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This is a call to all restaurants, chain or non-chain: having a mobile optimised site is an absolute must for driving the ravenous hordes through your doors.

Whether it’s a separate mobile-site, a responsively designed site or an adaptive one, if you want to capture the attention of the empty stomach as it wanders the street getting progressively more hungry-angry (hangry) then you have to provide a decent mobile presence. 

Other restaurants may not necessarily be better than yours, but will they will beat you in the dinner rush if your website remains in its desktop form.

You don’t need a fully featured work of creative genius, just a simple, functional, easy-to-read, easy-to-navigate site that puts the most vital information to the fore.

Personally I believe the most necessary information or features that a restaurant’s mobile site should provide are as follows:

  • Mobile optimised
  • Accurate location-based services
  • Ability to reserve a table online
  • Click-to-call
  • Opening times
  • Easily viewable menu (strictly no PDFs)

It’s on the above basis that I’ll be taking a look at the most popular UK restaurants and seeing which one serves up the tastiest goods (in the mobile website sense of the phrase, you of course understand).

Scores out of 10 are based on my own opinion and don't reflect the quality of the restaurant itself or its food. Or my own current state of hunger.

Jamie’s Italian 

Mobile optimised: certainly, and it seems to be nicely adaptive to all screen sizes, losing more ephemeral features as it shrinks down.  

Location based services: there are two ways to find your nearest Jamie’s. Both options are on the home screen. Type in your town or postcode or if you don’t know the postcode (or if it’s been a particularly uh... ‘social’ day and you’ve forgotten what town you’re in) you can cycle through a list of locations. 

The postcode input field isn’t the most legible interface, thanks to the restaurant’s fancy typeface, but at least it recognises the postcode when you forget to put a space in between.

The links are quite fiddly here and it smacks of unnecessary information overload.

The Leeds branch is a handy 169.32 miles away.

It would be far better if the site used geolocation and provided the user with information on the nearest restaurant immediately.

Ability to reserve a table online: absolutely, it’s achieved through a third party site, but it’s fully mobile optimised, clear, quick and takes little effort. Plus you don’t have to register with the site, it just needs your name, number and email address.

Click-to-call: there is unfortunately no ability for click-to-call if booking online is not your thing. The phone number itself is buried quite far down the location’s screen.

Opening times: opening times are buried further below the phone number. 

Easily viewable menu: a horrendous slow-loading PDF pinch and squint experience.

Score: 6/10

Prezzo 

Mobile optimised: very matter-of-fact separate mobile site full of pure unadulterated menu. 

Location based services: Prezzo uses geolocation, so within three taps from the home screen I have found my nearest branch. There is also a Google Map button on each branch’s landing page.

Ability to reserve a table online: Prezzo uses exactly the same third party site as Jamie’s Italian, so a thumbs up here for ease of use.

Click-to-call: easily accessible click-to-call button from the branch’s landing page. 

Opening times: again, easily viewable on the branch landing page.

Easily viewable menu: nobody’s winning any awards for aesthetics here, but Prezzo provides an easily readable and navigable version of its menu that would put other restaurants to shame.

Score: 8/10

Pizza Express

Mobile optimised: an attractive mobile version of its desktop site, capturing the personality of the brand with easily navigable functionality.

Location based services: geolocation is used to find your nearest branch straight away, postcode and city input is easy to use, although there doesn’t seem to be any map links (Google or otherwise).

Ability to reserve a table online: there’s no transfer to third-party here, it’s all done in-house. It’s easy enough to do, with minimal screens and personal details needed, however I’ve noticed that here, and around the site in general, the text is miniscule.

Click-to-call: present and correct on each branch landing page. It’s clear that the number is a clickable link, although again the text is tiny.

Opening times: see above. 

Easily viewable menu: thankfully these are easily accessible and navigable within each branch’s landing page, but again with poorly optimised text. Also if you access the menu from the very first home screen you don’t get the prices. It’s not clear that you will see them when you pick a location. 

Score: 7/10

Zizzi 

Mobile optimised: an adaptive site, although the layout and colour choices aren’t conducive to quick navigation as it takes a little while to clearly see what exactly is on offer here. 

Location based services: geolocation takes you through directly to your nearest restaurant and immediately offers up that restaurant’s booking form. 

Ability to reserve a table online: all in-house, so no third-party redirect. Minimal details needed and the fewest screens to navigate yet. Plus the fact that you’re taken directly to the form is brilliant.

Click-to-call: although not obvious, all the phone numbers are clickable and are present throughout every stage of the journey.

Opening times: available on each branch’s landing page.

Easily viewable menu: as well as being very easy to find, the menu is easy to read and navigate. Unlike the Pizza Express website, there’s a drop down menu  at the top that allows you to pick a location in order to see that respective restaurant’s prices.

Score: 8/10

Giraffe

Mobile optimised: nope

Location based services: again nope

Ability to reserve a table online: not without straining.

Click-to-call: definitely not.

Opening times: sure, if you like squinting.

Easily viewable menu: see above.

It does have an Instagram account though. Which seems like a cruel tease.

Score: 0/10

Café Rouge 

Café Rouge uses exactly the same platform as Prezzo, so rather than repeat myself or go crazy with the copy & paste, I’ll just say 'see Prezzo' and leave the same score below.

Score: 8/10

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Much like Giraffe, GBK has no mobile optimised site of any kind. It does offer an app on its desktop site (if you can possibly see that on your mobile) but frankly an app download in this circumstance is the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve in terms of ease of use and speed.

Score: 1/10 

Nando’s 

Mobile optimised: it’s an adaptive experience, but not a particularly pleasant one. For a start there’s a huge carousel that doesn’t even fit on the home screen. Then there’s the lack of obvious links to anything useful. 

Location based services: hidden within the hamburger menu is a geolocation service to find your nearest branch. Each branch is presented with an integrated Google map, which is terribly handy. Although less handy are the floating menu buttons that obstruct your view.

Ability to reserve a table online: do you book a table for Nando’s? Can you book a table at Nando’s? I’ve just been told no.

Click-to-call: there is a number for each branch but unfortunately it’s not clickable.

Opening times: clearly stated within each branch’s landing page.

Easily viewable menu: not the easiest menu to navigate, being as it’s littered with options, varying typefaces and colours, and the option to download a PDF before you get to the menu itself.

Although once you’re there it’s easy to read and states prices clearly. Those floating buttons do get in the way though.

But hey, if you click on the little heart buttons, it does give you a calorie count at the top of the screen.

Hmm, probably shouldn’t have loaded up on halloumi at the start. 

Score: 5/10

Ask 

Mobile optimised: very tasteful, very clear, a nice mobile specific site that carries over the look and feel of the desktop version.

Location based services: geolocation or simple postcode/town finder reveals my nearest restaurant, and here it’s clearly denoted in red. 

Ability to reserve a table online: the same third party site that Jamie’s and Prezzo uses, however you can click through to it directly from the list of nearest restaurants, thus removing a step. 

Click-to-call: again you can do this directly from the list of nearest locations.

Opening times: can be found on each branch’s landing page, which incidentally is laid out very beautifully, on a single screen with subtle call-to-action buttons, super-tasteful colouring and clear text.

Easily viewable menu: the menu is smooth and quick to navigate, and the ability to choose a restaurant from the top drop-down menu means you can get accurate pricing too.

Score: 9/10

Wagamama 

Mobile optimised: it’s a responsive site, with a carousel that completely alters the home screen at regular intervals. Useful links are not obvious to find. As a user I feel we’re more familiar with hamburger menus than the little arrow at the top right corner. 

Location based services: tiny postcode entry field, which then takes you through to another location search screen. 

This is frustrating until you realise that your nearest branches are a swipe down away.

Ability to reserve a table online: you can book a table from the list of nearest branches, but not, bizarrely, from the branch’s specific landing page.

 

The booking screen itself is full of awkward design (the number of guests ‘slider’) and extraneous information.

Click-to-call: unfortunately no

Opening times: available on each branch’s landing page.

Easily viewable menu: it’s a novel idea, presenting dishes in a word cloud format, however in practice on a mobile it’s not the most fluid of features. 

Dishes are presented attractively, complete with images, however there’s a lack of price information.

Score: 3/10

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 25 June, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

686 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Yoda London

Christopher,
This article is spot on. We undertook some work for a restaurant recently and designed them a fully responsive site that has performed very well on mobile devices. Too many places still don't understand how important a fully functional website is but it is defiantly the way forward.
(This article also made me very hungry!)

over 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

I don't understand the logic in saying that for "all restaurants, all restaurants, chain or non-chain: having a mobile optimised site is an absolute must".

There are quite a lot of fish and chip restaurants near my home town of, so as an experiment I searched on Google for: fish and chips eastleigh hampshire uk". Here's the URL for you to click:
https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=fish+and+chips+eastleigh+hampshire+uk

The results I see on the first page are, from the top:
tripadvisor.co.uk * 2 (a travel site)
yell.com * 2 (a business directory)
plus.google.com * 7 (a business directory)
scoot.co.uk * 3 (a business directory)
tripadvisor.co.uk (a travel site)
thompsonlocal.com (a business directory)
yelp.co.uk (a business directory)

In summary, the first search results page has zero websites for restaurants, but lots of business directory entries for restaurants

So shouldn't small restaurant owner use all their efforts to perfect their entries in the business directories which are on the first page, not their Websites which - on this evidence - aren't?

over 2 years ago

Thomas Frame

Thomas Frame, Managing Director at Etch UK Ltd.Small Business

Similarly, we have been doing a lot of work with booking engine integration for Hotels that have Restaurants and Spa's etc... A lot of the booking technology is legacy stuff that can make it costly to properly integrate for a good CX, but the ones that we have completed have shown huge jumps in conversions and bookings. One of the hotels we work with are now achieving close to 80% of their bookings via their website.

about 2 years ago

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Dave Wrightson, Director at Engage Interactive

Nice write up and comparison. We've done a lot of work for restaurant clients, and speed is absolutely essential for mobile restaurant sites as a large proportion of their traffic is from 3G connections.

Just one correction - Giraffe does have a mobile site: http://m.giraffe.net

over 1 year ago

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Dom Mernock, Head of Digital Marketing at Engage Interactive

Like it! We did a deeper dive into some of the browsing habits of restaurant customers on a mobile device, link here - http://bit.ly/1Cg9eLR

Thought you might enjoy it!

over 1 year ago

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Matt D, Marketing Executive at Personal

Dom - very nice site you have there (love the interactions on scroll). Would have got top marks from me if it was responsive or you had a mobile version. Looks like you done a great job with Beefeater too!

over 1 year ago

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Dom Mernock, Head of Digital Marketing at Engage Interactive

Thanks Matt! Watch this space... we may have just what you're looking for very soon!

over 1 year ago

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