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The secret

to to good good website design The key to unlocking a website that works. By Erik Shellenberger


our bar’s website is a tool to increase business and help new customers find you—plain and simple. I read a statistic a few years back that said by 2020 websites will be obsolete. Here in the latter part of 2018, we aren’t quite there yet, but we’re slowly closing in on this. These days, almost everything the customer is looking for can be found on Google’s Knowledge Card—you know, that box to the right of a search that has all of your info in it? Pictures, contact info, reviews, menus, pretty much anything that your website offers is here as well. Only Google’s information is a bit better because it offers a non-biased view and includes user-generated pictures and reviews. Your website only shows the highlight reel of what you have cherry-picked for the public to see. You absolutely need a website though, as Google needs a source to pull information from. A website’s cost is all over the board, and just like a used car, it’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay. The clients I’ve talked to have all for the 38

Bar Business Magazine

most part either overpaid considerably or went entirely in the other direction and tried to pull it off themselves with results that look similar to a Myspace page circa 2003. I’ve been in the web design business for a decade and am now retired for one reason: Trying to pry the content from a client is next to impossible. The web designer’s job is to put the building blocks of a website together in an attractive and user-friendly way. When the client refuses (or forgets, or doesn’t have any content, or doesn’t understand) to give the designer these building blocks, one thing happens almost every single time. We wait. And wait. And then the client inevitably asks how the progress is going, and the designer replies with something like, “Well, I’ve been waiting for your content for a few months and have followed up a few dozen times without a response.” There are two different schools of thought when it comes to web design: The designer who needs to get the content from the restaurant owner before they can begin, and the guy who creates it themselves. The guy who creates it themselves usually has a photographer, a PR firm, a copywriter, and an Internet marketer on staff. What does this equal? Big bucks. If you have unlimited funds and zero content of your own, then this is a great option. Creating content isn’t cheap, and a full service firm like this may be your best bet. These guys will charge north of $10,000 so be

ready for some sticker shock. I’m the other guy for a reason. My approach, which is also the most common approach by far, is realistic for almost any restaurant on any budget. A website these days should cost you about $1500, keeping in mind that the content is on you, the business owner. You need to hire the photographer. You need to supply the copy and the contact info. The $1500 designer is arranging the building blocks you provide. If you want a website designed for a new concept that doesn’t yet exist, keep this in mind when hiring a web designer. You can’t hand him or her building blocks that don’t yet exist, so manage expectations accordingly. A designer cannot give you a finished product when all he has to go off of is a logo and an empty building. In cases like this, the website is the final step, not the first step. You can by all means have a “coming soon” page with an email collection tool and some basic contact info at this point. Just remember to send an email out when you open as promised. While in the planning stages of a website, business owners will inevitably do one thing 100% of the time: They look up their competition or similar concepts in bigger cities and say they want their site to mimic one of these examples. They aren’t looking at the architecture of the site or the readability. They definitely aren’t referring to how easy they are to find in an online search. Like a high school kid searching for a prom date, they are shopping looks and looks alone. A website should be attractive, yes. But remember your website is there to inform your customers and to drive business. The most important thing is definitely not looks. It’s visibility. You could have the most beautiful work-ofart website in the world, but if people can’t find you online, then you’ve created the online equivalent of an idiot supermodel. Online search visibility and search engine ranking is at an all-time high level of competition and only getting more intense moving into the future. These days, the undecided customer will find you through either Google, Yelp, or TripAdvisor. People don’t go to social media to search for a new

September 2018 barbizmag.com

Photo: Shutterstock/ Symonenko Viktoriia.

website design

Profile for Bar Business Magazine

Bar Business September 2018  

This issue features stories on leasing, projectors, dessert cocktails, bar setup, web design, cherries in cocktails, and more.

Bar Business September 2018  

This issue features stories on leasing, projectors, dessert cocktails, bar setup, web design, cherries in cocktails, and more.