In 2019, it was reported that 51 percent of diners ordered directly from the restaurant’s website, and that 90 percent of guests research a restaurant online before visiting. Both of these statistics show us that having a website for your restaurant is more important now than ever before.
As consumers continue to use digital tools to find the best bistro or the coziest cafe, ensuring your restaurant is represented online will be the best way to build a solid reputation. Keep reading to find out how you can create a successful restaurant website of your own.
What You’ll Learn In This Post
- Why Your Restaurant Needs a Website
- Key Features of a Restaurant Website
- How to Create a Restaurant Website
Why Your Restaurant Needs a Website
As the majority of people now have the perfect research tool in their pocket, if a potential customer can’t find records of your restaurant online, they may never make their first visit. This means that it’s essential to have a website in order to attract guests. But that’s not the only reason. Here are three more benefits that come from having a website for your restaurant.
Improve Customer Experience
For some, navigating the digital space is far easier, time efficient, and more accessible than picking up the phone. Allowing users to see your menu, hours, and on-site facilities without having to call or stop by might make the all-important decision of where to eat that much simpler.
Capture More Leads
A website allows for easier advertising and data capture. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertisements are low-cost marketing alternatives that you can only get digitally. Having a website means you can use these tools effectively to reach a wider audience and leave a lasting impression.
Keep Guests Informed
No one day is the same in hospitality, and it’s important to keep your customers informed. You should use your website to let customers know of menu variations, changed opening and closing times, or even special events. Having a centralized place for customers to find important notices will keep them in the loop and help avoid any unknown inconveniences.
Excellent Example of Restaurant Websites
There are several examples of an effective restaurant website that serves its customers well; here are just a few.
Panda Express has a straightforward website that clearly walks you through the ordering process. With an accessible menu and store finder, Panda Express makes it easier than ever to go from its website to their restaurants. Their homepage also invites you to explore more about their food, work in the community, and learn about the Panda Promise.
White Castle’s simplistic website design means customers have less digging to find exactly what they need. It has four tabs that easily identify different features, such as their menu, store locations, and grocery selection, as well as large pictures to draw in users. White Castle also clearly advertises ordering on their webpage or downloading their app for better access.
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory’s website shows off a range of its products, new additions, and important notices on its homepage. The clear and animated landing page gives users a clear journey to seamlessly engage with all the products and features they offer. Much like Panda Express and White Castle, they have an online menu and store finder to assist with pick up, bookings, and delivery options.
Popular Restaurant Website Features
By looking at your competitors’ websites, you can see that some features will be essential to the success and allure your website needs. Here are just a few features that you’ll want to implement in order to stand out in the industry.
Reservation Booking Portal
Ensuring there’s availability at a nearby restaurant is a must, and if in-store phone lines are busy, having a portal for users to book online is critical. Creating a booking feature on your website benefits you and your customers, as you can automate your database to keep tabs on how many free tables you have and maximize your availability.
A restaurant finder is always handy so users can find your service wherever they are. Especially useful for tourists, this feature allows people to use your website to find your nearest location, making that all-important choice of where to eat that much easier. Integrating a map and location services can help potential customers plan when and where they’d like to visit your restaurant.
Adding an online menu is important for multiple reasons. Not only will your users be able to get a taste of what you offer before sitting down at a table, but you’ll also avoid excluding those that have allergenic requirements. With the help of high-quality images, you can even make your restaurant more attractive to customers on the fence.
It’s been reported that up to 70 percent of all web traffic comes from mobile, which is no surprise given that it’s the easiest way to access the Internet. Ensuring your website works well for mobile users is a must; however, the key here is to make sure that your website reacts to the screen size on the device used.
4 Steps to Build a Successful Restaurant Website
Now that you’ve taken a good look at the features that have served other websites well, you can start creating your own restaurant website. As this will involve following a clear plan, here are the four steps to take to ensure that your site will stand out amongst the competition.
Firstly you’ll need to do a bit of brainstorming, and plan out what your website requires. Depending on the type of restaurant you have, you might need to prioritize some features over others. If you’re a fast food establishment focussing on delivery, for example, you might consider implementing delivery tracking or custom orders.
You’ll also want to determine who your target audience is, and who this website will benefit. Given that you’re creating a website for your restaurant, you most likely want it to serve your customers and create a better user experience.
You can add whichever features you feel will benefit the customer experience, but some features, such as a store locator, booking system, and online menu, will be essential for any restaurant website.
Design is especially important to consider early on, and now that you’ve decided on the important features of your website, you can lay out how customers will access them. The main thing to consider is your user experience (UX), as an accessible and straightforward website is key to retaining and engaging users.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; there are plenty of layout design features that are well established among other websites that you can use. For instance, most people know a search bar will be at the top of a web page. You can also make use of grids, lists, and two-column templates for a streamlined user interface (UI) that customers are used to.
You’ll also want to make sure that your design matches any existing branding you currently use. From color schemes to fonts and images, it’s important for customers to know that this website is your product and represents your restaurant.
Related Page: What Are Wireframes in UI/UX Design and Why Are They Important?
Now that you’ve planned your features and designed your layout, it’s time to look at development. Those who have the experience required may begin this straight away; however, if you don’t have the necessary experience, you may want to outsource your development. When outsourcing development, it’s important to consider a few things about an agency before choosing.
Portfolio and Experience
Before hiring a development agency, you should always examine their previous work to confirm that they are the right fit for your project. For example, if they have only created products that are far from what you need, it’s unlikely they can support you. Instead, look for agencies that have clearly demonstrated they’re capable of developing the type of product you need – preferably, high-quality previous projects of a similar nature.
Clearly Defined Development Procedure
If you’re looking to work with an agency, transparency is key, and any reputable agency should be able to outline its development process before commencing work. If an agency doesn’t have its development process detailed, it may be a sign of inexperience. Look for agencies that are upfront about their process, so you know exactly what to expect from them and are more involved as they work.
Any digital product can suffer from bugs and errors, and websites are no different. You’ll want to make sure your product is sustainable and continues to work in the future. Finding a developer that offers an effective post-release support service is crucial to ensuring you have the means for the ongoing maintenance of your website.
Now that you’ve got a completed, functional website, you can publish it online and start promoting it to your customers. By no means is your work done, so if you want your product to thrive, you’ll need to maintain it regularly.
Updates will always be necessary, as you add new features, content, and pages. Keeping your customers up to date on your website will help keep them engaged since they see that any and all new information about your restaurant is uploaded.
You may also need to add updates depending on bugs and errors. Provided you’ve got post-release support from your developer, this shouldn’t be an issue, and you can continue to outsource ongoing technical issues to them for resolution.
How to Market Your Restaurant Website
If you want to reach a bigger audience for your website than your existing customers, you may want to consider additional marketing strategies. Having ads available to draw more users to your website will consequently have an impact on the amount of through-the-door customers you see.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is where you carefully select keywords to work with search engine algorithms. If your website hits the keywords that customers search for, then you are more likely to appear higher in search results. Using keywords, FAQs, and common phrases are all ways in which you can tailor your website to more common searches.
Related Page: 7 Free Keyword Research Tools for SEO in 2022
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is the method of placing ads on websites, social media, and search engines, only paying each time your ad is clicked. Your ads will likely be placed on similar pages to reach customers who are most likely to engage. PPC can be extremely effective, given that you only pay when someone has shown an interest in your product.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing comes in two forms: paid and organic. Organic is when you create free social media posts, gaining followers and likes by regularly uploading updates. Whereas, paid social media consists of sponsoring influencers, running PPC ads, or even boosting your organic posts to reach larger audiences.
Idea Maker’s Experience In Website Development
Idea Maker has an expert team of website developers and designers ready to help with the creation of your restaurant’s website. With a portfolio of consistent quality websites, Idea Maker has the knowledge and experience to support you every step of the way. Schedule a call with us today to learn more about our services.