Open letter to restaurant owners:
On behalf of countless frustrated potential customers (OK, I haven't actually tried to count them; you should see my e-mail inbox), I'd like to share a few suggestions about your website.
First and foremost, if you don't have a website, by all means get one! I'd say most restaurants have websites nowadays, which makes those who don't the modern equivalent of a 20th-century business without a phone. If you can't afford a website, then set up a Facebook page. It's free, and you might even get some helpful feedback.
Having a website "under construction" doesn't count, especially if the little man with the hard hat is still the only thing on the site after you've been open six months.
Research website hosts and pick a good one. Then stick with it. Nothing is more frustrating for us - or bad for your business - than going to your restaurant's website to get hours or directions and finding that the site no longer exists.
Speaking of hours and location, that information, as well as your phone number, should be on your front page, not buried under the "make a reservation" or "contact us" tab. A link to your menu (bonus points for a printable version) should also be easy to find.
Pictures of your dining room and food are helpful, too, though not essential. Whatever you do, though, don't load up your site with a lot of animated stuff that takes forever to load.
Keep the site up to date. That includes menu changes, food and drink specials, entertainment schedule and special events.
Oh, and please 86 the music! Or at least give us an easy-to-find off button. Believe me, just because we're interested in your food doesn't mean we share your taste in music.
Of course, if you're in the restaurant business as a hobby or a tax shelter and aren't really interested in making money, feel free to ignore these suggestions. You're doing just fine.