No matter how attractive your restaurant's website design may be, it will not produce the results you want unless it includes all the essential elements that customers want to see when looking for a place to eat.
The most important aspect of creating an effective restaurant website is that it efficiently conveys critical information like location, hours, contact information & more while enticing new customers. It is easy to get wrapped up in the "coolness" of a new website.
This list is intended to help you see beyond the typeface, color scheme, and other bells & whistles that catch the eye of customers but will not boost sales unless you get to the heart of your restaurant's website. These seven elements are "must-have" inclusions in any restaurant website design:
1. 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. Accurate information in these areas will not only help diners get to know your restaurant at a glance, but they will improve your rank in Google search results.
2. Social Media Profiles
You want website visitors to stay connected with you. By utilizing social media for your business, this is a fantastic way to extend reach and improve the effectiveness of your posts. Visitors will go to your website to be sure that they are connected to the right social media page. Because you are probably not the only "Bob's Burgers" or "Taco Hut" on Facebook, it is essential to link your Facebook page through the website to avoid confusion with another location.
A recent study showed that 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. That means you must post your menu, but don't put your menu in a downloadable PDF format. Those are too difficult to handle promptly on a smartphone. 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.
4. Online Ordering
In recent years, digital ordering from computers, tablets, and cell phones has grown at a rate that is 300% faster than dine-in traffic for the same time period. While food search engines like GrubHub are popular with consumers, restaurant operators have discovered that the high fees and rising commissions of such third-party vendors are not worth the cost. Powerful restaurant management platforms enable restaurateurs to host online ordering themselves and bypass the fee-based structure of third-party vendors.
Imagery is the most effective way to send a message about your business. Photos convey what to expect and look forward to when guests come to the restaurant in person. Be sure and use them on your site and in promotional ventures. Catch 122, a seafood restaurant, combined their social media strategy & website photography into a 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. That is a low-cost, win-win marketing campaign for you and your customers.
6. Your Story
Your website is the perfect place to highlight your restaurant's personality and history. Are you sourcing food from local farms? Using family recipes that have been passed down for generations? Is there a colorful story behind the restaurant's name? Tell your visitors about it an "About Us" or "Our Story" section of the website. Diners love to feel connected to the places where they like to eat.
7. Mobile Compatibility
Within the past month, statistics tell us that 81% of smartphone users have searched for at least one restaurant on their mobile device. You don't have to have a custom app to be part of the search process. You simply need to have a website that plays nicely with a mobile screen. Mobile compatibility 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.
Those seeking inspiration for ways to improve their restaurant websites can check out the efforts of fellow restaurateurs from Lumiere the Restaurant, GRK Greek Kitchen, and Sugar Fixe. All three of those sites check off all seven of the items on this list while putting their own personal touches on their websites.