The Number One Thing Your Restaurant Website Should NOT Do

If you own a restaurant and have a website, you’ve likely taken great care to make sure the quality of its design reflects the quality of your establishment.  You probably have beautiful close up, hi-res images of some of your most tantalizing dishes, pictures of patrons having a great time, perhaps even a shiny HD video.  But none of this matters if you violate one unwritten rule of restaurant web design:

DO NOT MAKE YOUR MENU LINK OPEN A PDF FILE OF YOUR MENU!

I cannot stress enough how unpleasant this experience is for visitors to your site.   When I’m clicking away on a restaurant’s website, checking out locations, image galleries, etc. and I click on the MENU link or the OUR MENU link or the FOOD link I expect to be smoothly transitioned to another page of the site where your menu is laid out for me.  I don’t expect (well, sadly, I do) to have my computer grind to a halt because it has to suddenly download your massive, hi-res PDF menu document and boot up Adobe Reader.  The experience is even more jarring when it happens on a smartphone, and the last thing you want to do is tick off people who are using their smartphones to try and find a place to eat RIGHT NOW.

If you want to offer a downloadable PDF of your menu, that is fine, but give me some warning.

One reason not to do this that you may not have considered is that your PDF document cannot be read by Google.  By listing your menu out on an actual page of your website, instead of using just a PDF, you give Google the chance to see what dishes you offer.  This gives you the chance to show up in search results for dish-related search terms like “chicago style pizza austin texas.”

Another benefit to listing your menu out on a page is that it is much more share-able.  Visitors may like your menu so much that they want to share it with their 300+ Facebook fans, but they are not likely to share a link that automatically kicks off a PDF download…that’s just rude.

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