There’s always a lot of work to do


As a foodie, I’m always on the hunt for the next best food spot in town. I’ve bookmarked a bunch of places and have subscribed to local magazines to make sure I don’t miss new foodie spot announcements and food festivals in my area. The first thing I do before making a reservation or driving over to the restaurant’s location, is to always check out their menu. Now with a toddler in tow, good food isn’t the only thing I have to consider – I have to make sure the restaurant is kid-friendly and has a kid’s menu should my daughter decide not to eat what we’re having.

However, as much as technology has advanced, online menus seem to be stuck in the 90s. Most of these menus are either in PDF format or have never been updated in ages. On mobile, it’s frustrating to have to load up a ginormous PDF file and have to zoom in on it to try to read the menu. As a frustrated customer, I’ve always asked myself, “How hard can it be to just update your menu?” As someone who makes a career out of building websites for people, I know it’s not an easy task, but once you got it up and running, shouldn’t it be easy to update your content?

Recently, the designers at Automattic conducted foundational research studies on Small Business Owners to help us understand their needs better. From this research I learned that small business owners have very little time and money. Yes, setting up a website takes a lot of work, but this isn’t the only thing they have to worry about – they have to take care of administrative tasks for their businesses such as bookkeeping, payroll, etc. On top of that, they have personal lives, hobbies, and families to support. Some still even have full-time jobs!

The research opened my eyes to reality and made me more empathetic to small business owners. As a mom juggling a full-time career, time is a very limited resource for me, but I have almost forgotten that other people lead busy lives, too. As for restaurant owners, menus aren’t the only thing they’re worried about!

By Jan Cavan Boulas

Jan is a designer and illustrator whose work has been featured in several publications online and offline. When not trying to help make the Web a better place, she can be found taking off on an impulse adventure, experimenting in the kitchen, or playing badminton.