Build a Better Restaurant Website

June 23, 2014 - 8 minutes read

So you’ve maximized your social media presence, optimized your keywords and followed our advice about how to drive traffic to your website. And it’s working! You’re getting the increase in clicks you want. However driving traffic to a website is only half the battle. Once you grab a customer’s attention, your website needs to work to draw your customer into your physical restaurant.

Here are some essential building blocks necessary to build a restaurant website that works effectively as a marketing tool:

Theme.

Your website provides first impression of your restaurant for internet savvy diners. You need to whet their appetites and extend the same level of ambiance and customer service that you would if they were standing at your host station checking out the menu. Choose a clean design that matches the tone of your restaurant. Select a color palette that mirrors your restaurants themes. Choose fonts that are easy to read and look sharp on a screen.taphouse_website
If you built your website in 2006, you need an update… if it got built in 2012; it’s probably time to update as well. The internet moves fast. Trends both design-related and functional change often.

Modern sites are highly visual, clean and most of are responsive. This means they are built to look great on both computers and mobile devices. If your web design is stale—or worse doesn’t work–diners will assume that your menu is stale as well. The freshness of your website is essential to building and maintaining your brand.

Business Information.

Even the most beautiful website is useless to a prospective restaurant customer if it doesn’t provide the information necessary to find the restaurant. Make certain that your hours of operation, address and telephone number are clear and visible on the front page. If you bury this information or even neglect to include it on your site, you are missing the benefit of having a website. A website is the opportunity to communicate with your customers 24/7—what phone calls do you receive most often? You want that information readily available.

If your restaurant is difficult to find, has odd parking or will be closed for certain holidays share this information as well. The journey to your front door is part of the overall experience. Good information makes your customer’s experience easy, efficient and fun. Bad information sets the wrong tone before they even get seated.

Menu.

lepeep_menuIncluding an up-to-date menu on your site is crucial to communicating with your audience. We live in a time of complicated diets and food allergies. Including your menu on your site helps groups of people know that there will be something to match everyone’s palate and dietary restrictions. Including your menu also helps attract hungry diners who will already be excited about their dining experience before they even sit down.

Photographs.

plumgarden_photosEach generation of the web becomes more visual. New, dynamic websites include large format photographs that show in a single image what it previously took many paragraphs to convey. Including great photographs on your website allows you to make immediate impact. Consider hiring a photographer to provide high quality and high resolution shots. Nothing is more inviting to a potential customer than a robust picture of your signature dish or a rich photograph illustrating your beautiful patio. Photographs help instill confidence that your restaurant is the right choice. If you can’t hire a professional follow our tips on how to be a restaurant photographer here.

Contact Form.

You can drive customer communication and build loyalty by including a sign-up form for your e-newsletter. This boosts customer awareness of your brand and encourages continued interaction—which is invaluable to your marketing strategy. You may also include a contact form or email for customers to use for general correspondence or even a link to make reservations online.brunchcafe_contactform

This is recommended because you want to always appear accessible to your customers, with one caveat. If you include a contact form, make certain that you have someone providing timely responses to email inquiries. Do not include this information on your page if you are not able to provide a timely online response to email. Be honest, let customers know if the general email account is only responded to once a day and more urgent inquiries should be handled via telephone. You want to provide the best customer service possible.

Social Media.

Many small business owners believe that a business Facebook page is the same as having a website. While having a Facebook is a useful tool for your business, it does not replace the form or function of a fully functional website. Facebook owns any content you place on it and can control how it looks and who sees it. A formal website allows you to independently control your content and web presence over time.

However it is useful to integrate your social media presence onto your website. This may be as simple as including linked buttons to your social network pages. If your social media presence is strong—you update your specials daily on Twitter for example—you might consider linking the feed directly to your page. If you show customers the useful content you are providing on your social channels, they are more likely to follow you.

Testimonials.

Including positive testimonials about your establishment helps encourage diners to trust your establishment while also creating a sense of place and story. If you have a regular patron who adores your establishment or have hosted a successful special event, tap into those positive customer experiences to help build your reputation and flesh out the content of your website.

Remember: a great website is first and foremost a way to communicate with your current and future customers. Make choices based on clarity and consistency to ensure that your site effectively invites customers to come in for a closer look.

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