These days, not having a restaurant website is like not having a sign on your building. Without this crucial part of your online presence, you are essentially invisible to countless potential customers. Whether you are looking to build a brand new restaurant website from scratch or want to update your existing one, there are a few key elements that are must-haves for engaging online visitors and turning them into guests.
How to Create the Best Restaurant Website Design
1. Look for Restaurant Website Inspiration
Whether you’re going to be designing your restaurant website yourself using a service like Squarespace or you’re hiring a designer, you should look at other restaurant websites first for inspiration. Even if you have an idea of the look and feel you are going for, you might find small details or features that could be useful for your own restaurant website design.
Guests today are more brand-savvy than ever, especially the Millennial and Gen Z market, so one key to earning their trust and confidence in your business is to have strong, consistent branding. This includes your brand color palette, logo, tagline (if any), fonts used, and your brand voice. These things should be consistent throughout your restaurant website as well as on social media accounts, in print advertising, and in-house with things like signage, your menu, and decor.
2. Gather Information and Write Copy
Before you start building out the framework for your restaurant website, you need to create some content. Writing, editing, and refining your copy first makes it much easier for you or your web designer to build pages and create layouts.
What Information Should be on a Restaurant Website?
The goal with a restaurant website is to try and answer as many questions as possible and make the decision process easier for potential customers. Here are some absolute must-haves for any restaurant website to be successful.
- Hours: When are you open? Are takeout hours different from delivery or dine-in? If you are closed on a day you are normally open, make that abundantly clear with a banner or pop-up notification on your homepage so everyone visiting the site sees the message.
- Contact info: Physical address, email address, phone number, and any other methods you want customers to use to get in touch with you.
- Full menu with prices: People want to see what you have and how much it will cost them so make it easy to read and update regularly.
- Online ordering: Even if people aren’t intending to order from you while browsing your website, something may catch their eye and sway them. Make sure your online ordering button is “sticky,” meaning it shows up on every page.
- Reservation information: Like your online ordering, you want to make sure that reservation information is easy to find and the directions for making a reservation are clear, whether you take reservations online, by phone, or via email.
- Links to your social media accounts: Where can guests find even more information about your restaurant and interact with you? Include links to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, Google, and other social media accounts for easy access.
- Email sign-ups: If you send out regular marketing emails (and you should!) make sure you have an easy-to-find space for guests to add themselves to your list.
3. Take High-Quality Photos
“Imagine ordering from Amazon with no pictures,” says Kenn Pluard, owner of Kenji’s Ramen & Grill in Vancouver, Washington, who saw a 10% increase in sales after implementing online ordering. “Having the actual photo will speak wonders and give the customer an idea of the food quality.” Pluard notes that even showcasing canned beverages, with the logos visible and recognizable, can help drive sales.
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For the best results, hiring a professional is the way to go. However, due to cost, frequent menu changes, and other factors, this might not always be an option. In that case, follow the steps below for taking your own high-quality restaurant website photos. If you follow these tips you’ll be able to get great photos, even with your smartphone camera!
- Focus on lighting: For best results, take your photos with indirect natural lighting. This means you’ll want to take most of your food photos near an open window during afternoon hours. If that’s not possible, then an umbrella or ring light is your next best option.
- Compose the shot: Give guests a glimpse of what they can expect when dining at your restaurant. Set the scene with utensils, a glass of wine, or even use models to show people enjoying the food.
- Make dishes look appetizing: It may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you’re producing interesting images. At I Heart Mac and Cheese, images are composed to make food look its most appetizing. “We take the images that really show what’s in the item,” says CEO and chairman Stephen Giordanella. “For example, instead of showing a grilled cheese, we open up the grilled cheese, show some of what’s inside falling out, and get shots of cheese being poured on top of it. Showing the image as a final product is beautiful, but showing the image as it’s being created is both creative and more interesting to see.”
4. Make It Mobile-friendly
Any good web designer will know this, and DIY services will most likely automate your design to be mobile-friendly, but it doesn’t hurt to double check. Mobile counts for about half of all web traffic in the world, so if your restaurant website isn’t mobile-friendly visitors will click away and find a different restaurant with more easily accessible information.
5. Promote, Promote, Promote
Don’t just hit “Publish” and wait for people to find your restaurant website! Promote it on Facebook and other social media websites, to your email list, on your menu, in print ads… anywhere you can include the link or URL to your site, do it!
You can also try your hand at optimizing your website for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which will help your website rank higher on search engines like Google. Learn more about SEO optimization here: How to Drive More Customers to Your Restaurant’s Online Ordering Page.
The Benefits of Building a Restaurant Website
Google is the Go-To
Google is usually the first place a potential customer will turn to when looking for a place to eat or a venue for a special occasion. Without a website, potential diners will have a harder time finding your restaurant in Google searches.
Speak Directly to Your Customers
At this point, you might be thinking: “But I have a presence on Yelp and a bunch of Google Reviews, why do I need a website?” The key difference between databases like Yelp and your own personal website is that a website allows you to speak directly to your customers. Instead of relying solely on customer feedback (which is important for other reasons), a website allows you to present yourself, your brand, and your food to potential diners, rather than letting that all be filtered through the experiences of others.
You Control Your Brand
Having a website and being able to speak directly to your customers allows you to control your brand. There is a limit to how much you can personalize a profile on a site like Yelp, but having a website allows you to create a digital extension of the dining experience customers can expect. Not only does this allow you to better reach your target customer, but it also gives you full control over what kind of photos and content will represent your restaurant to the world. Having a website ensures that your online presence and unique brand are always kept up-to-date since you’re the one in control.
Best Restaurant Website Design Examples
La Moule – Portland, OR
Casa Mia – Lewisville, TX
Rose Foods – Portland, ME
Holler – Portland, OR
5 Napkin Burger – Multiple Locations in New York City
Bywater – Warren, RI
Snooze Eatery – Multiple Locations Across the US
Earl’s – Multiple Locations Across Canada and the US
Sticky’s – Multiple Locations in New York City
Yip – Miami, FL