Fairwood is one of the more ubiquitous food chains in Hong Kong, serving cheap but delicious meals quickly. Fair enough. That is why I think that in this time of financial recession, this company will benefit (along with Cafe de Coral) from people’s appetite for frugality.
Its website however, appear to be looking for more investors rather than customers.
A quick look at the website’s homepage, shows its emphasis on its rebranding exercise, and less on the new meals the rebranding has brought in. It talks about logo, designing of shops and the bright orange motif that rivals that of Yoshinoya and the Netherlands.
For a typical customer who needs to do some research on what menu items s/he expects to find posted on the walls, it takes more than just typing the URL, www.fairwood.com.hk to accomplish that.
Unlike Maxim’s, Ajisen Ramen or Yoshinoya websites that try to attract patrons with crisp bright photos of menus on the homepage, Fairwood takes a different route. It highlights its company information and investor relations ahead of its regular menu offerings, according to the order of navigation menu.
Photos on the homepage doesn’t provide any interaction (no resizing nor changing of text) especially that the thumbnails are about Fairwood’s products that might encourage people to visit the shop.
I think what customers are looking for when visiting this type of website are the following:
Latest menu (putting prices will be a bonus but I prefer not to display it)
What’s New may be new at the time when photos were uploaded but once a website like Fairwood’s isn’t updated often, such content even becomes detrimental to the quality of the site. People are already aware that they have been ordering the same old menu that’s being branded as “What’s New” (at least on the filename). So they conclude there’s nothing new in the site that deserves a another visit. If Pizza Hut accepts online orders, Fairwood should also be capable of doing the same thing (for a minimum order value).
I think I like to eat at Fairwood no matter what the menu is. But let me find the shortest route to the nearest branch. Fairwood’s shop locator does a fairly good job. It provides addresses in English and Chinese, has phone numbers but wait, where is the store hours? Ok, they are provided in Chinese only but non-Chinese users can only take a hint from the time display format. What if I don’t know where the street is? Users who have the same experience need a third-party map (Google Map, Centamap) first before gaining confidence to reach that shop. Having a built-in map would be a boost to Fairwood store locator’s usefulness.
Promotions are one of the most attractive offers a restaurant can give. I can see McDonald’s patrons queuing with discount stubs on hand. But in the case of Fairwood, whether or not there is a promotion of a product, there is no place on the website that echoes this promotion (or at least what I see). Perhaps as an incentive to those who visit the site occasionally, rewarding them with online coupons would be good enough to boost visitor traffic.
PIC (which means Professional Institutional Catering) doesn’t appear as a good description to display promotions either.
In terms of SEO, there are also things that Fairwood needs to take note:
a. Menu item should discard the Flash menu, same as my advice to Hong Kong Space Museum, and use CSS menus instead. This will enhance the existing relationship between pages through healthy internal linking, knowing that sitemap page does not exist (or at least, not visible on many pages).
c. Target keywords. As mentioned above, I think the main purpose of the site leans towards investors as the order of menus indicates. So if this is true, then the website should at least think about what keywords investors or their associates use. Let’s say “profitable food business” or “high credit rating” type of keywords? Otherwise, this website looks like just a banner in the middle of the forest that no one seems to notice; it would be better if it posted its company information at TodayIR.com (complete with videos, interviews, stock price, etc) instead of the contact page.
Unless webmasters truly see the value of a website, we should expect 90’s type of sites like Fairwood to be widespread in Hong Kong’s cyberspace (a term that’s so 90’s in itself).