if it’s the menu whether it’s up-to-date, whether the hours are right, whether the address is right. You know, you want to empower those third parties — you want to use Facebook, you want your AllMenus to be up-to-date, you want your Google data to be up to date, absolutely through-and-through. But all of that starts with your web presence, and making sure that you have “KISS”ed “PAM”, and told her good night.

You know, that’s one of the things that a Social Media Consultant would tell you is that the conversation about your brand is going to happen whether or not you’re involved in it, and so your participation in that conversation will allow you to have more influence over what gets said about your brand. The same things goes with your restaurant. There’s going to be information about your restaurant, on the Internet — there’s a good chance it won’t be accurate

Yeah. And so, as is the refrain we always drive home: Think about your goals, and what you’re doing. You know, BentoBox, let’s say with BentoBox you spend $500 a month. Know how you’re going to measure whether or not you’re getting $500 worth of value out of it. It’s not that much money, when you stop and think about it. Depending on how many tables you turn per night, that could be easily achievable if you’re the type of restaurant that needs its features. If they are handling all that for you from a technology standpoint, that’s crazy valuable! But you have to know how to measure those values.

Yeah

So, think about the goals that you have, and how you’re going to achieve those values. Is it something as simple as, you know, setting up goal funnels in Google Analytics, and all these… just think about how many takeout orders did you get, per week, last week..er, last year? How many do you want to start getting this year, and what are you going to do to empower that? If you’re going to get a great menu on your site with an obvious call-to-action with your phone number, see if you can get 2 more orders a week on your takeout

You could even do a thing where you just put a promo thing, a very short-term promo thing on your website for…a week or something, and say “mention you saw this ad and get a free side item or … free beer

And that’s a great way to bring this full circle, this idea that restaurants are a medium where you’re turning digital visitors into physical visitors very quickly. That’s a fantastic way, because if somebody did find you online…everybody loves a deal! You know, if they can save 10%, they’re going to do it

Yeah

Think about… I mean, GroupOn has built their industry on this idea, that if people come to your restaurant and can say “by the way, saw the 10% coupon on your website” — AWESOME. You know immediately that that is translating to value

Oh! But if you are doing that, train your staff to take that information down so that you can track those conversions. Don’t forget the followup, you gotta know “OK, this month, how many people did we get that mentioned the web — that mentioned the website.

It takes a little bit of work, you know, nobody’s going to tell you that’s not true. If you’re the developer helping, maybe you negotiate a deal to just kind of help along for 6 months or something, and help them figure this stuff out. But, again, if you’re a restaurant owner, it’s easy to do literally everything we have brought up in tonight’s episode, in under $1,000

If you are a restaurant owner and you have a Facebook page for your website, do promos in the menus, or post it in the restaurant somewhere that say “if you check-in on Facebook, you get some kind of…they get a small discount, they get something — a free dessert or whatever” Because people that check-in, that gets shared with their friends

Yeah

That’s free promotion

And we didn’t even talk about the actual process of launching a Facebook ad and all that, but — it’s easy! It’s easy to do it, that’s also pretty cheap, especially if you were trying to target, like, a very small area at a very particular time.

Yeah

Folks, I’m glad you joined us this evening! I hope you had a fun ride with us and enjoyed KISSing PA

KISSing PAM…. *laughing

How many more times do I have to say it before it gets creepy

I know what I want to put in the header image, this week.

Let us know what you think, if you’ve worked with restaurant websites — Please, by all means, drop by the website, let us know what the experience was like, check out the show notes. Get some information, there’s some research there, trend information there. We also have links to the accessibility stuff we talked about at the very start. Drop by and check it out, and we will see you next time

This episode of The Drunken UX Podcast brought to you by Gas Mark 8.

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