This is an intervention. The Internet has become well-worn territory, yet many of you are still treating your Web sites like it’s 1996. Users’ attention spans are microscopically short for Web sites, so you want there to be as few barriers as possible between potential customers and your business. In a completely selfish maneuver to make my own pizzeria-Web site-surfing life less stressful, I’ve compiled a list of my top five pizzeria Web site failures:
1. Just The Facts. Stop burying basic information like your location and hours of operation deep within your site. The further I have to dig for these details, the less likely I am to find them. Be specific about hours rather than simply stating “Open for Lunch and Dinner” … because one person’s dinner is another’s late lunch. And remember that the Internet is big, so people who aren’t from your immediate area are likely to view your site. Be thorough with your location information rather than just listing “Sweet Valley Location, Bayside location,” etc. None of those names are helpful if I don’t know what state you’re in.
2. Can the Music. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen victim to a sneak attack by a low-quality version of “That’s Amore” blasting through my computer’s speakers. I get it — you want people who visit your site to know you serve Italian food, but music is usually more annoying than it is useful. If you do insist on a soundtrack, just be sure to provide an obvious mechanism for turning it off or my only alternative will be to exit your site.
3. Menu Me. Stop making me download a PDF of your menu — just publish it directly on the page. Placing a downloadable menu on your site gives the user a reason to opt out, especially since folks are so weary of downloading corrupt files. Having your menu readable as text right on the page may even bump your search engine visibility because of all the keywords embedded in your dish names.
4. Annoying Animation. Ditch the annoying flash intros. One of my favorite pizzerias in the world has a loading page and eventual animation that does nothing but waste time. I have an immediate instinct to close a page as soon as I see the “Loading” bar appear. If I really want to track down info about your pizzeria, it’s easier for me to visit Yelp! and run the risk of seeing some bad reviews. Which do you prefer?
5. Faulty Formatting. Investigate how your site looks on multiple browsers. If it looks different on Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox or the utility of your choice, alert your Web master immediately! It frustrates me to no end when I have to scroll from side to side just to view all the information on a pizzeria page. Don’t forget to check compatibility with mobile devices. Some sites have separate mobile versions, but it’s possible to design one site that will work across the board. Newer smartphones are even able to make details like phone numbers and street addresses clickable so users can dial or view your location on their devices instantly, so be sure your site is formatted in a way that optimizes these options.
Scott Weiner owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.