Restaurateurs are experts at developing creative concepts, serving delicious food, and creating fantastic guest experiences. Most restaurant owners are not experts at building user-friendly websites. If your restaurant is adopting digital ordering and off-premise, it’s more important than ever that your website is well-optimized, making it easy for guests to discover your restaurant online and find exactly what they’re looking for.
And with 89% of diners researching restaurants online before visiting in-person, your website is often the platform for your guests' first interaction with your business.
Whether you're building the site yourself or hiring someone to do it for you, some components of restaurant website design are mandatory in order for the website to be a valuable resource for potential customers. As noted in this painfully accurate cartoon, the most important aspect of creating an effective restaurant website is that it efficiently conveys critical information while also enticing new customers. It's easy to get wrapped up in the "coolness" of the new website. This list is intended to help you see beyond the typeface and color scheme to get to the heart of your restaurant's website.
Address, Phone Number, & Hours This information should be front and center on your homepage. Don't make people click around to find it. If your restaurant has multiple locations, list them all. Visitors will plug the address into Google Maps or email to a friend, so be sure that your address can be copied and pasted or is a direct link to an online map. Beyond an easy user experience, listing accurate key information on the homepage can help improve your rank in Google search results.
Social Media Profiles Give website visitors the opportunity to keep in touch with you. If you're utilizing social media for your business, this is a great way to extend reach and improve the effectiveness of your posts. Visitors will go to your website to be sure that they're connected to the right social media page. You're likely not the only "Bob's Burgers" on Facebook, so link to your Facebook page through the website to avoid confusion with another location.
Menu According to a 2013 study, 80% of guests want to see the menu before eating at a restaurant. Website visitors want to view your menu quickly and easily, often from their smartphones. Don't put your menu in a downloadable PDF format. Menus should be listed on an easy-to-find (and easy to share) web page that can be found directly from your website's homepage.
Online Ordering An important piece of website optimization today is having online ordering options and capabilities available and prominent on your website. By doing that, you only make it easier for guests to order from you — and easier for you to keep revenue coming in. According to one expert, digital ordering from computers, tablets, and mobile phones is growing 300% faster than dine-in traffic. While food search engines like GrubHub and Foodler are popular with consumers, restaurant operators are now finding that the high fees and rising commissions of such vendors are not worth the cost. Powerful restaurant management platforms enable restaurateurs to host online ordering themselves and bypass the static menus and fee-based structure of third-party vendors.
Photos Imagery is the most effective way to send a message about your business to potential guests. Photos convey what to expect and look forward to when guests come to the restaurant in person. If you've can evoke an "Ooo - that looks good" response from website visitors, you've already won them over. Catch 122 combined their social media strategy and website photography into one great Instagram campaign. Guests shared photos of their food with the tag #catch122menu and their images were used to build an online gallery on the restaurant website.
Your Story This is a great way for people to learn more about the restaurant concept and what your business represents. While it may not be 'homepageworthy,' the website is a great place to showcase your restaurant's personality and history. Are you sourcing food from local farms? Importing beef from the Himalayas? Is the restaurant named after your mom? Tell your visitors about it an "About Us" or "Our Story" section of the website.
Mobile Compatibility 81% of smartphone users have used their mobile devices to search for restaurants in the past month, according to one report. You don't have to have a custom app, you just have to have a website that plays nicely with a mobile screen. Mobile is another great reason to include crucial information like address and phone number on a restaurant homepage. For the mobile user, this needs to be accessible in just a few clicks.
Want some examples of great restaurant websites? Lumiere the Restaurant, GRK Greek Kitchen, and Sugar Fixe have checked off all the items on this list and put their own personal touch on their websites.
Read through the Restaurant Website Checklist below to see how you can start improving the performance of your website. As you walk through the checklist, check out the 2020 Marketing Plan to see how else you can improve on the ideas above.