HappyTables is a cool looking service by Noel Tock that I’ve been meaning to take a look at for a while now. It started life as Theme-Force selling WordPress themes but then pivoted to become a SAAS providing WordPress-based websites for the restaurant industry. What I found interesting was the process of rebranding the WordPress admin panel and all the extra features that have been added – you wont find any mention of WordPress now, rather it functions like any online service.
The service is free to signup and try but if you want to add events and customize your site further you will need the $39 a month plan. In this review Im going to take a closer look at the signup and admin panel.
So head over to the site and hit the “Create Your Free Site” button to get started. Fill out your name, email and password in the fields provided :
Hit “Continue” and on the next screen you can choose a name, website address and your country for your restaurant site. A couple of nice touches on this page are the gravatar at the top that is fetched based on your email address and the status bar at the bottom which shows the next step is your website is ready!
On the next screen you have some quick links – Visit Website, Dashboard, Documentation and Support :
So before we visit the site, lets take a look at the dashboard and set some options up first. Click the “Dashboard” button and you are taken to a nice clean back end ( which recommends you to download chrome to use!) and has a percentage bar at the top showing how much setup you’ve completed and then under that are various tasks to complete.
Step 1 Basics
The first section is “Basics” and includes “Signup for HappyTables” , “Upload Your Logo”, “Enter a Location” and “Edit Your Homepage”. Clicking “Edit Your Homepage” takes you to your WordPress pages section, strangely.
Step 2 Enhanced Content
The next section guides you to enter more information about your business and add your first food item :
Step 3 Credibility
The final step on this opening screen is “Credibility” and guides you to add a Facebook / Foursquare or Gowalla widget and the Yelp bar.
Down the side of the admin area you will see that you can access these features again from there – you can add pages, info about your business, Food menu items, Social media, Social Proof etc :
What I found interesting is the “Integrations” link which takes you to a page where you can integrate third party systems into your site, there are options for online ordering, online reservations, Google Apps and Mailchimp.
Now we have looked at the admin area, lets take a look at the front end, out of the box this is how your website will look :
Looks pretty basic so far? If you click the plus (+) icon in the top left hand corner, a panel slides out with some themes you can choose from:
Some of the options are – Elegant, Last Call, Italian, Barbecue, Pizza, Asian, Organic, Seafood, Deli. Selecting one, instantly changes the look of your site :
You also have the option underneath to create your own color scheme and choose which fonts to use :
I found the whole setup pretty intuitive but if you need help, there is a pretty extensive online documentation which covers every single option that is available to you. The documentation is text based with screenshots :
Finally, if you get stuck there is the option of support – clicking the “Support” button opens a window for you to type your question into:
I was very impressed with HappyTables – signup is a breeze and everything feels so slick. All the unnecessary WordPress menu items have been removed – the admin area is lovely and streamlined. I like how the system guides you through the main tasks right up front rather than them being hidden away for you to discover. Considering this is being aimed at restaurant owners who would like to get their own site online quickly and easily, instead of the expense of having to hire a web designer, I think its done a great job. The pre-set themes are nice but the option to completely customize the colors and font, along with adding your own logo should allow the user to create nice looking custom sites which are tailored to their brand. I like that the actual layout is not too customisable so the end user cant go mad and end up with an unusable site – too much control would be a bad thing I think.
So to conclude, I was very impressed with HappyTables – hats off to Noel Tock and the team – they have taken WordPress and produced a very slick and easy to use product for the restaurant industry.
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