Home Editor's Choice Why small firms, restaurants need own ad websites

Why small firms, restaurants need own ad websites

Why small firms, restaurants need own ad websites

Restaurants and other small companies can save a few bucks by relying on directories and other sites to give them an Internet presence, but that may be foolish penny pinching. By not having their own websites they are sacrificing visibility and putting their reputations in cyberspace with little defense.

Internet surfers may be able to find the restaurant or small business in a local or business web directory. The downside is that these directories are likely to also list the competition and provide space for public comments, positive and negative.

Consumers who seek the opinions of others can now find plenty of comments on the Internet. Critics capitalize on this curiosity by producing restaurant reviews and then inviting consumers to comment on those reviews. Comments are good business for those websites and critics because they generate more traffic to the sites.

Restaurants Draw Consumer Comments

Restaurants seem to draw more consumer comments than other businesses. And one negative comment from a customer can undo several positive ones.

One well known restaurant received 12 comments on a restaurant directory. The first five were so negative, interested prospects probably didn’t read the last seven. The comments may sit in cyberspace for months without the restaurant ever knowing about them, or who made them.

A simple listing on an Internet directory is like a one-line listing in a phone book section full of large restaurant ads. At least the phone book doesn’t carry negative comments.

Website Provides Advantages

There is no easy way to stop negative comments on the Internet, but a restaurant or small organization with its own website has at least three significant advantages:

  • The search for the restaurant is more direct and is less likely to bring up the competition.
  • The website can provide positive information to help offset negative comments the prospect might find elsewhere on the Internet.
  • It provides another service to the public.

That’s why most large restaurants have their own sites, even though they need the visibility less than a small cafe. They recognize the competitive nature of the business, especially in a troubled economy.

Website Content

Besides, a good website provides a helpful service to customers and prospects. At relatively little cost, a restaurant website can provide:

  • Street and email addresses, as well as phone number
  • Bios, photos and welcomes from the chef and/or owner
  • Updated menus
  • Exterior and interior pictures of the restaurant
  • Pictures of favorite dishes
  • Recipes of favorite dishes
  • A brief history of the business
  • Special events and announcements
  • Parking facilities

For a slightly bigger investment, a website can be designed to even:

  • Accept reservations and take-out orders.
  • Solicit comments which can be screened before publishing and be used in marketing research.
  • Sell advertising to non-competitive businesses.

Simplicity is a Website Virtue

Restaurant and small company websites need not be elaborate or complex. Most Internet surfers are looking for quick information, not sophisticated presentations. Music is probably not needed. Speed in finding information should be a prime goal of the website design. Simplicity, design cleanliness and professionalism are virtues. So is correct spelling. The internet and local companies offer numerous website design programs at affordable prices

Ask customers if they have seen or used the website and what they think of it. If they haven’t used it, why not? It’s a good conversation starter.

Patrons often take restaurants personally. They expect good food and service and love to be recognized by an owner, waiter or maître. A good website can help develop long term relationships and loyalty.

Ad Layouts – How to Make them Work Harder

Bird has gathered many of these tips for ad layout design from research by Colin Wheildon for The Newspaper Advertising Bureau of Australia. And some from test results – and common sense. He shares his expert views on how various typefaces, font sizes, placements of headings and illustrations, and the settings of layouts affect readability.

Creating Ad Layouts that are Easy on the Eye

For ad layouts to stand out in the jungle of ads all screaming for the readers’ s attention, art directors have to know a thing or two about the basics of good layout design. It’s not just a question of typefaces and font sizes. Art directors should be aware of how the human eye peruses a page.

Typefaces, Font Size and Consistency. A page of copy set in serif type was comprehended well by 67% of readers. When the same copy was re-set in sans serif, the figures nose-dived to 12%. What’s more, constant changes in type face are not only ugly but confusing. At least one person in ten has imperfect eyesight. So copy in very small type is usually unwise. Type obscured by setting it over tints or textures or colours is fatal.

All Caps and Type Settings. The perceived legibility of a series of headlines was reduced by over 20% when the setting was changed from caps and lower case to caps only. Good comprehension slumped greatly when type was set with ragged right setting (typically down from 67 to 38%) and, even more so with ragged left setting (67 to 10%).

Reverse Type and Columns. When a lot of type is reversed out white on black, it kills response. With one full page magazine charity advertisement, response doubled when white on black was replaced with the normal black on white. Type set in narrow columns is easy to read – the eye doesn’t have to travel so far. Around 50 characters per line is about as long as it should go.

Distracting Illustrations and Headlines. Illustrative elements which point out of the layout – like people’s feet, or their eye path – lead the reader out of the advertisement. Illustrations which block off a column halfway down the page discourage the reader from traveling further down. Headlines marooned in the middle of the copy destroy the flow of that copy and halve comprehension. So do headlines placed under the copy.

Blocks of Type and Huge Headings Long unbroken blocks of type are daunting. They should be broken up by crossheads, indents, changes in type. Giving “shape” the letters and ads will also encourage readerships. Huge headings are also to be avoided as they take up expensive space that has been paid for by the client who expects each inch of the layout to work for him.

Tricks that Start and Keep People Reading

These tips, says Bird, are largely based on the research of Rudolph Flesch in the 1930s and 1940s, but will always apply because readers will read the same way.

  • Sentences should be short. Average 16 words. Usually no longer than 32.
  • Paragraphs should be short, containing just one thought in each – particularly the first paragraph.
  • Words should be short and lively, not long and dull.
  • The word “You” should appear 2 to 3 times more than “I” or “We.”
  • “Carrier words and phrases at the ends and beginnings of paragraphs encourage continued reading. So do questions which require answers.
  • Sentences should be broken at ends of pages and columns, to encourage continued reading, with “Please Turn Over” or the like at the end of a letter page.
  • Unnecessary verbiage should be stamped out. There is no need to use three words where one will do.

Tried Tested Rules for Good Ad Layouts

The way people read will never change and neither will the direction the human eye travels while perusing an ad layout or a printed page. Drayton Bird lays out the rules that good ad layouts should follow and shares tips that will make people read and keep reading. From the reader’s preference for serif type, the size of fonts and headings to sentence and paragraph length, Bird is an excellent resource.