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Technology

Why Menupages exists

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanAugust 11, 2011 9:06 AM

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You've wondered I'm sure. I have. Why are restaurant websites so horrifically bad?:

...The rest of the Web long ago did away with auto-playing music, Flash buttons and menus, and elaborate intro pages, but restaurant sites seem stuck in 1999. The problem is getting worse in the age of the mobile Web—Flash doesn't work on Apple's devices, and while some of these sites do load on non-Apple smartphones, they take forever to do so, and their finicky ... I did get a plausible-sounding explanation of the design process from Tom Bohan, who heads up Menupages, the fantastic site that lists menus of restaurants in several large cities. "Say you're a designer and you've got to demo a site you've spent two months creating," Bohan explains. "Your client is someone in their 50s who runs a restaurant but is not very in tune with technology. What's going to impress them more: Something with music and moving images, something that looks very fancy to someone who doesn't know about optimizing the Web for consumer use, or if you show them a bare-bones site that just lists all the information? I bet it would be the former—they would think it's great and money well spent." Not coincidentally, designers make more money to create a complicated, multipage Flash site than one that tells you everything you want to know on one page....

I can comprehend the reliance on old-school designers who overcharge for a series of static pages if you need fine-grained control of the visual look & feel which aligns with your class and elegance. But a lot of high end restaurant websites look like they were outsourced to the Insane Clown Posse and their stylists. Most fine-dining American eateries I've been too tend to avoid the bright and flashy aesthetic you might find at iHop or Red Robin in their meatspace ambiance, but that seems less assured when it comes to their cyberface.

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