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More than any other industry, bars and restaurants are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the boom in smartphone use.

Decisions on dining are often made on the spur of the moment so by having a simple mobile site with a booking tool and click-to-call button restaurants will put themselves in the best position to attract some extra customers.

A new report form JiWire has found that consumers are twice as likely to use mobile than desktop as a source of information about where to eat.

To find out whether restaurants are making the most of this opportunity I searched for places to eat around the Econsultancy office in London’s Soho.

It’s a prime tourist spot that’s also home to thousands of office workers, so there’s plenty of money to be made keeping all those people fed.

Unfortunately I could find very few good examples, despite searching nearly the whole of Soho using Google Maps.

As such, I’ve pointed out one or two of the most common UX issues before highlighting the few good mobile sites that I uncovered.

Starting with the common flaws...

Very few are mobile optimised

I had to visit five restaurant websites in the vicinity of the Econsultancy office before I found one that is mobile optimised.

People on-the-go have neither the time or the patience to be pinching and zooming a desktop site, so it will inevitably lead to people abandoning the site and looking elsewhere.

Downloadable menus

Working out the best way to present the menu is a big challenge as restaurants often have a large range of options that might change on a regular basis.

However making it a downloadable PDF is definitely the worst way to try and solve this problem.

                      

Most sites give you no warning that clicking the menu link will automatically begin a download, which wastes your time and your data allowance.

Furthermore, pinching and zooming round a PDF menu is not a great user experience.

Lack of click-to-call buttons

New research from Google shows that 42% of mobile searchers have used click-to-call, with the main motivations being to find more information or make a reservation.

Click-to-call is quite a simple feature to add to a mobile site and vastly improves the UX, yet very few restaurants use this feature and those that do generally don't make it very obvious.

It’s an area we’ve discussed at length on the blog before, highlighting good and bad examples, as well as looking at best practice tips for designing a mobile call-to-action.

Examples of decent mobile sites

Carnaby Burger Company

Not a perfect example by any means, but it is a decent mobile site that allows you to access most of the information you need.

It's built using responsive design, so the menu issue is solved by housing all the myriad options within dropdown menus, so potential customers can easily decide whether they want the chicken or a hotdog. However opening and closing these dropdown is a bit clunky.

                      

Other neat features include the handy arrow button that appears as you scroll down the screen which shoots you back up to the top of the page, the simple colour scheme, and the use of click-to-call buttons.

Cây Tre

Cây Tre also succeeds where most other fail – you can read its menu on a mobile site.

While the font may be a bit small for some people, I think that a majority of potential customers will be able to skim down the range of options (which includes the prices) and make a decision on whether they want to make a visit to this Vietnamese restaurant.

                      

The homepage is also well designed, with a picture of some delicious food above a user-friendly booking tool. Simplicity is often the best solution in mobile design, and Cây Tre has nailed it.

My one criticism is that the phone number at the bottom of the homepage is too small and doesn’t allow click-to-call.

Brindisa

Brindisa’s mobile site has a number of major flaws, not least the fact that you have to download the menu, but it’s a symptom of just how bad restaurant mobile sites are that I’ve had to include it as an example for others to aspire towards.

The first problem was that when I clicked on Brindisa’s Soho restaurant in Google Maps it opened up the site for its London Bridge outlet, so I had to navigate round to find the Soho details. Luckily the navigation is very easy as it uses a familiar hamburger menu.

                      

Other UX issues include the aforementioned downloadable menus and tiny phone numbers, which are in fact click-to-call buttons though you wouldn’t guess it from looking.

The main reason I’ve included Brindisa on this list is because I think it looks great – the colour scheme is simple, it has gorgeous imagery and most of the CTAs are large and easy to click.

Use of Duda Mobile

Duda Mobile seems to be a popular solution among Soho’s bars and restaurants, as its an affordable self-serve platform that takes an existing site and rejigs it for a mobile screen.

Several of the restaurant sites I looked at had a Duda Mobile URL and followed a similar template, which isn’t without its glitches but does offer some useful functionality.

                      

Restaurants using this platform generally have a click-to-call CTA, a ‘Find us’ button that opens Google Maps and a ‘Find a Table’ tool that integrates with Top Table.

Where the sites fall down is that they generally require users to download the menu and as it works from a self-serve template the aesthetics aren’t always that great. Shouty capital letters are a common design feature.

Even so, it’s certainly better than having no mobile presence at all.

David Moth

Published 4 March, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

What's the use case?

When I'm searching for a restaurant, I Google for restaurants in the area, click a link that takes me to a comparison site such as http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk, where I scan through the reviews until I see a restaurant that looks good, then I 'phone it using the number on the comparison site.

I can't see any advantage in going to a restaurant site, because I already know what type of food it does, whether it's good, its location and its phone number. But I'm totally willing to learn, and maybe there are faster ways than the one I just outlined, so what's your system for finding a good restaurant that depends on its Website?

Full disclosure: my partner is researching setting up a restaurant.

almost 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Hi Pete, though I do use TripAdvisor when I'm on a desktop, on my mobile I just tend to go on Google Maps and search in my vicinity for the type of food that I want (e.g. 'Vietnamese Restaurant').

But as you said, there are certainly other mobile marketing channels that restaurants need to take into account, with TripAdvisor being one of them. Google Places For Business is equally important, as that's how they ensure they appear in Google Maps and gain extra space in search results. You can read more about it here: https://econsultancy.com/blog/10850-why-businesses-should-be-using-google-local

But in general, all businesses should have a mobile website as that's increasingly how people are accessing the internet (and I know Econsultancy doesn't have a mobile site, but we will soon!).

almost 3 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Thanks David, that's extremely useful.

almost 3 years ago

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Michael

I always use Yelp for bars, restaurants, small local shops, or food specific searches like 'brunch' or 'bloody mary'. It's a great app generally providing menus, hours of operation, independant user reviews, promotions, photos of food/drink and atmosphere offered, and a link to the establishments website if needed. If you're not on Yelp, you're simply missing out!

almost 3 years ago

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Paul Sharp

Who chooses a restaurant based on the restaurant's own marketing?

I would only select one based on reviews, so tripadvisor, toptable and the many other sources of diner and critic reviews are where I'd go to find a local restaurant worth eating at. Although a restaurant should have a mobile optimised site as a hygiene factor, they really just need great reviews to do well.

almost 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

I think the mobile user journey takes in a few sites - perhaps they'll find some reviews from TripAdvisor or from Google local listings, but you still need restaurants to have mobile sites so you can check out the menus and prices, book direct etc.

Ideally, a restaurant would have a detailed Google Local listing, some good reviews, and a site that caters (pardon the pun) for mobile users.

almost 3 years ago

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Sophie Baxter

Take a look at ww.jamesmartinmanchester.com on your phone and let me know any thoughts on this mobile site.
We are a new Restaurant so all comments are welcome.

Thanks

Sophie

almost 3 years ago

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Anthony Leaton

I do agree with the findings in the article. However as a holistic marketeer we need to clarify the steps in the pre-conversion path in the Google study about mobile devices. Was it only using Google Maps, Google devices, incorporated apps, standalone apps, a mixture of one or more. In addition we need to understand what provoked the call? Was it near the time of the booking, in a densely populated / popular area? These factors and many more are important before making statements about calls to action. I would say however that probably many people have accidentally pressed the 'call' button but did not complete the call [as that's outside Google's tracking remit].

However, many mobile devices already have restaurant dedicated apps with photos, menus, booking calenders etc etc and I'm guessing until restaurants start looking at a more comprehensive local based marketing - The Fork & Top Table etc etc are going to continue to take their pound of flesh!

I'm shocked that you didn't use FourSquare. Being a big fan of FourSquare and having traveled quite a lot I have found many bars and restaurants off the Google scope. From New York to Berlin I've made decisions based on real life and not staged photos. But that might just be me!

With the introduction of Google Plus many business owners are forced to go social than just to have a 'write a review' and 'upload photo' option like before. Google Places rocked, it was simple, accessible and effective. Nowadays, I quite often find results from Google maps inadequate. A great example of Google Map failures is with finding petrol stations. Try using Google maps in between cities in countries like Spain and France and you don't get a lot of helpful results. Many relevant results are OFF the first page

I do agree that responsive sites ought to be where a restaurant needs a reasonable amount of marketing investment. However, I believe most restaurants just need to keep their site's simple. Many still use flash.

There's a host of low cost responsive templates from WP and ThemeForest to answer this need. However I believe that restaurants have to consider a more holistic approach to geo-local marketing.

All in all I believe in the power of geo-local based marketing techniques. If there are any readers who know of more comprehensive studies with touch to call - then I'd appreciate any links!

almost 3 years ago

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Zak Tomlinson

I guess, it is good enough that restaurants have some presence on the Internet at all. If you think about it, many restaurants don't have someone to deal with marketing at all. And if they do, it is 1-2 people who think that online marketing is too innovative for restaurant business. There are exceptions, of course...

I am pretty sure, restaurants don't think about websites or listings in Tripadvisor and Google Maps, unless someone offers them.

almost 3 years ago

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