Building an effective website for your restaurant
Read time: 4 mins
Tech level: low
Key point: website design for the restaurant sector requires components that differ from other industries
The restaurant sector is a cut-throat industry. Restaurants come and go, often within the space of a few months.
A restaurant website is often the first point of contact with a potential new customer. It is essential that restaurants showcase their offering by powerfully communicating the benefits of their food, service, and ambience.
There are several key elements that must be integrated to ensure your website strategically positions your hotel within its target market segment.
Cleverly crafted, benefit-driven content on a mobile-friendly website is the key to building your business.
Tip 1: Start with well-researched personas
Personas should be developed at the beginning of the web project to minimise weaknesses, expand on strengths, and maximise overall functionality.
Once a restaurant has identified its personas it can build a web presence that powerfully engages its target audiences. Personas will help you understand who your ideal customers are and what they want.
Personas should be based on both qualitative and quantitative research in conjunction with data derived from web analytics. They are always based on observed behaviours of real users, so research is essential.
Personas will guide the content, feature set and design decisions of each page. This will work to optimise the user experience as they navigate through the content.
Tip 2: Mobile friendly
The growth in mobile users and restaurant apps dictates that restaurant websites must be built in consideration of this market segment. There are several elements that must be integrated:
- responsive design: web developers can create a website that can be easily viewed on multiple devices. Responsive design allows websites to detect users screen size and adjust the layout for the appropriate orientation.
- viewport meta tag: turns a regular web page into a responsive design page. It gives the browser instructions on how to view the page and how the content is scaled and sized. The viewpoint can be configured to suit multiple specifications.
- high-resolution photos: images on a responsive website need to be high res to ensure the user experience is of a high standard. High res photos help to minimise issues related to pixelation.
- test often: once a responsive design website has been built it will need to be tested on multiple devices to ensure usability.
Tip 3: Including your menus is non-negotiable
Potential customers will visit a restaurant website specifically to view the menu.
It is essential to keep the menu up to date. Your menu should have its own page on the website and will need to be updated whenever there are any changes.
Stay away from PDFs, as they are difficult for mobile users to access. Downloading a PDF chews up valuable megabytes and can be difficult to edit when there is a change to the menu.
Quality photos of signature dishes will work to powerfully communicate the benefits of your offering. Spend the money on a professional photographer who has food industry experience.
Remember to include all of the menus on the website, a la carte, desserts, and drinks, in addition to any other specialty menus. A good example is an oyster menu if you are a seafood restaurant.
Tip 4: Showcase your staff on a team page
The celebrity chef phenomenon has revolutionised the restaurant industry.
The proliferation of cooking programs has changed the way people relate to food and the people who cook it. Customers now perceive the people behind the scenes in the kitchen as social and cultural influencers.
It's a good idea to include stand-out chefs, sommeliers, and even suppliers if they contribute a point of difference to your offering, as well as any up and coming stars of the future.
Include the positions they have held, credentials, accreditation, any media they have achieved, and anything else that reflects their experience and expertise.
Tip 5: Friendly editor interface for regular content updates
Key facets of an effective website will include a user-friendly editor interface coupled with features that alert editors when content needs to be updated.
A website might be technically savvy but if it's not easy for your team to update and edit then all of those snappy features can't be maximised to their full potential.
Updating the content on a regular basis will keep your customers engaged and Google rankings on the rise. Make sure you do your research and include keywords in the description that your target audiences use.
The website should allow editors easy access to the digital assets, making content management streamlined and efficient.
Tip 6: TripAdvisor is your friend, so don't ignore it
TripAdvisor is often the first place that potential customers visit when they are looking for a restaurant in their area. It is viewed as a trusted resource by consumers - so if you're not on TripAdvisor you need to be.
It's easy to create your own TripAdvisor profile. Great photos are essential, so spend the money on engaging a professional photographer who is experienced with food.
Once you have created a killer TripAdvisor page it is essential to stay engaged in order to create a friendly online persona. It's important to respond to reviews, both positive and negative.
Always thank customers for positive reviews, and address any negative reviews with diplomacy and an eye to improving the customer experience.
Tip 7: Create conversations with your target audiences with social media
Social media is a powerful way to engage target audiences and should be present on a restaurant website. In order to maximise the opportunities that social media presents, there are a number of elements that need to be considered:
- limit the number of channels. This will make monitoring more manageable. Most restaurants have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. YouTube is also an important consideration as it is a highly shareable form and mobile user-friendly.
- social media management tools. Consider using a social media tool to manage your social media schedule. Options include Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social.
- share customer-generated content. Turn social media followers into brand ambassadors by sharing their comments and photos.
- build your online community with special offers and promotions. This kind content is easily shared and will work to build your online community.
- monitor posts and be sure to respond in a timely way to any questions, compliments or complaints.
Tip 8: Reservations page with clear location and contact information
A reservations page is essential in order to maximise your online presence. There are several elements that should be integrated to improve the customer experience.
- online reservation facility. Providing this facility will help build business by streamlining the customer experience because of the convenience it offers.
- open and closing times. This will allow customers to plan ahead so they can organise their day or night out.
- contact details. Provide phone numbers and an email address for any questions or concerns.
- reservation policies. Many restaurants offer several sittings in an evening. Providing details will assist customers to make the most of their time. Outline if there is a BYO facility and wheelchair access.
- location information: Provide a location finder and a Google Map reference along with images of the restaurant, all of which will make it easier for customers to find you.
Experts in building websites for the restaurant sector
Contact Polished Pixels for assistance if you are planning a web project and want help.
We are a leading Sydney based website agency providing expert website design.
All of our team members understand the frustrations that come with not being able to improve a website.
We can help with all aspects of website design for restaurants. We have worked with several leading companies in the hospitality sector; including Lachlan's Restaurant, Executive Hotel and Executive Conference Centres.
Services include enterprise class CMS implementation, web design, website content strategy, usability and customer-centric design.
The result is a strong and secure web presence created with significant savings on company time and budgetary resources.