Development update: September 2022

A 5 minute read, posted Paul Dean on 23rd September 2022.

Development update: September 2022

Welcome to the first development update for Easy Eatery

And we're starting with some good news! After several weeks, with many late nights and weekends working, not to mention a brush with COVID along the way, the early access version of Easy Eatery is ready for action.

The first early access website is under construction now and looks fantastic. I can't wait to show everyone what we've worked hard on these past few weeks.

It's been a long road, getting from there to here.

Creating the early access version of Easy Eatery has been no small task. Compared to older versions, it's an entirely different beast, and is a massive step toward our goal of launching next year.

Having been re-written from the ground-up to implement all of the feedback and to address lessons learned along the way, Easy Eatery is faster, easier to use and more capable and polished than ever.

Suffice it to say: Easy Eatery's early access is the real deal.

I'm incredibly proud of what we've created, and I can't wait to see how it helps our customers.

So, what's new in early access?

Quite a lot. Strictly speaking, everything is new in early access, having been rewritten from scratch. But, I'll stick to the significant differences for brevity:

We've given everything a new coat of paint.

The updated control panel is probably the first thing anyone migrating to early access will notice.

We've refined the design of our control panel based on feedback received so far. As a result, it's substantially more user-friendly and polished than before.

We've standardised the design of just about everything to help ensure that Easy Eatery lives up to its name by being easy to use, regardless of experience.

We've updated our block-based page builder.

  • We now provide 24 different content blocks as standard in our page builder, up from 14 in our prototype. These new blocks help ensure that Easy Eatery websites will be media-rich and highly-engaging experiences.
  • We've added the ability to preview changes, not just for pages but also menus and blog posts, before you save them. We've also added version control to let you roll-back changes, should you ever need to.
  • You can now easily download a QR code for any menu or page on your website, making it easy for you to share important information with your customers.
  • Finally, early access includes the groundwork for our upcoming visual page builder.

We've also upgraded our menu builder.

  • We've taken on board feedback received and made several design improvements to our menu builder.
  • We've made it substantially easier to create menu items while creating a menu.
  • We've made it possible to override the prices of any menu item within a given menu.
  • You can now optionally add and display nutritional information for each item within your menu.
  • Customers can now hide menu items that may contain specific allergens — if this info is provided.

And also our form builder.

  • Easy Eatery can now send branded HTML emails when a customer submits a form on your website. Send emails to both your staff and your customer separately. You have complete control over each email's content and can easily insert information captured in the form submission within these emails.
  • Forms can now also trigger notifications within your Easy Eatery control panel. Helpful should want to be alerted when a form is submitted but don't want an email sent to you.
  • We've added a new 'consent' field to the form builder, which is helpful if you require customers to agree to terms, by checking a checkbox, before they submit the form.
  • You now have control over what happens when your form is submitted. You can either show a 'thank-you' message, redirect the customer to another page on your website, or forward them to a custom URL.
  • We've also integrated our form builder into our upcoming CRM. Going forwards, this will allow you to create and maintain valuable relationships with your customers.

We've enabled our brand new media manager.

  • Going into early access, this is one of the most substantial upgrades to Easy Eatery. We've fundamentally revised how images are used on our websites.
  • Upload an image once and reuse it multiple times across your website, displayed at different sizes with different cropping every time.
  • Drag and drop to upload your pictures and organise your media library via our intuitively designed interface.
  • Add in SEO-friendly content such as alternative text, titles and captions.
  • All images are converted into a modern WebP format to ensure your customers get the best possible experience regarding both image quality and performance.
  • Our websites are now faster than ever, thanks to an integration with a lightning-fast content delivery networks; Google Cloud Storage and CloudFront.

We've enabled Easy Eatery's blogging tools.

  • New for early access, our blogging tools based on our powerful page builder to make it easy for you to run a media-rich blog on their website.
  • Add content and media, including 3rd party embedded content from Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube, into your blog with our easy-to-use tools.
  • Easily categorise your posts and assign your them to multiple categories.
  • Seamlessly embed Easy Eatery forms into your blog posts.

We've enabled site-wide announcements.

  • A minor but powerful addition to Easy Eatery's suite of marketing tools.
  • Add a small but prominent banner displayed on every page of your website.
  • Promote an offer, a new menus, recruitment opportunities and more!
  • To enable this, simply define your message, add a link and hit publish.

We've updated our notification centre.

  • Version two of our notification centre is in early access. With it, we've made it easier to organise your account notifications inbox via a revised interface.
  • Get notified of opportunities to improve your website when customers submit forms on your website.
  • Keep on top of your inbox with our handy managment features; bulk delete or mark messages as read or unread, and flag important messages for easy access later.

And we've added some advanced tools.

  • We've enabled the first version of our integrations manager, which will drastically extend Easy Eatery's compatibility with 3rd-party services in the future.
  • We've enabled the cache manager, which allows you to view and manually purge your website's cache. This is in addition to the time and action-based cache purge that takes place automatically.
  • We've enabled the cookie banner configurator, which allows you to edit the content of your cookie policy banner.

We've also added security features.

  • We've added optional 2-factor authentication to further enhance account security on the Easy Eatery platform. If enabled on your account, you must enter a single-use passcode sent by email to complete the login process.
  • We've also enabled the content security policy manager, which prevents unauthorised JavaScript and other content from executing on your website.
  • We've enabled the robots.txt manager, which allows you to add custom directives to your robots file, which impacts how search engines and other bots interact with your website.

And we've overhauled our theme & design manager.

  • We've completely redesigned our theme editor with a brand new interface that provides a much-improved experience for developers.
  • We've added a new file-search feature to allow you to find the files you want to edit quickly.
  • We've enabled CSS and JavaScript minification tools to help ensure your site's theme is served as efficiently as possible.
  • We've completed the groundwork for the theme customiser, which will allow 'no-code' customisations to your website's theme.
  • We've revised the design of our block builder, making it easier to create custom content blocks for our page builder.
  • You can now easily set your website's favicon and default social sharing image.

We've added new settings.

  • We've added serving times for your business, independent of opening hours.
  • Social media links can be re-ordered,
  • We've added support for online food ordering services.

And there's plenty more where that came from...

Going into early access is just the beginning for Easy Eatery. We plan on many more rounds of updates, plus several new features and improvements before we finally launch in 2023 — and even then, our journey is just beginning.

Our second phase of early access will introduce our CRM and Table Reservations tools, as well as a whole host of other updates and improvements.

Thanks for reading, I'll see you in the next one!

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Paul DeanPaul Dean

Paul is the owner and lead developer at Easy Eatery and is also senior web developer at the award-winning Cardiff-based digital creative agency, Blue Stag

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