How Sushi Restaurants Taught Me About Website Design

sushiThis is a guest post by Bryan, who blogs at Work From Home

If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Design is one of the most important features of any website. Studies have shown that an average person can decide in just a matter of 50 milliseconds if a page is worth browsing through or not. For those not in the know, that’s equivalent to 1/20th of a second. That’s a pretty short time to make an impression isn’t it? Even a fraction of a second has a big influence on online sales as you will see below.

Design ideas vary from person to person and no blog looks the same. No, I’m not asking you to hire a web designer to do a complete design revamp for your site. Instead, I like to introduce 3 Sushi Restaurants to explain 3 important key areas when designing your website.

Overall Design

Let’s say you’ve been to both restaurant A & B. Both restaurants sell sushi and they both have roughly the same menu. After trying both restaurants, you prefer Restaurant B because it has cosier lights, good seating with ample space to walk around the restaurants. Menus on the walls are clear and waiters are great in explaining the different dishes they have. Restaurant A is a bit old fashioned. It is dimly lit and things are a bit too dark and there are just too many barriers around. You find that it is a hazard going around. Waiters seem to mingle only with themselves but they don’t seem interested to come to your assistance when you need them.  You’ve been there once and although they both have the same menu, the food just doesn’t taste as good as in Restaurant B. Restaurant B becomes your favourite sushi hang out spot.

Similarly for your website, you don’t have to be a design genius to design a blog. Your blog can be minimalistic and clean but if it is easy to navigate around and direct your customers around, then you already have a winner’s design. Drop the flashy menus and animations. To put this into perspective, think like a customer. According to a recent study by kissmetrics, poor website navigation and overall design was the biggest turn off for customers. Approximately 52% of shoppers did not purchase and return due to overall site aesthetics.


Let’s take our sushi restaurant example again. You find that not only does Restaurant B have a cosy ambience and the menu a gastronomic delight but they also have really good service. Their service in particular is quick and when help is needed, waiters are always nearby and ready at your service.  Even when things get busy, they get extra waiters on board to serve customers. In your mind, this is another tick in the box why restaurant B still beats the competition.

Similarly, a website must pay attention to loading time. If a website takes too long to load, again you frustrate your customers and they will not return to your website unless in the near future, you’ve decided to drop the flash, the ads, reduce image size and the excessive WordPress plugins. Speed, efficiency and convenience are one of the reasons why shoppers are going online. Approximately 64% of online customers did not purchase online because website was too slow. Frankly, I’m not surprised if Google recently introduce page loading speed as one of their ranking factor. Back in 2006, Google VP Marissa Mayer mentioned that when their 10-result page dropped by even 0.5 seconds, their ad revenue dropped 20%. That’s a staggering loss of revenue if you are Google!


Words are powerful marketing tools. They have the ability to evoke emotions in customers.

Let’s have a look at our sushi restaurant again. You’ve decided to have a sushi fix again at your favourite sushi restaurant, Restaurant B. As you make your way there, you’re suddenly distracted by a new sushi restaurant outlet that has just opened nearby, restaurant C. Curiosity got the better of you and you make your way there. You’ve noticed that it really is a new restaurant and there are heaps of meals all at half price. The half price entices you further and the owner has decided to give away $50 vouchers to the first 300 who dine in. Wow…you thought, this is great! I must be one of the 300 who can also eat at half price. You thought that the $50 is a big bonus considering how many sushi meals you could have with that particular voucher. The plan to eat at restaurant B flew out of the window almost instantly and now you’ve decided to just try out the meals at sushi restaurant C.

It is very important to choose the right words on your website to expect good sales. Regardless of how many times you’ve heard of certain words like sales, half price or FREE, you are almost always going to be drawn by them. Action words or active commands are also very important. A call to action with a time sensitive component can put the pressure on visitors to act fast. Some of us might already be numb to this form of marketing technique but there are thousands of people coming online everyday looking for something.  Now, the question is, when should you use active commands? Well, as Derek Halpern has said, you don’t want to overload your site with active commands because too many will come across as overly authoritarian and lose effectiveness.

There are many other design elements that can influence sales but those 3 I’ve mentioned can make a significant impact on your online sales.

What do you think? Please share you views in the comments below.

Bryan blogs at Work From Home. He enjoys blogging even though he works a full time job and he is committing to making it succeed. He blogs about all things related to blogging, home businesses and internet marketing. Visit his blog to find out more.

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29 Responses to How Sushi Restaurants Taught Me About Website Design

  1. Vivek Parmar November 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    nice and imaginative post. how could you write such posts??

    • Bryan November 23, 2010 at 12:58 am #

      Hi Vivek,

      It took me quite a while to research and write this post.

      There are a lot of articles out there talking about web design. I chose to write this from a different perspective taking sushi restaurants as an example. Thx for commenting!

  2. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach November 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Love the last point (Free! Half price!)

    Words words words – how you apply them can create a tremendous difference in your bottom line.

    • Bryan November 23, 2010 at 12:49 am #

      Hey Barbara,

      Yeah, I think using the right choice of words has a big influence on how your readers interact with your website too. Glad you like this post

  3. Bryan November 23, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    Hi Corinne,

    I think as you visit blogs around, you’ll notice quite a lot of popups around, including mine 😛 I think there’s a balance you need to juggle between distracting and getting people to opt in.

    Web design is certainly important. It doesn’t matter how you design it just as long as your visitors are not turned away from basic design problems.

    Glad you like the post. Have a great day!

  4. Nawaz November 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Design and load time of the site is the actual beauty of the site.If two entities related to websites are managed in proper way,the website will do good business.

    • Bryan November 23, 2010 at 1:03 am #


      If you bear those 2 in mind, you would have done better than most sites around. Thx for dropping a line 🙂

  5. Rahul November 22, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    Very nice post ! i do actually find design is a very important step for websites to look better and fit all people’s “tastes” !
    I really loved the examples you chose , i do agree with the restaurant stuff and specially the fact a website must pay attention to loading time, this is for sure what evryone needs to take care of ! plus , expecting good sells requires indeed using good words, i could guess how “free” is so different than “FREE” and i bet evreyone has noticed this !! thank you for this informative post

    • Bryan November 23, 2010 at 1:07 am #


      Totally agree with you. I chose specifically these 3 points to talk about because I think there are all very important in terms of design that will influence customers or readers to stay on your site.

      Words are important. You’re right, CAPITALIZING words do have an impact but I think just don’t overdo it.

      Glad you like the post 🙂

  6. Dana November 23, 2010 at 12:07 am #

    It is funny that today, I learn several bloggers write about how important the design to attract the readers. The coincident that tell me the blog design can really determine the success of a blog/site.

    • Bryan November 23, 2010 at 1:10 am #


      Yes as many has said, design is the next most important thing after content. You don’t have to be a design genius.

      I think you should always think like a visitor rather than an owner of a website when it comes to design.

      Have a great day!

  7. Nancy Shields November 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Great post and I passed it along to my website designers….Something I do not like is clutter…I like neat, clean sites and that are to the point!

    • Bryan November 24, 2010 at 11:03 am #

      Hey Nancy,

      Yeah clutter and clean design definitely help with reading and navigating around sites. Thx for passing this on to your web designers!

  8. rhea November 24, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    for better sales influential words are very much important. yes rightly said site loading time should be also given priority

    • Bryan November 24, 2010 at 11:37 am #

      Yes Rhea,

      Words are powerful marketing tools. It really depends on how you use them. It is important to use action words to encourage visitors to do something.

      Short decisive words are better than long sentences.

  9. JohnK November 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Usability is crucial. Before I launch a new site, or a redesign, I always get 5 separate opinions on layout and functionality before I begin programming and fine tuning. Having a site designed for the reader is absolutely crucial.

  10. Richard November 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    I do recommend the book “How Not To Think” for anyone intending to revamp their website – it’s a brilliant overview of usability concepts.

    Which, for the sushi metaphor, would be a recipe book for how the food was made.

  11. Justin November 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    Simple, good web design advice. Obviously it can get more complicated than this, but these are basic rules everyone should follow. I can’t stand when people put flash and fancy things when there’s no reason for it. Especially for something like a restaurant, where you quickly want info on menu and hours and things like that. Good post.

  12. Mano December 1, 2010 at 5:11 am #

    In software the might and main is the design of the software. If your website is professionally designed, have good and moderate level images and that contents of the web site are written in understandable language. Visitor will sure come to the site. They will stay there and even explore it.

  13. Rob McCance December 18, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Pretty good analogy. For me, it’s all content. But if both sites have identical content, then the design will weigh in a lot.

    I’ve seen many super PRO flashy shiney sites with crap for content, or oppressive commenting policies. I don’t go back.

    • Andrew December 20, 2010 at 9:52 am #


      I agree – content makes all the difference for me as well.

      I like to see lots of white space.


  14. Mike December 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Thanks alot for sharing this with us. I found the last section about active commands particulary interesting as, i must admit that i’am often a victim of this. The words ‘FREE’ and ‘QUICK AND EASY’ always seem to entise me.

    Thanks again for sharing and i hope to hear from you again soon.

  15. Zarina Hussain April 1, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    Great article. Good qualities of a website definitely are the look and feel of it. If we have an imaginative mind, we can take inspiration from any object in the world!

  16. Ian Belanger June 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Hi Bryan,

    I like the analogy between the sushi restaurants and a website. Everything you say makes complete sense.

    People are fickle, and if they are turned off from your site for any reason, chances are they will not be back, even if you have the best content on the net.

    I know that I have been to restaurants where the food was excellent, but the service was terrible. Needless to say I never went back.

    Thanks for sharing Bryan, this is my first time here and I will surely be back.

  17. Gary Ashton August 28, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    I do agree with you that designer’s should pay attention to the loading time. People don’t like to wait and usually they would close your website if your website loads too long. Also, i think nowadays, designers should consider the website’s look in mobile phones.

    • Andrew August 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm #


      Loading time is extremly important. I’m always looking at ways where I can make my blog load faster.


  18. Angel Collins December 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Nice analogy you got there. A superb design sells the website effortlessly. This post made me hungry though 🙂


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