5 Tips for a Great Restaurant Website Design
Aroma. Music. Conversation. Delicious flavors.
These are ways that restaurants attract people who are physically near their establishments. These are also ways to keep customers coming back.
How do you attract people digitally? How do you use the internet to build loyalty?
It can involve social media and requires search engine optimization (SEO). It starts with restaurant website design.
In addition to applying the fundamentals of great web design, restaurants need to pay attention to unique aspects of their industry. Good websites do more create an online presence. They maximize it.
Here are five of the most critical to help you develop a knock-out restaurant website design.
1. Know Your Customer
Before all else, the look and feel of a restaurant website design must:
- Appeal to the people you want to attract
- Match the experience of the real thing
For example, if most of the people who walk into your restaurant and pay real dollars to eat there are professionals in their 20s, don’t design a site that appeals to multi-generational dining.
If you are trying to attract more families, ensure your restaurant atmosphere, menu, and service align to that goal. Then you can adjust the design of your website.
Also, if you’re in an area that attracts out-of-town visitors, make sure your site is welcoming from that perspective. Include links to rating sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Embed a dynamic map. Point out your proximity to other attractions.
2. Interact With Customers
Good restaurant website design allows for easy, two-way communication with customers.
Maximize the value of the obligatory Contact Us page. Address, phone number, and email address are mandatory contact info. Don’t stop there.
Many restaurateurs have discovered the value of being active on Instagram and Twitter. Add live feeds to your social media accounts to your website. Respond to users comments to create dialogue and reflect the tone of your restaurant.
Create a section on your website to take customers behind the scenes. Offer brief stories with images to bring your business to life. Some examples (with sample headlines):
- Preparing dishes you want to highlight: “How We Get the Crunch Into Our Crispy Chicken”
- Buying the ingredients for popular menu items: “Four A.M. Trip to the Farmer for Fresh Tomatoes”
- How special pieces of equipment work: “The Secret to Our Frozen Cocktails: Ice Maker Zone“
Implement a restaurant website design that allows for comments below each story. Encourage customer interaction before and after they visit your restaurant. Interaction increases the likelihood of repeat sales and positive word of mouth.
3. Use High-Quality Photos
It’s obvious that good restaurant website design includes imagery on every page. You want virtual visitors to imagine eating and smelling your food.
Use photographs, never illustrations or graphics. Invest in high-quality photographers taken by a professional or talented amateur.
Enticing photos of food don’t just happen. It takes proper lighting, context and color saturation along with great plate presentation, which is your chef’s role.
Having a gallery is often helpful on a restaurant website. Don’t overdo it. It’s better to have 6-9 images than a dozen or more.
You don’t want web visitors to grow bored scrolling through a lot of images. Better to have a few and leave them wanting more.
Use a website design that makes it easy to swap out gallery images. You should refresh your gallery every month or two.
If you want to generate traffic like a top website, consider how to include video in an organic way.
4. Be Mobile Optimized
If your restaurant website design doesn’t look good and function properly on a smartphone or tablet, you’ve wasted your money. Worse, you’ll turn off customers.
Think about where people are when they search for a place to eat or need to check your menu for vegetarian options. They’re on the go. Or at a friend’s place. Or at work and don’t want the boss to see what they’re Googling.
That’s right, they’re on a mobile device.
Creating a site that is easy and pleasant to use on a phone or tablet is no longer optional.
Images must resize. The appropriate “keyboard” should pop up, making it easy to enter contact or reservation information. Page content needs to be brief and written in chunks.
The code behind the pages should be lean. Cumbersome code slows down page loading and can chew up user’s data unnecessarily.
Also, never use PDFs. too many restaurants rely on PDF files for menus. This is a mistake.
Trying to read a PDF on a phone is a frustrating experience. Even on a desktop, they can be unappealing. Most menus are designed to be effective while in people’s hands and seldom translate well to digital.
Instead, post menus on web pages with easy navigation and relevant layout. The more pleasant a user’s experience is on your website, the more likely they are to become a paying customer.
5. Create Digital Accessibility
When creating or revamping a website, make sure to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Creating a website that can be used with readers and other assistive devices isn’t difficult. It also doesn’t prevent it from being beautiful or easy for wider audiences to use.
As the National Restaurant Association points out, not having a digitally accessible website leaves you open to legal risk. But more than it, it’s a smart business decision.
Just like you don’t want to exclude a paying customer who can’t physically get into or navigate through your restaurant, don’t exclude them from visiting your website.
Closing Thoughts About Restaurant Website Design
Think of your restaurant website as a virtual extension of your business. There are certain features and functions you must have in your restaurant.
Tables, chairs, and washrooms are not optional. Authentic and warm service works better than indifferent behavior. Exceeding customers’ expectations is better than giving them an underwhelming experience.
Translate those qualities to your online presence and you could have a website that’s as much a destination as your actual restaurant.
For more business tips, insights, and tools, check out our blog again and again. New posts are added every few days.