Something that has bothered me for years is the odd trend for restaurants to try to make their websites entertainment instead of a source of information. When designing a site for your business, your primary concern should be usability and ease of access for your potential customers.

People come to your site in order to find information: locations, menus, ingredients, reservations, and — in the case of people who have a cross-purpose to visit a celiac website — food handling precautions and experience. People are going to restaurant websites to get information, not for entertainment. If you make it hard to find things, if you make the site slow, obscure and annoying to find that information, then not only will people just leave your website, but they won’t bother coming in to your restaurant at all.

All of that flashy animation, the obscure unlabeled icons that have no obvious meaning, and the forced viewing of “entertainment” pieces only serve to hide the things people are interested in behind a maze of button clicks. These things to not make your restaurant more memorable or seem more trendy, it just annoys and angers the users who came to your site for information.

Lose the flash animations and flash menus. Lose the graphics-only icons. Lose the meaningless “funny” page and link names that do not explain what people are navigating to. Lose the maze-like architecture. Allow people to find what they need and go. The web is not like an grocery store shopping experience — forcing people to stay longer to get what they want will not lead to more conversions, it will just lead to them abandoning the thing that does make you money, coming in person to eat. So move the virtual-milk and eggs to the front of the store and easily locatable.

When you want a site for business, approach it from that perspective; because when people are online to have fun they will go to an entertainment site, not a restaurant’s website. The key word here is usability. If you are designing a site yourself, remember that word and learn how to approach things; if you are hiring somebody to make it for you, find somebody who designs from a usability perspective.

If you make it hard to find what I’m looking for online, then I’m not going to convert to a customer.