Your business’s online presence is key to making connections and gathering potential customers. As the majority of diners now visit a restaurant’s website before visiting or ordering a meal, it’s crucial that your restaurant’s site design is thoughtful and easy to navigate while demonstrating a true representation of your brand. Additionally, there are a few fundamental components to consider when building an effective restaurant website.
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The Basics: Clear Contact Info, Map, and Operating Hours
Customers research restaurants in advance of dining for many reasons. High on that list is simply planning their trip. Whether driving or taking public transit, customers need to have accurate information. Maps directing to Google Maps streamline navigation and a linked phone number for mobile devices on the go will help customers reach out easily with questions. Keeping your operating hours up to date and consistent with other listings gives visitors a sense of confidence in your services before they even arrive.
A Polished and Updated Menu
Creating a smart and appetizing menu is an accomplishment, but your customers must be able to properly access and enjoy your food and drink options. It’s far easier to interest diners with a professional-looking, up-to-date menu that matches the rest of your restaurant’s aesthetic. Utilizing SEO best practices for a menu will also help your customers find you and any particular specialties you offer through organic search online. If possible, avoid using clunky PDF files to present your online menu and prioritize a simple, optimized presentation that will look good on all devices. You can easily connect your printed marketing materials to your digital menu with free QR code tools.
Easy Access to Online Ordering
Over the last several years, online ordering has become not just a bonus but a staple option for both customers and restaurants, providing low-contact and simplified dining experiences for everyone’s ease and comfort. Not all establishments are interested in providing take-out options (and this may be a key part of your brand), but for many it serves as a great opportunity to increase sales. Depending on your POS system, you should consider including information to connect website visitors to an online ordering portal or alternatively, to your direct phone line. If you choose not to offer online ordering, it may be helpful to state this clearly to avoid confusing diners.
A Reservation Portal or Information
If you offer reservations, present an easy way for customers to connect with you, either directly or via an external reservation system. Restaurants with small or limited seating options often find this helpful to their service flow. Giving site visitors an awareness of your style and overall experience can also help tune customer expectations.
Consistent and Professional Design and Branding
Websites are often the first thing about a restaurant that a customer experiences, so it’s essential that design and presentation reflect overall aesthetic and branding. Whether you’re a fast-casual cafe, a sports bar, have the best happy hour in downtown Cincinnati or a fine dining establishment, consistency of content makes your business look professional from the very first encounter. This also means site and online menu design should be complementary. Another important factor to keep in mind is that ADA compliance requirements extend to the digital space, so creating an accessible website will keep your business available to a wider group of customers and may help you avoid potentially costly legal issues.
Social Media Links
Connections are king in today’s digital landscape, and featuring additional ways to keep in touch with your community can greatly increase the likelihood of turning one-time customers into repeat diners. Allowing easy access to your channels also shows website visitors that you already have an established clientele. Your social media presence can help alert followers of events, specials, happy hour offerings, updates, and unexpected closures — plus, don’t forget that good-quality photos of food and drinks also promote your menu.
These core website elements can help your restaurant succeed in the digital space by creating better and longer-lasting customer relationships. Consider your unique brand and business model as you’re designing or updating your site, and add custom touches to convey your specific style and message. Dining trends may change over time, but restaurant customers will continue to appreciate thoughtful site design and appealing menu presentation.