Website on the menu

Before opening a restaurant the priority is to test out everything that will be involved in preparing and serving meals to customers, so there can be no mistakes later.

Regrettably the same degree of attention is not paid to the digital side of the business, and normally the owner, manager or chef will allow him or herself to be guided by some techie or other who can lead them through the digital maze involved in setting up a website that works faultlessly and is attractive enough to make people want to visit to the restaurant.

Typically the webmaster will have told the client that a .com address is vital, ignoring the fact that this suffix gives no indication as to even which country the business is located in. Much better to go for .es.

Many restaurant websites do not even publish their email addresses as they have been sold on the idea of having a Contact page where enquirers can leave messages. This allows the webmaster to control what is received by the restaurant and to build a database of all those who use the 'service'. For heaven's sake publish the email address!

On many such websites the visitor has to tick a box agreeing to the restaurant's Terms & Conditions before making contact. What amazing stupidity and pomposity. If anyone accepts these terms and conditions they are sacrificing the right to privacy and in some cases the right to make any subsequent claim on the restaurant.

Some misguided souls believe that Facebook is a substitute for a website. Well, maybe it is if you want to turn your back on 50% of potential customers, and even that 50% is becoming more as people become disillusioned with the Zuckerberg community. What is obvious to even a casual observer is that, like other businesses, restaurant operators rush to get a website up and then think nothing else is needed.

I recently asked the owners of 14 restaurants when was the last time they had checked out their websites. Only one had looked at his in the previous three months.