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This is a call to all restaurants, chain or non-chain: having a mobile optimised site is an absolute must for driving the ravenous hordes through your doors.
Whether it’s a separate mobile-site, a responsively designed site or an adaptive one, if you want to capture the attention of the empty stomach as it wanders the street getting progressively more hungry-angry (hangry) then you have to provide a decent mobile presence.
Other restaurants may not necessarily be better than yours, but will they will beat you in the dinner rush if your website remains in its desktop form.
You don’t need a fully featured work of creative genius, just a simple, functional, easy-to-read, easy-to-navigate site that puts the most vital information to the fore.
Personally I believe the most necessary information or features that a restaurant’s mobile site should provide are as follows:
- Mobile optimised
- Accurate location-based services
- Ability to reserve a table online
- Opening times
- Easily viewable menu (strictly no PDFs)
It’s on the above basis that I’ll be taking a look at the most popular UK restaurants and seeing which one serves up the tastiest goods (in the mobile website sense of the phrase, you of course understand).
Scores out of 10 are based on my own opinion and don't reflect the quality of the restaurant itself or its food. Or my own current state of hunger.
Mobile optimised: certainly, and it seems to be nicely adaptive to all screen sizes, losing more ephemeral features as it shrinks down.
Location based services: there are two ways to find your nearest Jamie’s. Both options are on the home screen. Type in your town or postcode or if you don’t know the postcode (or if it’s been a particularly uh... ‘social’ day and you’ve forgotten what town you’re in) you can cycle through a list of locations.
The postcode input field isn’t the most legible interface, thanks to the restaurant’s fancy typeface, but at least it recognises the postcode when you forget to put a space in between.
The links are quite fiddly here and it smacks of unnecessary information overload.
The Leeds branch is a handy 169.32 miles away.
It would be far better if the site used geolocation and provided the user with information on the nearest restaurant immediately.
Ability to reserve a table online: absolutely, it’s achieved through a third party site, but it’s fully mobile optimised, clear, quick and takes little effort. Plus you don’t have to register with the site, it just needs your name, number and email address.
Click-to-call: there is unfortunately no ability for click-to-call if booking online is not your thing. The phone number itself is buried quite far down the location’s screen.
Opening times: opening times are buried further below the phone number.
Easily viewable menu: a horrendous slow-loading PDF pinch and squint experience.
Mobile optimised: very matter-of-fact separate mobile site full of pure unadulterated menu.
Location based services: Prezzo uses geolocation, so within three taps from the home screen I have found my nearest branch. There is also a Google Map button on each branch’s landing page.
Ability to reserve a table online: Prezzo uses exactly the same third party site as Jamie’s Italian, so a thumbs up here for ease of use.
Click-to-call: easily accessible click-to-call button from the branch’s landing page.
Opening times: again, easily viewable on the branch landing page.
Easily viewable menu: nobody’s winning any awards for aesthetics here, but Prezzo provides an easily readable and navigable version of its menu that would put other restaurants to shame.
Mobile optimised: an attractive mobile version of its desktop site, capturing the personality of the brand with easily navigable functionality.
Location based services: geolocation is used to find your nearest branch straight away, postcode and city input is easy to use, although there doesn’t seem to be any map links (Google or otherwise).
Ability to reserve a table online: there’s no transfer to third-party here, it’s all done in-house. It’s easy enough to do, with minimal screens and personal details needed, however I’ve noticed that here, and around the site in general, the text is miniscule.
Click-to-call: present and correct on each branch landing page. It’s clear that the number is a clickable link, although again the text is tiny.
Opening times: see above.
Easily viewable menu: thankfully these are easily accessible and navigable within each branch’s landing page, but again with poorly optimised text. Also if you access the menu from the very first home screen you don’t get the prices. It’s not clear that you will see them when you pick a location.
Mobile optimised: an adaptive site, although the layout and colour choices aren’t conducive to quick navigation as it takes a little while to clearly see what exactly is on offer here.
Location based services: geolocation takes you through directly to your nearest restaurant and immediately offers up that restaurant’s booking form.
Ability to reserve a table online: all in-house, so no third-party redirect. Minimal details needed and the fewest screens to navigate yet. Plus the fact that you’re taken directly to the form is brilliant.
Click-to-call: although not obvious, all the phone numbers are clickable and are present throughout every stage of the journey.
Opening times: available on each branch’s landing page.
Easily viewable menu: as well as being very easy to find, the menu is easy to read and navigate. Unlike the Pizza Express website, there’s a drop down menu at the top that allows you to pick a location in order to see that respective restaurant’s prices.
Mobile optimised: nope
Location based services: again nope
Ability to reserve a table online: not without straining.
Click-to-call: definitely not.
Opening times: sure, if you like squinting.
Easily viewable menu: see above.
It does have an Instagram account though. Which seems like a cruel tease.
Café Rouge uses exactly the same platform as Prezzo, so rather than repeat myself or go crazy with the copy & paste, I’ll just say 'see Prezzo' and leave the same score below.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Much like Giraffe, GBK has no mobile optimised site of any kind. It does offer an app on its desktop site (if you can possibly see that on your mobile) but frankly an app download in this circumstance is the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve in terms of ease of use and speed.
Mobile optimised: it’s an adaptive experience, but not a particularly pleasant one. For a start there’s a huge carousel that doesn’t even fit on the home screen. Then there’s the lack of obvious links to anything useful.
Location based services: hidden within the hamburger menu is a geolocation service to find your nearest branch. Each branch is presented with an integrated Google map, which is terribly handy. Although less handy are the floating menu buttons that obstruct your view.
Ability to reserve a table online: do you book a table for Nando’s? Can you book a table at Nando’s? I’ve just been told no.
Click-to-call: there is a number for each branch but unfortunately it’s not clickable.
Opening times: clearly stated within each branch’s landing page.
Easily viewable menu: not the easiest menu to navigate, being as it’s littered with options, varying typefaces and colours, and the option to download a PDF before you get to the menu itself.
Although once you’re there it’s easy to read and states prices clearly. Those floating buttons do get in the way though.
But hey, if you click on the little heart buttons, it does give you a calorie count at the top of the screen.
Hmm, probably shouldn’t have loaded up on halloumi at the start.
Mobile optimised: very tasteful, very clear, a nice mobile specific site that carries over the look and feel of the desktop version.
Location based services: geolocation or simple postcode/town finder reveals my nearest restaurant, and here it’s clearly denoted in red.
Ability to reserve a table online: the same third party site that Jamie’s and Prezzo uses, however you can click through to it directly from the list of nearest restaurants, thus removing a step.
Click-to-call: again you can do this directly from the list of nearest locations.
Opening times: can be found on each branch’s landing page, which incidentally is laid out very beautifully, on a single screen with subtle call-to-action buttons, super-tasteful colouring and clear text.
Easily viewable menu: the menu is smooth and quick to navigate, and the ability to choose a restaurant from the top drop-down menu means you can get accurate pricing too.
Mobile optimised: it’s a responsive site, with a carousel that completely alters the home screen at regular intervals. Useful links are not obvious to find. As a user I feel we’re more familiar with hamburger menus than the little arrow at the top right corner.
Location based services: tiny postcode entry field, which then takes you through to another location search screen.
This is frustrating until you realise that your nearest branches are a swipe down away.
Ability to reserve a table online: you can book a table from the list of nearest branches, but not, bizarrely, from the branch’s specific landing page.
The booking screen itself is full of awkward design (the number of guests ‘slider’) and extraneous information.
Click-to-call: unfortunately no
Opening times: available on each branch’s landing page.
Easily viewable menu: it’s a novel idea, presenting dishes in a word cloud format, however in practice on a mobile it’s not the most fluid of features.
Dishes are presented attractively, complete with images, however there’s a lack of price information.