Owning and operating a restaurant is no easy task. At any given time there are hundreds of things to be done. From food prep to staffing, managing all of this can be a challenge.
In a lot of cases, the restaurant website design takes a back seat to the day-to-day tasks required to run things successfully. While this might not seem like much of an issue, it is. Today, potential customers have every restaurant at their fingertips. People can find reviews, websites, locations and more just by typing "restaurant" into their phones browser.
For a restaurant that wants to stand out in an overabundance of options, it is important to have a website that will sell the restaurant. In the online world, everything else about running a restaurant takes a back seat. If you can't get customers through the door, nothing else matters.
Restaurant website design elements for success
This guide will explain exactly how a restaurant website should be designed for maximum conversion (people through the door). Implementing these steps can easily be done using an affordable web design company or the help from someone at Fiverr.com. Depending on your website platform, making these edits to your restaurant website shouldn't cost a lot but they will add value to your website and restaurant.
1. Mobile ready
Today, people are making their decisions on the fly because they know they are connected to the internet 24/7. This means that planning an outing goes to the wayside. Instead, people head out the door and figure out the next step while they're already mobile.
Because of this, it is very important that your website show up well on mobile devices. No pinch and grab, your restaurant website needs to be mobile optimized if you want to stand a chance in getting the attention of a customer.
A mobile ready website is called responsive. This simply means that the content on the website arranges itself according to the browser window size. In other words, if someone is on a computer, it will look different than if they were on their iPhone. A website development company that has a strong understanding of conversion and the importance of a mobile ready website, will make sure your website shows up great.
2. Contact and hours of operation
On a Friday night, as a couple is heading into town for dinner, the passenger is probably tasked with choosing the restaurant. If you live in a Foodie destination like Asheville, you know that finding a restaurant without a ridiculous wait time is a rare find. As the passenger is browsing through restaurant websites on their phone, they are looking for contact information that is easily accessible. If they can't find this information within a few seconds after arriving on the site, they will likely leave, putting you out of the running for their business.
3. Quick access to the menu
Whether a visitor to your restaurant's website is using their computer, a tablet, or a phone, make sure your restaurant menu is easily accessible.
If that visitor has never eaten at your restaurant before, they likely want to know what type of food you sell, and the price. Having this information available quickly will means you are a step closer to seeing them walk through your door.
In the example above, you can see that a menu button is one of the very first attributes of the homepage. This means the website visitor doesn't have to scroll down the page, and doesn't have to find the menu option in the website navigation. It is front and center.
4. Menu Display
I've come across many bad restaurant website menus. Most seemed to be a half assed attempt to list their food in some sort of coherent layout. While laying out elements on the internet is different than creating a menu on paper, it can make a huge difference if it's done correctly. In the example below, the restaurant chose to utilize a company called SinglePlatform. Just like this company, there are other services out there that allow restaurants to create and edit their menus in a single location and then publish this menu across multiple places on the internet.
An alternative is just to create and edit your restaurant menu directly on the website. The layout should be simple and straightforward. Stay away from the fancy additions that you might add to your printed menu. These are harder to work around on mobile devices. If you have professional images of your dishes, add them. If not, don't. You can make your food look worse by posting ugly photos.
5. Virtual tour
There is something new that Google has been up to that very few people know about. It's called Business View.
This new concept allows potential customers to walk right in off the street and into your restaurant on Google Map's Street View. Besides showing this tour on your restaurant's Google Plus page, you can embed the virtual tour directly on your website! It is a unique feature that shows customers the type of atmosphere you're offering without them having to step a foot through the door in reality.
6. Get reviews!
According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 National Household Survey, 34% of those polled said peer review sites like Google and Yelp play an important factor in their decision on where to eat. This is a huge number!
If your restaurant sells similar fare to others in your town, a lot of great reviews is extremely important. At a quick glance, this shows the viewer that you are more popular and you have better food. This will lead to more customers.
A restaurant website's design plays a very important role in capturing these reviews. While you could just ask each patron to visit a website like Yelp or Google and leave their review, they will probably forget. Unless they had very great service, or very bad service, they won't take the time it takes to help you generate more business. While this isn't good, it is even worse to have a horrible review posted publicly. A couple of these in a short time-frame and your restaurant can take a huge hit.
The best way to filter reviews and get more customers to engage is to set up a review system either on your site, or pay a monthly fee to a service provider that helps manage your reviews. A review portal that is created well will send bad reviews to your inbox for a chance to redeem your restaurant and staff, while good reviews will get redirected to peer review sites.
As an added bonus, capturing reviews this way also helps build a healthy email list. Emails are important for healthy restaurant growth and loyal patronage.
Make sure that it is easy to leave a review on your website. There should be multiple areas that are easy for a visitor to quickly find from their phone. The first 30-minutes after someone dines at your restaurant is the most likely time to receive reviews.
7. Email capture
As I mentioned above, collecting email information from past customers is an important part of any restaurant... or business for that matter. An email allows you to reach out to customers and entice them to come in instead of waiting for them to come back to you on their own.
A good reason to collect email addresses is for birthdays. This is an easy way to persuade a customer to give this valuable information. It also means that at least once a year, there is a good chance that they will come back and not only dine with you, but spend more due to the celebration.
A good email capture form on your restaurant website will collect the visitors name (at least their first name), and email address. Of course if you are collecting it for birthday promotion purposes, make sure you collect the month of birth or entire birthday.
We've covered the most important elements for creating a great restaurant website design. Remember that your website plays a very important part in getting customers through the door. A neglected website is just letting customers pass you by. Make sure your restaurant website is ready for all mobile devices, and you are building up a healthy number of positive reviews.
Curious about how your restaurant website is performing and how to improve? get a professional website review for free.
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