The restaurant business is fiercely competitive, so owners are always on the lookout for ways to stand out from the competition. One of the best things you can do to attract customers is to have an attractive, mobile-friendly website that is easy to navigate and highlights your eatery’s great features.
If you want to draw website visitors towards your restaurant, your goal should be to do two things—showcase your tasty offerings and give visitors all the information they need to visit your establishment or order food. With that in mind, here are some elements you should consider for your restaurant website to help it stand out in search results and bring in customers.
First things first, you need a stellar design that reflects the style of your restaurant. Whether you run a food truck, a laid-back café, or an upscale Michelin star restaurant, your design should blend well with your brand and atmosphere. Luckily, there are thousands of beautifully designed templates out there to choose from. You can work with a web development company to build your site or use a DIY website builder like Wix, depending on your website goals, ability to manage the website, and the complexity of its features.
Of course, your website should be mobile-friendly. A high percentage of your website visitors will find you using a mobile device, so in addition to looking good on your desktop computer, your site should view well on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other browsing device. Aside from making it easier for visitors to navigate your site on the go, having a responsive website will also help you rank higher in search results. This is due to the fact that Google has rolled out its “mobile first” indexing, which essentially penalizes outdated websites with lower visibility in search.
If you already have a website, you can click on this mobile-friendly test to see if Google considers it mobile friendly.
Finally, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. What will your website images say about you?
For restaurants, great photos are key to attracting customers. Low-quality images reflect poorly on your restaurant and make your menu items look unappealing.
Your restaurant’s website should include high-quality images of your establishment (especially if it is dine-in) and mouth-watering photos of your menu items. If possible, we suggest getting a professional photographer to take these shots.
If that doesn’t work with your budget, a smartphone with a high-quality camera can do the trick. Be sure to use some staging techniques if you are taking your own pictures. For example, your restaurant’s interior and exterior should be clean and uncluttered. Menu items should be plated well and put on a white background to help them stand out. Make sure you have consistent lighting to avoid shadows. If you are working with a web design firm, they should be able to give you additional pointers.
If you are having trouble getting good photos but need to get your website live, you can turn to stock photography for some general website images. Here are some places to find high-quality stock photos (free and paid). When you are able, switch them out with actual photos from your restaurant.
Header and Footer
When designing your website, think about why people are visiting. For a restaurant, the answers are usually to find your contact information, location, hours of operation, or menu.
It only makes sense that this information should be included in your header or footer areas, so they are visible no matter what page your visitor clicks to.
We often put the address, with a link to Google Maps, in the header along with the phone number using a click to call feature. That way visitors can easily pull up directions or call you while on the go by simply touching a link.
The footer is a great spot for business hours and other contact info as well as links to the menu, online ordering, or other important pages.
Your home page is typically the most visited landing page for your website. Since you only get one shot to make a good first impression, this page should do the following things:
- Communicate the type of cuisine you offer and showcase any current specials
- Show mouth-watering images of some of your best dishes
- Have a clean, uncluttered design
- Include calls-to-action with buttons to “View Our Menu” or “Contact Us”
Many websites use large rotating sliders with a descriptive sentence on the home page to show off popular entrees and let visitors know about specials. Others use an inviting full-width static image at the top and include important bits of text with accompanying images as you scroll down the page. There is no right or wrong here, as long as you don’t overload your home page with too much content.
A dedicated menu page will give visitors a full picture of what you have to offer. Many websites break menus up into sections and add an accompanying image for each. We recommend including a printable menu as well so visitors can easily print it out. Avoid putting an image of your menu on your website because it will be hard for mobile users to read.
If you have tons of great photos that you think would add value for your website visitors, consider putting them into a photo gallery. You can go with a simple gallery or break your images down into albums by category, depending on how many you have. Keep in mind that the more images you have, the more slowly your page will load. We recommend leveraging your social media channels to showcase your images and using only the best, most representative shots in your website gallery to give visitors a nice overview of what you have to offer.
Share your story with an about page. Here you can talk about the inspiration for the restaurant, provide information about the owners, and highlight important team members (e.g. head chef).
This is also where you can communicate your restaurant’s philosophy. Maybe you specialize in vegan and vegetarian options, or you use locally sourced, organic ingredients. Perhaps all of your dishes are made from scratch using a family recipe that has been handed down for generations. Whatever the case, this is the page where you can express these thoughts.
The text on this page should be relatively short and include images of your ownership, team, and/or restaurant depending on the text you are including.
Your contact page should include a Google Map showing your location, all of your relevant contact information, your hours of operation, and a quick contact form so visitors can easily get in touch with you if they have questions or other feedback. The phone number and map should be clickable so users can get directions or call you with one touch from their smartphones.
Share rave reviews from your customers on your website by incorporating a testimonials element. This will add social credibility and encourage new visitors to give you a try. We like to use scrolling testimonials on the home page and on various pages throughout the website.
Now that we’re almost into 2020, many restaurants are turning to online ordering for delivery and takeout. This is incredibly convenient, and many customers prefer providing credit card info over a secure web page rather than reading it over the phone. It also cuts down on ordering and payment processing errors due to mistakes made by staff members when taking the orders.
When you are offering online ordering, you’ll want to have a prominent “Order Online” type button in the header of your website and on each page so customers don’t have to search for it. There are several different online ordering platforms you can use. We often recommend and incorporate Open Dining on our restaurant websites, although there are several options based on your needs and budget.
If you are a caterer, you can use a platform like ezCater to accept and manage online catering orders. There are also workarounds if you don’t have room in your budget for this, so discuss it with your web developer to choose the best solution for your business.
As with online ordering, if you offer online reservations, be sure to have a highly visible button or link in your header and across the website. Many restaurants use OpenTable’s reservation software for reservations, relationship building, and more.
On a tight budget? You can just create a reservation page and put a custom reservation form on that page. If you go this route, we recommend including the following fields: Name, email, phone number, date/time of reservation, number of people in party, and a blank field for comments or special requirements.
If you host catered events at your restaurant, be sure to have a dedicated page for it. Here you can spell out your policies, pricing, seating availability, and other pertinent information. Include a custom form on this page so visitors can request more information or check availability before booking an upcoming function. Also, include your catering menu here, especially if the options differ from your restaurant menu.
Do people love your brand? Do they frequently ask if you sell your signature salad dressings, sauces, or other items like branded t-shirts, hats, and the like? Do customers buy a lot of gift cards? Maybe you are already selling these things at your restaurant.
These are signs that you may be able to boost brand awareness and generate more sales with an online store on your website. An experienced web designer can help you set one up so you can begin generating sales 24/7.
Restaurant Web Design That Gets Results
Now that you know some of the key elements to a lead-generating restaurant website, you can get started on yours! If you are looking for a restaurant website designer, we’ve got you covered. OpenVine has built a number of restaurant websites for New England businesses. Get a free online quote or contact us today to see how we can help you achieve your goals.