It’s time for another #Yorkshire Site Review and this week it’s a review of The Bon Restaurant and Wine Bar based in Sherburn in Elmet just outside Leeds, family run the restaurant mixes traditional values with modern ideas.
The restaurant has some glowing reviews on Trip Advisor and because we have a keen interest in independent restaurants and marketing them online it was an easy choice for our next site review.
For those of you unfamiliar with our #YorkshireHour site reviews, each week we pick a business and review their website from an SEO/Content/Usability perspective and put our thoughts into a blog post.
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Just like a potential customer would do the first thing we did was run a search in google for the search phrase “the bon restaurant leeds” which will no doubt be the search term of choice for a number of users.
Whether they drove past, heard it was good from a friend or saw some of the reviews on trip advisor they’ll be using search terms akin to that. Because of that it’s important to regularly check what appears for the name of your business.
(Click image to enlarge)
Running brand name searches is always a good starting point when analysing a website as you can get a quick snapshot of how the website appears, potentially spot any indexation problems or reputation management issues such as negative press or bad reviews.
In this case Trip Advisor plays a prominent role occupying 4 of the top 6 results. The Bon has some great reviews from customers and is currently the number #3 restaurant in Leeds out of a mammoth 654! The Trip Advisor listings stand out quite significantly and with a high rating this reflects very well on the restaurant.
If you enlarged the image above you’ll notice that the 1st result in Google is www.thebonrestaurant.co.uk/thanks.htm which isn’t great. The top result naturally gets the most clicks and that page takes you to a booking confirmation page. Not the greatest user experience or the one that a user expects.
Ideally thank you pages shouldn’t be indexable by Google never mind rank above the homepage for a branded search so it’d make sense to no index that page and request a removal of it via Google Webmaster Tools.
If you land on the homepage of the site, you’re immediately presented with a splash page asking you to click to enter. Seen as though we’re now living in the age of instant gratification this really has to go as it’s not only bad for users, it’s also terrible for the search engines like Google.
If a user clicks onto a link, they expect to be greeted with the homepage so it’s important to serve them that rather than make them take an extra step. The use of an intro page also makes it more difficult for mobile users which for a restaurant are becoming increasingly important.
Having one intro page is a bad idea, so as you can well imagine having two is even worse and sadly The Bon makes this mistake and presents the user with a secondary page informing them of the Social profiles and the Christmas menu.
This means a user has to make 2 clicks to get to the full site, extra effort and not what the user expects.
These 2 intro/splash pages need to be scrapped.
The Christmas menu is of course important however so we’d recommend using a one time pop up on the homepage advertising the menu, however once the user closes it, their preference is remembered for the duration of their visit.
Any restaurant website that wants to maximise the number of online bookings it receives has to be easy to use. A user has to be able to find what they’re looking which is very often: the menu, the opening hours and how to book a table.
So let’s take a look at how The Bon stacks up…
In our restaurant web site do’s and don’ts post earlier in the year we said that .pdf menus have to be a thing of the past.
It’s ok offering them as an alternative for users to download if they wish but a restaurants primary menu has to be easily accessible. Having to download a file is not only faffy, it requires external software to read it.
In short PDFS are great for print but no good for online, and some usability experts like Jakob Nielsen go as far saying they are unfit for human consumption.
Many restaurateurs will argue that updating the menu is a lot harder than uploading a .pdf but with the right content management system behind the website that’s not always the case. It might take a little more effort but the rewards are worth it.
White text on dark background is notoriously hard to read and that’s the case on The Bon website. The website has some areas that are really bright and others that are pitch black, this makes following text with the eye rather tricky.
The dark background also reduces the impact that other elements of the page have. Logos/Awards/Accreditations don’t stand out as much and it can draw the eye away from key elements of the page.
This is very much a problem for mobile users as dark backgrounds don’t look great on mobile phone screens and when you consider that an increasing number of users are browsing via iPhones and iPads this needs to be addressed.
Food Photography by Alison Raven.
The Bon website has a great gallery featuring all aspects of the restaurant; the interior, starters, mains and desserts. Food photography is often an area that many restaurants let themselves down with but The Bon excels here.
There are no stock photos and every single one of the dishes looks beautifully presented and appetising; which will clearly be a draw to potential customers who haven’t visited the restaurant before.
A standalone gallery is a must for any restaurant website but it’d make sense to incorporate this photography into other areas of the site. Pictures can really sell a place more than words can so by utilising them in key areas of the site e.g. on the about page, in sidebars and also on a blog would work perfectly.
We’d also like to the see the pictures in the gallery come with a caption with the name of dish, that way people can associate the images they see with the items on the menu.
Invariably some people enter a restaurant with a good idea of what they’re going to order so by naming the pictures in the gallery this helps them out and may just entice them in that little bit more.
Many restaurants neglect the fact their kitchen operations and chefs can be a key selling point so including a “Behind the Scenes” feature like The Bon have done is a great idea.
It opens up the business and allows potential customers to get a feel for the restaurant before they’ve even set foot through the door. Images, the Head Chefs history give a restaurant that air of credibility.
This page could easily be expanded on and could form a great section to open up the business even more with information about the owners, the waiting staff and how they all work together as a team to provide a great dining experience.
Trip Advisor is fast becoming the website of choice for members of the public looking for places to eat out. The Bon has some great reviews on there and they link through to them in the bottom corner of the site.
Showing social proof on any website is a great idea so utilising Trip Advisor badges is extremely worthwhile. Its worth noting that Trip Advisor also allow embeddable widgets such as the adapted one we included below. This updates automatically so there’s no having to manually update testimonials on your site to the latest ones.
The Bon has some great content and photography to help sell the restaurant but in our opinion it just needs repurposing into a more user friendly approach.
Whereas many restaurants have a nice looking website but can’t back it up with the quality of their food it’s clear from the glowing reviews that The Bon Restaurant & Wine bar is the reverse, they have the fantastic cuisine but the website is lacking in a few areas that with the right tweaks could easily further improve the restaurants perception from customers, increase the amount of traffic it receives, generate email signups (a must for restaurants) and more importantly mirror the experience that customers get when they dine there.
Whenever you’re designing a website it’s important that you always put the user first and that’s what needs to happen here. We particularly like Peter Morville’s honeycomb approach to User Experience:
The Bon’s website certainly ticks some of those boxes or honeycombs if you prefer 😉 but like a lot of things, if it lets itself down in one area this can have knock on effects into the ones it has covered.
What we’d recommend:
We have a keen interest in restaurant marketing so if you’re looking to improve the way you market your eatery online then you may want to check out some of our other articles:
So there you have it, our quick review of The Bon Restuarant and Winebar’s online presence. If you have any questions or would like us to take a look at your site then please get in touch via the comments below.
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