How to Design and Build the Best Website for your Restaurant
How to Design and Build the Best Website for your Restaurant
A well designed website has become an essential asset for most, if not all restaurant and food businesses. So often, your website will be your customers first interaction with your business, and everyone knows that first impressions matter. Considering that Millennials check a restaurants website 68% of the time before making a dining decision, having a well-functioning website that effectively conveys your brand can be one of the most important investments you can make.
Here are just a few of the things we think are essential to any restaurant’s website.
Let’s start with a quick fact - 81% of smartphone users have used their phone to find a restaurant online in the last month. In our own experience, around 60%-75% of all visitors coming to websites that we manage for our clients is coming from smartphones. With this in mind, we design many sites with a ‘mobile first’ strategy - as fewer visitors are looking at your website on desktop computers than ever.
It is important for your restaurant to have a mobile responsive site. This means that when the site is loaded on a smartphone, the layout is modified from the desktop site to fit the smaller screens on smartphones. If you don’t have a responsive site, it won’t function well on a smartphone, and users will get frustrated. These users (and your potential guests) will “bounce” from your site quickly and simply find another restaurant with a site they can easily navigate.
It’s not a Scavenger Hunt
Finding basic information about your restaurant on your site should be simple. Give your web visitors the key pieces without making them look for it - menu, location and hours of operation. People will quickly become frustrated if they can’t find the food menu, your phone number or address. If these key elements are not easy to find, they’ll leave your site and look for other options. There are a few key pieces of information that you want to make sure are either on your home page, or easy to navigate to:
THE MENU - on the sites that we manage, this is often the most-viewed page. More than any other piece of information, this is what guests want to see first.
ADDRESS - Make your address easy to find. Place it in the footer of your site so it appears on every page, make sure it’s easy to find on your homepage. We also suggest embedding a map in several places to make navigating to your restaurant even easier.
PHONE NUMBER AND CONTACT INFORMATION - Many times, a customer will come to your site because they want to ask a question, and making sure they have an easy way to do so is critical. Make sure to add you phone number to your footer and have an easy to find “Contact” page so customers can get in touch quickly.
ONLINE ORDERING - This feature has become increasingly popular with customers. We strongly suggest that if you don’t offer online ordering, consider making this feature available to your customers. If you already do offer online ordering, make it stand out on your site. The easier it is for you customers to find online ordering, the more successful your program will be.
RESERVATION POLICY - If your restaurant accepts reservations, make sure that is clearly communicated. And if you use a third-party platform such as RESO or Open Table, make a clear call-to-action on your site to book reservations online. Conversely, if you do not accept reservations, make sure you say that too - but soften the blow with some language about welcoming walk-in visitors.
Make it Easy
There are tons of different services out there to host, design and maintain your website. Some are incredibly powerful, enterprise focused solutions, others are more simple and allow for drag-and-drop design. We prefer something firmly in the middle, and have built all of our clients websites using Squarespace.
For a restaurant or food product, there are few better solutions out there. We love how easy it is to update content on Squarespace. At Fresh Branding, many of us have worked in the hospitality industry for years and know that with menu changes, special hours and events, there are often changes that need to be made quickly. And when a restaurant needs these updates, depending on a web developer to update a site is frustrating to say the least. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being held hostage by your web developers. Beyond all of the great function and design capabilities Squarespace offers, the thing we love the most is the ability to quickly train our clients how to update their own sites when they need to. While we are always happy to help update a client’s site, it is a great benefit for them to be able to do so themselves when the need arises.
Seeing as how your website could be a potential customers first time interacting with your restaurant, making a good, impactful first impression is critical. We’ve found that on our clients sites, the average visitor spends about 2 minutes on a website, meaning they aren’t always spending a ton of time reading all of the copy you have written. Pictures allow you to quickly convey your brand in a visual way. As we know, food images have taken over social media, and with all the food images that people see, quality matters here. Stunning images of your food is a surefire way to attract folks to your restaurant.
But beyond the food, you’ll also want to include images of your space. Sometimes people will come to your website to determine if your restaurant is a family-friendly environment, others might want to see if you have a private dining room or event space and what that looks like. And don’t forget to include people in these images! Showing an empty restaurant isn’t how you want to sell yourself.
Keep Things Fresh
Nothing is going to irritate a customer more than discovering a dish on your website’s menu that is no longer served. It’s really important to keep your menu up-to-date. As we mentioned before, this is often a restaurant’s most visited page.
But beyond the menu, it always helps to keep things updated. Updating or adding new copy can help with your search engine rankings, and adding new pictures from time to time keeps your site looking well maintained and updated.