Dear Restaurant Owner, Please Ditch the All-Flash Web Site

by Joanna Pineda Posted on April 21, 2010

Why do restaurant owners love Flash so much that their entire Web sites are in Flash? Don’t get me wrong, I love Flash and I make a living selling Flash movies, branding areas, yada, yada. But most Web sites should not be all Flash!

Here’s an example of an all Flash site that is annoying and borderline useless. I was scheduling lunch with a friend, who asked me to recommend a restaurant and send him the physical and Web addresses. No problem, right? Wrong.

Check out the Web site for Kora in Crystal City – The Web site is pretty, but if you’re trying to get an address and send it to a friend, it’s not user-friendly at all!

Since I’m lazy and did not want to re-type the address, I simply went to Google, typed “Kora Arlington, VA” and got a link to a map and directions from Google maps.  God bless Google.

I’m sure Kora paid good money for its beautiful, all Flash site, but I bet it’s a pain to update and it’s not very accommodating for visitors who just want to copy and paste an address.  Good grief!

How about you?  Got your own rants against an all Flash site?  Post links and comments!

8 replies on “Dear Restaurant Owner, Please Ditch the All-Flash Web Site”

As you know, our company markets office furniture and in todays market place many of our clients want instant information. We live on the internet sourcing product; copying applicable pictures to paste into emails. Nothing is more frustrating to us than flash web sites. You can’t copy and paste and, as you so correctly pointed out, you can’t even “email the page” because the content disappears. We can direct our clients to the various web sites but that process becomes cumbersome and time consuming as they labor through multiple sites and we hope they find the correct product we’re suggesting.

We know a company can’t design a web site to meet everyone’s needs but a basic understanding of visitors needs is imperative!

The most frustrating thing about flash-only sites — particularly for local businesses like restaurants — is how completely useless and inaccessible they are from just about all mobile devices. iPhone, Blackberry, Android — none of these support flash, nor should they need to for simple text information like addresses and menus. I wonder how many people planning on going to a restaurant but needing the directions simply give up when they can’t look up the address on their phone — and go somewhere else instead?

Web sites are marketing channels — so make sure you let your customers use them!

My 5-year-old son just discovered the McWorld site via his McDonald’s Happy Meal. The site is all in Flash and gives him fits. He loves the site and the games, but he breaks down in tears every 5-10 minutes or so because he has to log in again, and Flash logins are a giant pain in the you-know-what: no auto complete, no tabbing through fields, no “remember password” option. If he gets lost in his current activity by accidentally clicking away, he can’t hit the “Back” button to return to what he was doing. And who has to come troubleshoot? Mommy! The trained Internet Professional. Somehow, telling him that “Flash sites are bunk” does not console him. Other sites, like PBSKids and Playhouse Disney integrate Flash a lot more nicely, without taking away so much browser functionality, and at least giving major sections of their site linkable URLs.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Restaurants are the worst offenders in this area. I don’t need music when I’m looking at a restaurant site. I need easy to locate basic info like hours, directions and parking. Tom Sietsema, the Washington Post restaurant critic, posted a poll of the worst offenders for this. I believe Rasika won, but there were lots of contenders.

Aimee is my friend for life for positively mentioning PBS KIDS. We definitely try to avoid some of Flash’s major sins while still acknowledging that for the kind of media-rich activities we provide, Flash is THE tool.

I don’t know where the idea that restaurants need to serve media-rich pages got started, though. It’s an incredibly widespread phenomenon, and unbelievably poorly suited to what a restaurant really needs a webpage to do. Do all those panned photographs really get more people to come to your restaurant?

I would certainly be remiss if I did not point out that the problem is not with the technology (Flash) but with those who abuse the technology. Many of the main issues with Flash (copy & paste, bookmarking, printing, viewable on an iPhone) are easily remedied if you know what you are doing. But Flash certainly seems like overkill when you consider what users really want when visiting a restaurants website, to get directions and see the menu.

Joanna: Refreshing to hear that I am not the only one who finds this use of Flash technology misguided. I have just written “10 Best Practices For a Better Website”,, and this ill-advised use of Flash is one of my watch-outs. You are commended for calling this out.

Bob Eastman
Managing Director / Analyst
SMB Research
Boston, MA 02205
reastman at smbresearch (dot) net

Comments are closed.

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