As a web designer, there are a few best practices you must follow when it comes to creating an effective website for a restaurant.
Before we dive into the details of what it takes to have a winning restaurant website, lets touch base on why you need a website for your establishment.
Why Does Your Restaurant Need A Website?
Your website is a tool for you to reclaim your restaurant’s identity from review-centric websites such as Yelp and Google. When you’re a restaurant owner and you don’t have a website, by default you are directing all potential traffic to reviews about your establishment on websites such as Yelp.
When this happens, your brand and business are now at the mercy of your customers. A bad review is like a sneeze. It can trigger other bad reviews causing a negative effect on your business.
Put a halt to this by deterring traffic back to you. Your website absorbs all traffic that relates to your restaurant first. Make sure you claim your restaurant on other sites and add your website to it. This strategy will re-direct traffic back to your website and confirm to Google that your restaurant relates to food (since the listing appears on a site that deals with food and restaurants).
Your website draws new foot traffic to your local business. Your website strengthens your presence in the real world by offering a glimpse of your business and the quality of your food.
The purpose of a restaurant website is to entice a potential patron to dine at your establishment. Your website must persuade and appeal to a person’s basic need for survival—i.e., a need for mouth-water, delectable food.
You should view your restaurant’s website as an extended billboard or commercial. The content that appears on your website must be informative and include quality SEO keywords.
Put yourself in the mindset of a person who is looking to eat a specific type of food. You’re probably hungry and expect Google to give you a listing of restaurants that specialize in Southern comfort cuisine.
Let’s say you choose the first website that appears in Google’s search engine result page.
You expect a few things from the restaurant website without even realizing it.
You expect a full menu that shows you beautiful, clear photos of the available meals. You expect to read an About Us landing page that gives a description of the type of food the restaurant serves. You also want to see the restaurant—indoor and outdoor. Where are the beautiful, stunning photos? If the restaurant bills itself as a luxury restaurant, you may expect to see a Reservation section where you can set an appointment.
So you can imagine how frustrating it is when you do visit a restaurant’s website and it’s missing many of the points mentioned above.
The average user spends 2.6 seconds to determine whether or not the content on a website aligns with her wants or needs.
Thus, the perfect restaurant website must quickly capitalize on that window of opportunity by providing detailed information while still following the principles of web design.
The perfect restaurant website will be:
- Visually stunning
- User friendly
- High in readability
- Mobile friendly
Below are a list of items your restaurant website needs in order to attract potential patrons.
Does Your Website Offer Curb Appeal?
When you walk down a bustling street for a place to eat, you get a sense of the restaurant from its curb appeal. You can peer into the windows to get a sense of the atmosphere.
You should view your website as a digital curb appeal.
Your website needs to quickly and clearly convey the atmosphere of your restaurant. The photo that you use for your homepage must be visible to visitors when they visit your website.
Does Your Website Have A Blog?
Content is king. Quality content that includes SEO keywords is what drives traffic to your website from a search engine result page. A content strategist can create a winning content strategy that will get your landing pages indexed on Google. Your website’s blog should focus on topics that relate to your restaurant, specifically the type of cuisine you serve. Creating blog posts around subtopics that relate to your restaurant’s type of cuisine is a great way to get your content indexed on Google. For example, if you’re restaurant specializes in Southern comfort food, your website can include the following blog posts:
- 7 Side Dishes You Can Make At Home
- How To: Make Southern Sweet Tea
- How To: Make Our Baked Macaroni & Cheese
- Three Substitutes You Can Use Instead Of Sugar
- How To: Make Our Favorite Fried Chicken
- What’s Your Favorite Southern Comfort Food Dessert?
- How To: Make The Perfect Mimosa For Brunch
- What’s Your Brunch Decorating Style?
- 5 Bakeries Downtown We Can’t Get Enough Of
- 4 Dishes You Should Serve At Your Next Football Rally
- 4 Sandwiches You Can Make With Our Leftover Honey Baked Turkey
Is Your Website Secure?
When you make a purchase online, you are vulnerable to scams like phishing, social engineering attacks, and more. Once you give an online retailer your information, it’s their job to protect the data that you give them.
You must be careful who you trust with your information online. Before giving any information to a website, you should make sure it is secure.
Look at the URL of the website. If a website begins with “https” (instead of “http”) it means the site is secured using an SSL Certificate. The “s” in SSL stands for secure.
SSL Certificates secure all of your data as it is passed from your browser to the website’s server. To get an SSL Certificate, your company must go through a validation process.
There are different levels of validation. The lowest level of validation, Domain Validation (DV), validates ownership of the domain and not the legitimacy of the organization requesting the certificate.
If you’re requesting the Extended Validation certificate, you must prove your identity as well your restaurant’s legitimacy. You can tell if a site has an EV certificate by looking at the address bar. Browsers show a green address bar with a lock icon for websites with EV certificates.
Does Your Website Have A Contact Us Page?
It may seem like an obvious landing page to have, but you’d be surprised by how many websites are on the Internet without a Contact Us page. Your restaurant’s Contact Us page should give the following information in a concise manner. According to HubSpot, at the best contact pages typically include the following:
- Explain why someone should contact them, and describe how they can help solve their visitors’ problems.
- Include an e-mail, address and phone number.
- Include a short form using fields that’ll help the business understand who’s contacting them.
- Include a call-to-action like signing up for a weekly newsletter
- Link to active social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to give visitors a way to engage with the business.
The number or address should be able to be clicked on or copied right from the site in order to place the call or send an email conveniently and quickly says Mashable. Most smartphones these days have the ability to do “click to call” on the web, so make the process as easy as possible for visitors.
Does Your Website Have An About Us Page?
A restaurant’s About Us page should convey your establishment’s unique identity in a compelling way. This section is one of the most important pages on your website.
An About Us page should:
- Tell us a story.
- It skips the business babble.
- It’s visually interesting.
- It’s lovable and memorable.
Is Your Website Integrated With Social Media?
Your restaurant has many identities in the digital world.
Social platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest can help your restaurant go viral. Make all identities connect through your website. Integrating these platforms into your website will help boost your SEO, improve your business’ footprint on the social web and build your following across numerous social platforms.
Is it worth it to maintain a presence on so many social platforms? Yes — as long as you actually maintain your content, you’ll keep your brand top-of-mind and keep users engaged. “Social media is not going to leave us anytime soon and its worth the investment in time — it does make a difference,” says Mills.
Does Your Website Offer A Menu?
“What’s on the menu?” That’s one of the top three questions you’ll ask about a restaurant you’ve never visited.
It’s a critical question and one that your website needs to answer. Your menu offerings is what visitors are going to use to determine whether or not they should eat at your establishment.
Many web designers seem to forget this and create restaurant websites without a menu.
Perspective patrons want to reach your website and quickly glance over your menu.
They want to see the meals your restaurant carries that will appease their craving. They want to see the prices. If you’re restaurant does not serve traditional American food, they want an explanation of the dish in clear English even if its title is another language. They want to know its ingredients translated in English.
Its imperative that the photos featured on your restaurant website are actual photos of the food that is served at your establishment.
Also, be mindful of patrons with children. If your restaurant offers a kids menu, make sure its separate from the adult menu. Make a children’s menu appealing to children.
Because the food menu is such a pivotal aspect of your website it should not be static. Its common practice to create a PDF menu and upload it to your website. A PDF menu is great for saving or downloading it to your desktop. But as far as Google’s concern, it’s search engine bots cannot read a static image like a PDF document. A PDF menu acts as a form of bad friction. Depending on its size, it can slow down your website.
Its imperative that you create a menu as a landing page. Your menu must include attractive photos that entice a visitor to eat. Your menu must be categorized in sections like a traditional menu but still maintain the principles of web design.
You can include a PDF menu to download but the PDF menu cannot be the sole menu on your website. It also must be optimized so it doesn’t slow down your website. If this happens, Google will give you a poor ranking because it considers your PDF menu as a bad friction.
Does Your Website Offer Online Ordering?
Many people want the option to eat delicious food from your restaurant but from the comfort of their home. Adding an option to place an order online gives your restaurant another stream of revenue through online orders. If your restaurant offers online ordering, you should be explicitly clear about the following points:
- Estimated delivery time
- Whether a delivery order is limited to specific types of food or the entire menu
- Available methods of payment
Can I Make Reservations From Your Website?
If you’re an indoor, upscale restaurant patrons are going to want the luxury of making reservations from their home. There should be a form a potential patron can fill out to make a reservation. Make sure to include a time limit on the reservation so guests can arrive on time.
Is Your Website Optimized For Mobile?
Think about it. If you’re looking up a restaurant on Google you’re likely to dine at a restaurant that same day or later in the week. You’re probably using your smartphone to search for a restaurant. According to Google, more than 50 percent of search queries globally come from mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile its as if you don’t exist on Google. Google uses mobile optimization as one of the signals to determine your website’s ranking.
This is a common scenario. As a business owner, you need to consider your audience. Your audience is most likely accessing your website through a mobile device.
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