General Question

plasticpen's avatar

Why do so many restaurants websites offer their menu as a PDF file?

Asked by plasticpen (38points) April 22nd, 2009

It takes longer to load and it’s really frustrating. Internet-savvy people, web designers, programmers…is there a logical reason for this?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

13 Answers

xBRIANx's avatar

PDF is a pretty universal format. This way people can download their Chili’s and Ruby Tuesday Menu and go to it at any point when they want to order take out.

casheroo's avatar

My husband says it so people can’t edit it, so the customers can’t make changes to it…I don’t know how you’d make changes to a site, but this is what he says.

James_Mal's avatar

It is a downloadable document, so you may save it to your computer and view it at any time without a connection to the internet. It provides a way therefore, for you to know what you want to order before you get there, or to call in and order. It is just easier to do it that way. If you download the PDF. If you don’t, it just is simpler to look at for anyone. It’s not so… plain. It looks a little better, more organized. It’s easier to read. You can zoom and move about the page much easier.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Also, that way the restaurant can update the menu without having to make changes to their actual website, just upload a new PDF.

Plus that way the customer can save the PDF in their My Documents or whatnot, like Brian said.

It seems like a good idea to me.

cwilbur's avatar

Because they spent hundreds of dollars on branding, and they’d rather just export to PDF than spend another couple hundred dollars making it look identical in a web browser.

squirbel's avatar

You may want to update the RAM on your computer if you aren’t able to load them, it’s supposed to be a quick and snappy process. I was at a relative’s house the other day, and they had a brand new computer [as of this past xmas], and we tried loading a PDF. Boy was it slow. When I checked the RAM, they only had 512MB [running vista]. That’s the bare minimum!!! shouldn’t be legal, i tell ya.

Anyway, if PDFs are a pain, you need to update your computer.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

PDFs are small files, very print friendly, and anyone can read
Them because adobe acrobat reader is free.

I can give you more tech details if you like.

bluedoggiant's avatar

It is a universal format. Because not everyone has .doc capable applications, printing an html document can be a hassle. PDF is nice and simple.

funkdaddy's avatar

The menu is originally developed for printing and use in their restaurant, almost all programs that are specifically for print documents will export a pdf very easily. Sometimes this is even the format that the company who prints the menus will request depending on their in house processes.

So basically, the restaurant doesn’t have to pay extra for a pdf, because it’s developed at the same time as the menu they’ll use at their tables. Having one document insures it’s consistent, makes one less place they have to update, and all the other fine points people have brought up above. Some programs will attempt to automatically generate an html equivalent, but the results are shady at best.

I’m with you though, I don’t think pdf’s online are very user friendly and I appreciate an html equivalent when possible (google will generate one in most cases if you’re in a pinch).

StellarAirman's avatar

I agree with @funkdaddy‘s explanation, that’s just the way they got it from the design company that made the menu, and they don’t want to pay to reformat it so they just throw it on the web site.

Link's avatar

It’s good for business.

noyesa's avatar

PDFs are portable (imagine that) and preserve the branding that most companies invest humongous amounts of resources into. Branding and presence is almost more important than the actual food in the culinary business, and PDFs present an opportunity to preserve the clean layout and design that the business had custom designed for it. It looks exactly like what the waiter is going to slap down on the table when you’re seated, and this practice has left many with the expectation to find a PDF version of the actual menu online. It allows you to save the menu for use later. The (accessible) web doesn’t offer the same level of control over the design. Web designers put an awful lot of time and consideration into making a design scale well with different screen resolutions, fonts, and environments. You can never assume a specific way in which a site will be viewed. However, with the PDF, branding, fonts, design, and layout are preserved no matter who’s using it.

If PDFs are taking a long time to load on your computer, you may want to try a different program. On Mac OS X I just use the supplied Preview app, which is much faster than Adobe Reader. On Windows, I prefer Sumatra. It’s small, lightweight, and speedy.

You may also like PDFMENOT

AshlynM's avatar

Not really sure but if there was a way for them to make it so you can download the document in Word or Notepad, then that would be better. Most everyone has Word and Notepad, not everyone has Adobe Reader or wants to download it just to view one document.

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