In today’s world, if your business isn’t online, you’re missing out on a huge number of potential customers. This is true for any business, but especially so for restaurants. With 57 percent of guests researching restaurants online before they go, you don’t just need a website – you need a great one. So what should you include on your top-notch restaurant website?
Focus on the following elements:
- Quality design
- Updated menu
- Reservation options
- Online ordering
- Contact iInformation
- Social media links
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1. Quality Design
The first thing your restaurant website needs is a modern design that aligns with your brand and the look of your restaurant. If you don’t have the budget to hire a website designer, services like that can provide a variety of customizable templates designed specifically for restaurants. Using one of these templates along with some professional photos of your restaurant interior, food, and staff will make the template unique and ownable to you.
While these website building sites describe themselves as “drop-and-drag,” you do need to be a bit technically savvy to navigate them. If that’s not your thing, save yourself a lot of time and frustration by hiring experts instead. There are agencies that specialize in building websites for the unique needs of restaurants, as well as how to market them online.
Good design goes beyond what looks nice – it’s about usability too. Many website templates are pre-designed to be responsive on mobile, and a good website designer will know the importance of a mobile and tablet-friendly design. With 52 percent of all internet activity happening on mobile devices, it’s important to make sure the service or designer you are about to sign up with includes responsive design.
Check out this example from Coquette of New Orleans, LA:
Pro Tip – First impressions matter: If your website has outdated technology like a Flash player that auto-plays when the homepage opens, or a poor design and user experience, modern diners are going to be turned off from your brand within seconds.
2. Updated menu
If someone has never been to your restaurant before, chances are one of the first things they will be searching for on your website is the menu.
Here are a few tips for making the most out of your menu page:
- Don’t just upload an image or PDF. It can be harder for mobile users to read and navigate. Instead, focus on building a well-designed menu page that follows the same best practices as physical menu design.
- Include prices. People are weighing a lot of options when choosing a restaurant, price being a major factor for most. If your prices aren’t readily available, they will move on to the next option.
- Include photos of best-sellers. We eat with our eyes first, so entice new customers with professionally shot images of your top two or three most popular dishes.
- Make sure your menu is up to date. Take the time to keep your menu up-to-date. There is nothing worse than a customer coming to your restaurant for a specific menu item, and then having to tell them that was from last season’s specials.
3. Reservation options
While you can include reservation information in multiple places on your website, you should also have a dedicated space that’s easy to find and access from the homepage. Also include any policies you have regarding reservations, such as no-shows or large party requirements. This is another good place to include your hours as well.
If you’re still taking reservations by phone only, now is a good time to add an online option. While some places use email, a third-party site like OpenTable can be beneficial to you and your guests; these sites allow you to confirm reservations with one click, simplifying the process and giving guests peace of mind. And, since some folks use sites like OpenTable to find new restaurants, this is another place for new guests to find you.
Check out this example from Birch in Providence, RI:
4. Online ordering
The trend of ordering food online has skyrocketed in the last few years with no signs of slowing down. With 60 percent of diners ordering takeout at least once a week, you’re missing out on some major opportunities if you’re not using online ordering.
Sites like GrubHub and Postmates are popular third-party options, but their commission charges can put a serious dent in your bottom line. Using an online ordering system that integrates with your restaurant technology will keep that money in-house. An integrated option also means orders get sent directly to your POS – no more punching in orders as they come in from third parties! You also get enhanced customer insights that allow you to better serve and market to your diners. Win-win…win!
5. Contact information
They’ve stayed for the design, the menu has convinced them to come in – now how do your guests get to you? There are at least four things your contact page should have:
- Phone number. Make sure it has a clickable link so mobile users can call with one tap.
- Address. This is important for everyone, but especially so for multi-location restaurants.
- Email. Whether you provide an email address or embed a contact form, there should be a way for guests to contact you for non-urgent issues.
- Hours. A big reason people call restaurants is to check if and when they are open. Having the hours available on the contact page saves time on the phone for both you and them.
If you offer special services like catering or special events, you can mention that on your contact page as well.
Check out this example from Gracie’s in Providence, RI:
6. Social Media Accounts
Your website should link to your social media accounts, but make sure you are keeping up with them! An account that hasn’t seen any activity in weeks or months can be a red flag to some – potential guests may even question if you are still in business. In many cases, it can be better to pick one social media platform to focus your energy on at first. Find out which one will work best for your restaurant.
A great social media account will be updated at least a few times a week and be customer-focused. It’s a place for you to interact with them, introduce your staff, post photos of daily specials, advertise events, and more. With 3.2 billion daily active social media users, it’s important for restaurants to incorporate social media into their marketing plans.
Check out this example from Polite Provisions in San Diego, CA:
Most websites have icons linking to their social accounts in the top right of the homepage or in the footer, so that’s where most people are used to finding them.
Pro Tip: If you have an email newsletter (and we think you should!) put a link to sign up for it near your social media links so your customers can stay connected.
Your website analytics isn’t something your customers will see, but important nonetheless. Signing up for Google Analytics is free and easy, but learning how to use it might take a little more time. (Some website services will even pull data from Google and simplify it for you.)
However, once you’ve familiarized yourself with analytics, you’ll be able to see valuable data about your website visitors and make changes or upgrades to your site based on certain behaviors. So, if you see in your analytics reporting that you lose visitors within one second of them clicking on your contact page, you could try changing something on that page to get visitors to take action.
Building a new website or overhauling an outdated one is a major task, especially if you’re taking a more DIY route. But once you’re up and running, the payback you receive from it will be more than worth it – you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Once your website has all of the necessary pieces, you can start pushing customers to it using email marketing. Check out these ideas for your next campaign.