At the end of the month, I’m going to Brooklyn with my significant other for a show.
Because we’re the consummate researchers, we like to scope out the area ahead of time and create our own Google map with restaurants, breweries and bookstores that look interesting to us. Having the research done BEFORE the trip lets us avoid spending half the trip on our phones, trying to figure out where to go and what to do next.
So… what does this have to do with websites? Well, the reason I share this with you (other than Google maps are cool and fun) is the process by which we determine what goes on the map.
I know I mentioned restaurants, breweries and bookstores, but to simplify, let’s just talk about restaurants. If your restaurant doesn’t have a website, the chances of you making it on the map are slim. And if you’re not on the map, the chances of us visiting your establishment are even more slim. No website, no visit.
We, and dare I say many potential customers, glean a lot from a business’s website. I need to know where you’re located, when you’re open and what’s going on there. Are you having a special event? Do you have vegetarian options? Do I need a reservation? Is your food in my price range?
We also take it a step further. If your website is hard to navigate, slow to load, doesn’t have the information we want or is otherwise terrible, outdated or looks like crap, you probably won’t make it on the map either.
People judge you on your website. This shouldn’t be a surprise because people judge you on other aspects of your business, too. For example, what do other people say about your restaurant (what are your online reviews like)? How long is the wait? How crowded are you at the time I want to go? Is your restaurant clean? Is your wait staff friendly? Will there be an overabundance of hipsters there?
If your website is no good, I deduce that you don’t take your business very seriously and your place may be no good as well.
Using what’s available (and trustworthy)
I understand that there are probably lots of awesome restaurants who don’t have a website or who have an outdated one. The problem as a traveler is — how do I find out about these places? If I don’t know any locals or have anyone on the inside to show me around and give me the scoop, I have to rely on the information that is available to me.
And that includes your website. Your awesome, fast-loading, informational, user-friendly, not-too-pretentious website. (And even though we’ve never met, I trust you and your website more than I trust Yelp, Foursquare or Facebook reviews.)
If you’re curious, here’s our map. Color and icon-coded, too, because that’s how we roll.