Noel Tock on better restaurant websites

.net: What's the problem with most restaurant sites? And what's your personal pet hate?
Noel Tock: Always a good question! The biggest problem is also my pet peeve; a restaurant owner thinking that the ambience and dcor of their restaurant should be reflected on the website, usually with no regard for standards, accessibility or most importantly, the potential clients themselves. This will oftentimes include showing a splash screen, playing the same music as in the restaurant itself or simply having a maze of Flash content because of the 'snazzy' effects. In the process, some of the most important pieces of content are lost; clearly available opening times, location, food menus and so on. With happytables, we’re changing that.

.net: Why did you create
NT: Largely for two reasons. On the one hand it’s an honest attempt for promoting our business without the use of interruption marketing or questionable patterns. Optimally, we’d love to be able to grow purely off organic traffic and word of mouth (even if that means waiting a little longer). It had originally taken me a day to get the design ideas coded (combining WordPress and LESS is a fast workflow) and another for putting together the content. What I launched was essentially the minimum viable product, a way to test out an idea without investing too much time in it. In other words, it’s the prototype of a larger idea.

On the other hand, we’re big believers of open source (our entire restaurant framework is on github) so we’re never too worried about putting out quality content or letting the web know what we’re up too. Originally, the idea was to create this sort of content for our own users, to serve as a best practices guide (we provide them with a website, but we can’t make photography decisions for them). After brainstorming the concept every few weeks, I ultimately decided on a site that was detached from happytables. The visual design just clicked from one moment to the next and I spent the next 12 hours coding it up in-browser.

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