As a restaurant owner, you’ve put some serious thought into your interior design, menu development and ambience creation to make your guests feel comfortable and attract more people to visit. But have you thought about your website design?
Your restaurant website needs to help your guests find you online, inform them about your menu and, possibly, help them reserve a table or order a delivery directly from you.
Plus, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to address the safety measures your restaurant is taking.
We’ve put together seven key tips to help you design an engaging website for your restaurant:
- Keep the COVID-19 updates visible
- Align your web design with your style
- Tell your story in a unique way
- Represent the whole menu
- Implement an online reservation system
- Make your contact information visible
- Optimize your website for local search
Let's take a closer look at each of these tips to help you build and improve your restaurant website and make it more usable, attractive and engaging.
Keep the COVID-19 Updates Visible
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when health measures and country-specific government orders are changing rapidly, the most important element of your restaurant website is to have updated information about the safety measures you have in place.
You can add a pop-up info box on your home page or integrate a notification bar in your website header or footer to keep it visible on all pages.
To let your guests know what to expect during their visit, you can add the following information, depending on the measures your business is taking:
- Face masks required for staff in public areas
- Hand sanitizer available to guests and staff
- Tables disinfected between guests
- Tables rearranged to ensure a distance of six feet
- Single-use or sanitized menus
- Contactless ordering and payment available
- Takeaway and home delivery available
Be sure to also keep your working hours updated to let customers know when you’re open for business. Keep your guests informed at all times and reassure them that it’s safe to visit your restaurant.
Align Your Web Design with Your Style
To make the right impact, consider using the same colors and fonts on your website that your logo and visual brand identity contain. Align the overall website design with your restaurant concept and the type of food you serve, as well as with the atmosphere in your restaurant.
This will help you:
- Make your website easily recognizable
- Express your values in a meaningful way
- Position your restaurant in the market
This consistency will also help you integrate a web design process with your business strategy, build trust and long-term relationships with your guests, and enable your regular customers to easily recommend your restaurant and point future customers to your website.
Tell Your Story in a Unique Way
Use an “About Us” page to describe your concept, idea and vision. This could also be the right place to tell your personal story of your career as a restaurateur and list short biographies of your team members.
Make your business story authentically yours. Tell it in a unique way, create an original narrative, express your team spirit, explain your brand origin and start important conversations about your local community.
Implement your business story in the website content and take your potential customers on a journey by conveying a clear and engaging message and helping them relate to your brand, style and concept.
Use Impressive Images to Showcase Your Menu
Eye-catching, high-quality, original photographs of your dishes will help you expand your online storytelling into visuals and represent your menu in an authentic way.
Even though there photos available for free on websites with stock images, keep away from them because you’ll risk having the same photographs as your competitors. Instead, organize professional photoshoots inside your restaurant to create your own unique images. While, this is costly, it is important to make sure your website photos are high quality. Use your phone photos for social media updates.
In addition to meals, you can also represent your wine list, cocktail menu, desserts and other specialties that you offer. This will help you show your entire menu online and impress your visitors right from the start.
To go a step further, add attractive interior and exterior photographs, videos and even a 360-degree view from inside your restaurant to help your guests feel the ambiance and make it even easier for them to choose your restaurant over others.
Implement an Online Reservation System
You don’t have to run one of the world’s best restaurants to know how important it is to have an online reservation system integrated with your website, particularly during the pandemic when seating percentages come into play.
The simpler the system, the better. You can integrate a third-party application or ask web designers to create a custom system that suits your needs.
To encourage your website visitors to make a reservation, ensure that the “Reserve” button is distinctive, and it clearly indicates what users can expect.
As a survey from the Restaurant Magazine showed, around 80-85 percent of reservations come through a website and 47 percent of them originate from a mobile phone. Due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, this number has even increased.
Make Your Contact Information Instantly Visible
Having your contact information visible at first glance is of the utmost importance for a restaurant website. This primarily includes your phone number, address, email address and hours of operation. Best practices call for placing this information in the website header next to the navigation menu or in the footer.
Additionally, you can use the “Contact” page to gather all of the information in one place and show your location on a map, along with an explanation how to find your restaurant.
If you run several restaurants in different locations, this page is also a good place to tell visitors about those as well.
Optimize Your Website for Local Search
There are more than 63.5 million searches on Google for a variation of the phrase “restaurants near me” every month.
Clearly, you’d want your restaurant to be among the first results for your local audience in such case. That means only one thing – you need to take care of local SEO and optimize your web pages for a higher ranking in search engine results.
To do this, you can start by submitting your restaurant to Google My Business and creating a full profile on that platform. This will open a possibility for authentic guest reviews and increase the chances for Google to rank your site higher.
Remember that your online presence includes not only your website, but also ratings and guest reviews on third-party platforms. Statistics show that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust friends.
Having a complete profile and a lot of reviews could also trigger Google to rank you through a so-called Local Pack – three selected search results which are most likely to answer the search keywords in the local search.
The Bottom Line
To engage visitors, your restaurant website needs to be functional, informative, mobile-friendly and easy-to-navigate.
Don’t forget to put the COVID-19 updates, as well as your phone number, address and email up front to help your prospective diners get in touch easily and feel safe to visit.
Also, be sure to showcase the whole menu, be transparent with prices and upload original photographs to inform your guests before they've even stepped foot into your restaurant.