Does Your Website Suck? We Review Nectar Cafe

Last Updated Jul 8, 2010 10:45 AM EDT

The Website: Nectar Cafe My rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5 As soon as I saw the Nectar Website it brought back some fond memories for me because my wife and I owned a coffeehouse back in 1994 and I actually started my old software company there while sipping on cappuccino's in 1996. Nigel and Debbie Stowe have done a great job bringing the physical look and feel of Nectar to the Web. Some of my favorite Websites have always been retail businesses that make me feel like I am standing there when I visit the Website. The dark brown background, choice of font and rotating images on the front page put me in the Nectar Cafe for sure. I could almost smell the coffee and hear the coffee cups clinking and people laughing. Though the Website did a great job transporting me to the coffeehouse, I didn't know where in the world I was. There's no address or phone number on the front page and New Zealand was not in the title of the Website. I had to click Contact to find out where Nectar Café was located. I would like to have seen it on the front page under the slideshow of the café. Every retail location Website should have the phone number and address as a primary element on the front page.

Some other issues I found: Nectar's services quickly become confusing. The Café, Restaurant, Catering, and Functions links could have been rolled into just the Café and Catering sections. Under Restaurant, the Stowes explain that their restaurant service no longer exists the way it used to -- but this is unnecessary. The Website should adapt to what you do now, not what has changed. You can always create a News page for updates and changes. Also Catering should include in-house and off-site catering on one page so it's clear.

One of the things that made me rank the site lower was the sparse content. I would rather come to a site that only has five pages of great information rather than a site that gives me the same information in 10 pages. Content is more important than a great look and feel if you want to get people in the front door or ordering from your Website.

Some other notable mistakes on the Nectar Website:
  • No forms for contacting the café or making reservations. Try Wufoo or JotForm for a quick form you can embed for free. Posting an email address (or linking an image to one) will create a lot of spam because spammers scan Websites for those kinds of links to collect email addresses. It's also not professional anymore for a business to use this method because forms are common and visitors expect them now.
  • The Feedback page is unnecessary. Just add that text to the top of the Contact page.
  • Image Galleries should have more than one photograph. I tried to click the "next" link to see more but there were no more images. There isn't any reason to have the page unless it is complete with at least 10 pictures. This would take about an hour or so with a digital camera in the café to complete. You can make some cool image galleries using a variety of javascript plugins, like these. Most importantly, nothing on a Website should say "Coming Soon." Finish it, then put it up.
  • While we're talking about photos... the borders are inconsistent -- some are blue and hyperlinked, others are brown and not linked. Correct the blue border on the front page for Corporate Catering by using border="0" in the img src tag. If you want people to know the image is a link, add something like this to the actual image: "Click Here To Learn More," make the text is underlined in the image and link it to a form.
  • Last but not least, the Menus. Menus on a restaurant/café site are a must -- but not when the only delivery method is PDF. The menus on Nectar should be delivered as a Web page first or by an image (like a .jpg or .png) as a last resort. I like PDFs because any content is printable and portable but they are large and require the visitor to have the PDF plugin to view them. The size of a PDF can deter visitors and make them leave a page or Website. I would include the PDF on the menu pages but as a share or print option like this. Not as the only method to view them.

Overall Nectar has done a wonderful job with its look and feel. If the Stowes widened the content areas on the Web pages, added forms, and increased the content on some pages while condensing it on others for clarity, the Website would be outstanding. Thanks again, Nigel and Debbie, for bringing me to your café in New Zealand. Can I get a Muesli Sundae and a refill for my coffee please?

Does your business's Website suck? Submit the url for your company's Website here. I'll critique it and offer tips on how to make it better.

  • Nick Longo

    Nicholas Longo is the director of Web strategy at Rackspace Hosting. He's a successful serial entrepreneur and founder and former CEO of CoffeeCup Software, which develops software tools that let nontechnical people build websites. For 15 years, he has been equal parts product developer, word-of-mouth marketer, business development executive, and a guy who built a multi-million-dollar company from the ground up.