In this day and age, it’s commonplace for consumers to research restaurants’ websites while choosing a place to eat. This is why websites for restaurants are so important! That being said, the restaurant industry is notorious for poor-quality and outdated websites.
A quality website can make the difference between a new customer and a missed opportunity. No matter how great your food, service, and ambiance are, a poorly constructed website can reflect badly on your business.
Many people assume the quality of a restaurant’s website is reflective of the quality of the restaurant itself. So you definitely want to be sure to keep your restaurant website design in tip-top shape!
Consider your website the face of your restaurant’s brand. It’s what forms potential customers’ first impression and sets the stage for their expectations. You’ve already perfected your menu, customer service, and location, now it’s time to make your website compliment that!
At LYFE Marketing, we create quality websites for all different industries, designed to drive business and promote conversions! You can trust us to improve your restaurant’s business with a beautiful and effective website. Read on to learn about 13 features all successful websites for restaurants must have.
1. Contact information
When you’re designing a website for your business, you have to consider why people might be visiting your website in the first place. When it comes to websites for restaurants, one of the most common reasons someone might visit your site is to check your location, hours, or phone number to ask a question or make a reservation.
In addition to a contact page, your restaurant’s address, phone number, and hours should be visible on all pages like the example below. The circled areas are present on every page.
This makes it as easy as possible for website visitors to become real visitors to your restaurant.
You can even link your address to Google maps so directions are just a click away no matter where your visitors are located! Likewise, a clickable phone number that can be auto-dialed for mobile website visitors is also a great idea.
Aside from figuring out your restaurant’s location or phone number, one of the most common reasons for someone to visit your restaurant’s website is to check out the menu.
A responsive online menu is incredibly important. Don’t just upload a photo of your actual menu because:
- It can be difficult for mobile users to scroll through.
- It is more difficult for search engines to read.
This also goes for PDF menus. It’s best to avoid any unnecessary steps to get your website visitors to the information they’re looking for.
Forcing people to download a PDF of your menu instead of listing your menu details directly on the site is a major faux pas. Many people will click off your website the second they see the download button. PDF menus are an especially huge nuisance for mobile users since downloading a menu takes up data, and that doesn’t come cheap!
As an alternative, consider linking a PDF version of your menu that opens a new tab for users. It loads quickly and is easy to view.
3. Great images of your food
Never underestimate the power of great pictures! Unfortunately, people can’t taste images. Having images of your food on your website is important to give consumers a glimpse of what you have to offer. However, low-quality or unappetizing images can have the opposite effect.
One thing to keep in mind when taking photos of your food is that people like seeing portion sizes. Be honest with the portions shown in your photos, otherwise, patrons might be upset if they receive a smaller plate than they expected based on what they saw on your website.
Show off how tasty your restaurant’s food is with high resolution, well-staged images. You don’t necessarily need images of every item on the menu, but the more the merrier! Even if you don’t use every photo that gets taken on your website, they can come in handy for your social media or if you ever decide to do a menu redesign!
Investing in high-quality photos from a professional photographer is a worthwhile investment. A single good photo can gain you countless customers! That being said smartphone photos might not do the trick. Sure, smartphone cameras have come a long way, but photos for your website should not be taken lightly.
You can even put images of the food directly on the menu so people can see a corresponding image when they read about a particular dish. Even if you don’t want images of the food on your physical menus, you may want to consider adding them to your online menu. Someone who is already inside your restaurant will likely stick around.
However, when they are reading your menu on your website, you have to entice them to come to the physical location in the first place. Adding photos to the menu shows you’re willing to go the extra mile, and a particularly tasty looking dish can convince someone who may have been on the fence simply reading about it.
4. Online ordering (or at least online reservations)
It’s 2018, and that means more and more restaurants and fast food joints have turned to online ordering options for delivery and takeout. The ease of online ordering is incredibly tempting to consumers, especially over placing orders by phone.
Many people feel more comfortable providing credit card information on a secure website than reading the card number over the phone, plus there are fewer chances of orders being messed up my mishearing someone.
Even if you don’t have delivery services or offer takeout, offering mobile options for placing reservations or placing catering orders can be extremely beneficial to your business.
5. Images of your restaurant’s interior
In addition to photos of the food, websites for restaurants should also include images of the restaurant itself. These images help set the scene for future customers so they know what to expect when they step foot in your restaurant. Ideally, your website should feature pictures of both the interior and exterior of your restaurant. If the exterior needs a little work, images of just the interior should do the trick.
The image below is an example of a website that utilizes many of the features we have discussed in this article including online ordering and a menu. It also features an awesome photo of the outside of the restaurant right on the home page. This can help solidify brand recognition when people pass by the restaurant and helps hungry website visitors know when they’ve found the right place!
6. A website theme that matches your restaurant’s style
As a restaurant owner, you understand the importance of atmosphere! Think of your website as an extension of your physical space. Does your website create a virtual version of the same atmosphere your restaurant provides? The restaurant below does. They even offer a virtual tour so patrons can see more of what their restaurant is like.
Consistency is key! If you run an upscale restaurant that caters to wealthier clientele, opt for a minimalistic design for your website with plenty of white space. If your restaurant is geared towards families, add a few whimsical features.
Since your website is often the first thing people see before they go to your restaurant, you want their first impression to be consistent with what they will see when they get there. You can even match the color scheme of your website to the decor of your restaurant!
Use your website to evoke the type of experience you hope your restaurant creates for its visitors. You definitely want to attract the right kinds of customers and create proper expectations. A cheaply designed website with lots of conversational text might draw the attention of fast food lovers while a sleek, modern design could attract more high-brow consumers.
7. A unique “about” section
Websites for restaurants can really benefit from the use of an “about” section. Look at the about section for your website as an opportunity to tell your story. Do you only use locally sourced ingredients? Let your customers know! Were you inspired by your great-grandmother’s recipes? Tell people all about it!
The about section is also a great opportunity to play up your restaurant’s key advantages. Do you have ample parking? Do you hire only experienced chefs? Are you known for quick service? Do you have free wifi? Let your website visitors know!
If you’re not sure which strengths you should play up, look no further than your online reviews. Comb Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, and any other prominent review platform to see what real restaurant-goers are saying they like best about your business.
The pictures of your food should do the talking, but you can also use the about section to inform readers about your food. The combination of eye-catching images and skillfully written text can really help engage visitors and help them see the full picture of what you have to offer.
Think of the about section as the main opportunity to differentiate your restaurant from the competition. Highlight what makes your spot different and special.
8. When possible, include videos!
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is worth 1,000,000! Here are some ideas for videos you could include on your site:
- Reviews from customers. Most restaurant patrons might not like having a camera in their face while they’re eating, but many will be more than willing to say a few kind words on camera in exchange for a free or discounted meal. You can even work with food bloggers/influencers to create meaningful video reviews for your website. They may not be free, but they could be a worthwhile investment for gaining new customers in the future!
- Food being prepared. Giving future restaurant patrons a glimpse into the food prep process can speak volumes about the cleanliness of your kitchen and the freshness of your ingredients.
- A video explaining the restaurant’s founding and mission statement. This can be a great opportunity to put some life into the words on your about section. This restaurant created a mini-documentary to go along with their about section!
9. Event calendar
This is not necessary for all websites for restaurants, but if you have somewhat frequent events or rotating specials, it can be helpful to include a calendar on your website. Just remember to update the calendar regularly. There is nothing more frustrating than clicking on a calendar only to find it has not been updated for years.
If you’re looking for some fun events to host at your restaurant to draw in customers, consider regularly occurring trivia or bingo nights. Websites for restaurants are a prime hub to host information about upcoming events that can be advertised through social media.
10. Links to your social media profiles and review sites
Websites for restaurants are great for cross-promoting your social media and review site profiles. You can stick links in the footer of your website, or on a unique page dedicated specifically to outside links.
Just make sure your social media sites are consistent with the branding of your website and that you stay active on review sites, responding to reviews as needed. Side note: your social media platforms should link back to your website as well! You didn’t work hard on it not to show it off. All links should also open up new windows or tabs to ensure people don’t exit completely from your website.
This is a web design feature that is not actually recognizable to consumers but is essential for all successful websites for restaurants. You can’t keep track of how effective your website is without some sort of analytics.
There are various analytics tools that can track everything from where website visitors are located to which pages get the most views.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few useful metrics you should be tracking
- Bounce rate: bounce rate refers to the rate at which people exit your site without converting into a customer. The more time people send on your site, the better, so you’ll want your bounce rate to be as low as possible.
- Keywords: If you plan on doing any search engine optimization or Google advertising, you will definitely want to know which keywords people are searching to find your website. This can also help you refine the words you use to market your business. For example, if many people have found your site by searching “burger joint near me,” you may want to stress your awesome burgers even if you have plenty of other menu items.
- Devices: You can actually track what kinds of devices people are accessing your website from. Given the on-the-go nature of the average restaurant website visitor, it’s likely the majority of your visitors are on mobile devices. Analytics can help you determine whether or not you are accurately tapping into the mobile market, as well as which operating systems your visitors are commonly using.
Interested in tracking your website’s effectiveness? Talk to the experts! We would be more than happy to help.
12. Catering and event reservation information
If you offer catering options or allow your restaurant to be rented out for parties, weddings, or corporate events, be sure to include this information on a separate page of your website. These can be huge opportunities for you and your business, so you want to make the information as easy to find as possible. Otherwise, website visitors may be tempted to look elsewhere.
13. Responsive layout
52% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices. It is absolutely imperative for all websites for restaurants to be able to adjust to any screen size or device type. Many people search for restaurant website on the go while deciding where to eat. If your website isn’t easy to navigate on a mobile device, you’re missing out! Many fast food chains even offer mobile payment options, making mobile websites for restaurants and even apps all the more important.