By Brad Pierce, President Restaurant Equipment World
Nearly 10 years ago, I built the first mobile site in the foodservice industry. While I may have made my mother proud, no one else cared or ever used it. Today, however, the pendulum has made a complete swing. The mobile revolution is here and the time for operators to embrace it is now. Here are a few items to keep in mind during this process.
– It’s the Same, but Different: A mobile version of a web site should keep many of the same design elements of the original-browser web site, including colors, graphics and themes. Keep branding consistent among all platforms, even though an actual mobile layout will be a bit more compact to accommodate user navigation on smaller screens.
– An Easy Entrance: Don’t make customers hunt and peck around your organization’s site or make them remember a special url for a mobile version. Instead, have web developers add redirection rules to the original site configuration files. This way, when customers visit from a mobile device, they’ll automatically be sent to the mobile version of your web site. This takes less than 5 minutes to implement and customers will appreciate the ease of use.
– Flash Is Not Your Friend: All of us have seen plenty of sites with rotating graphics and lots of animated features. That’s great for standard browser sites, but it’s a big no-no when it comes to mobile sites. The reason is that most mobile browsers don’t support Flash. Instead of getting your site, existing and potential customers will just be greeted by a message that their browser isn’t compatible, and they’ll go elsewhere.
– Show Me the Menu: There are countless foodservice sites that show PDF versions of their menu to visitors. That’s fine for a normal site but, once again, it’s not the right solution for mobile browsers. While PDFs can often be opened with mobile devices, they tend to be cumbersome to navigate. Instead, menus should be available as plain text on mobile web sites. Your customers will appreciate being able to see all offerings in an easy to use format.
– Thumbs Up: Encourage customers to post online reviews, as they really do help to drive traffic in the door. The last time I was traveling, I was looking for a good BBQ restaurant. I fired up my Blackberry and found two restaurants equal distances from my hotel. One had no customer reviews and the other one had several favorable ones. Needless to say, I had a great BBQ dinner at the reviewed restaurant!
I’ve got to go now and give my thumbs a rest… In keeping with the spirit of this article, this entire blog was composed on my Blackberry!