In the old days, having a clean restaurant with good customer service and great food was enough to build a sustainable business along with attracting a steady supply of newcomers eager to try out your restaurant. Nowadays, it’s a lot more complicated.
Before anyone even steps in your restaurant, they Google it’s name first to find any relevant Yelp reviews, examine your social media profiles, and search for a link to your restaurant’s website.
Because people want to see your menu beforehand to see if it meshes well with their tastes, to see pictures of your food to examine your presentation, as well as just getting a better sense of your restaurant in general to determine if it’s a good fit for what they’re looking for.
For example, if you’re looking for a nice sit-down restaurant to take your significant other for a special date, then you’re going to want the restaurant’s site to have plenty of pictures of people sitting down at a nice candlelight meal as well as having your site exude an atmosphere of class.
Check out the below example of the website of Cafe Intermezzo to get a better idea of what we’re talking about.
On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a nice burger place to take a friend that’s in town for the afternoon, then you’re going to be more lax about the use of bright colors along with any interesting content that exudes an easy-going atmosphere.
This example from Grindhouse Burgers does a great job detailing the type of website we’re talking about.
Whichever type of customer you’re trying to attract, you’ll need a website for your restaurant so that you have an avenue for sharing your menu, pictures of your food & space, as well as any information regarding your restaurant’s atmosphere & mood.
Now, it’s understandable that creating a website can be an intimidating endeavor for restaurant owners. After all, you got into the restaurant industry because you love serving quality food and providing great customer service, not because you love designing websites.
That’s why I’ve written this piece to walk you through everything you need to know about restaurant website design so you can be well on your way to designing your own top-notch site that will impress visitors & have them excited to visit your place of business.
1. Understand your Site’s Visitors
Before you work on anything, you have to take the time to thoroughly understand who will be visiting your site along with their intentions. For restaurants, your visitors will typically fall into two categories, new customers that are visiting your site for the first time and know nothing about your restaurant, and returning customers.
New customers: These are the people that are in the mood to try something new and are looking for a place that will grab their interest. They’ll be comparing you to other restaurants as well as examining your menu and atmosphere to see if it matches their interests and needs.
That said, it’s important to note that many of these customers (and most people in general) will be accessing your site on their mobile devices. That’s because people typically look up restaurants when they’re out and about and start to get hungry. Which is why it’s so crucial that you optimize your site for mobile, I’ll be touching on this topic with more detail further on in this post.
Returning customers: On the other hand, you can’t forget about your loyal regulars that are fans of your brand. When they visit your site, they’re most likely looking for your menu, addresses for your locations, hours of operation, contact info, etc. So you need to ensure that your important information is easily accessible with clear headers that show where everything is.
2. Be SEO Friendly
Now that you have a better understanding of your site’s visitors, it’s time that you gain a basic understanding of how SEO affects how accessible your site is for people.
For example, say you own an Italian Restaurant in downtown San Diego. Whenever anyone is in the area and Googles “Italian Restaurant near me” don’t you want your restaurant to be the first result that pops up?
Of course you do.
In fact, about 43% of all Google searches are for local search results, so you’re going to want to make sure you’re in location-based SEO results.
Here are some of the best SEO tips for your restaurant’s website:
- No weird Domain Names
Think of your Domain Name as a virtual storefront for your restaurant’s website, it’s the first word that people see when clicking on your site and is also the first thing about your site that Google tries to understand when deciding on where to rank your site. So it’s important that your domain name is optimized to the fullest as not to hurt your chances of ranking.
As a rule of thumb, your restaurant’s domain shouldn’t include any special characters like hashtags, money signs, emojis, etc. It should be as clear cut and straight to the point as possible (save the creativity for the actual website design). For example, if you’re the owner of Benny’s Buffalo Wings, then you want your domain to be a direct variation of the name like Bennysbuffalowings.com, bennyswings.com, bennys.com, etc. Also if the domain name for your restaurant is taken, then try using different variations like I did with the above names, as well as adding the abbreviation for the location at the end. So if Benny’s Buffalo Wings were in LA, then the name could be Bennyswingsla.com.
- Use full search phrases on your web pages
Another strategy to boost the ranking of your website is to place full phrases that your customers are searching for on different pages of your website so that your webpage is more likely to pop up whenever they search these phrases.
For example, if you were building the website for Benny’s Buffalo Wings, you would want phrases like “buffalo wings in LA” and “best buffalo wings” to be placed strategically throughout the written text of your site so that whenever someone googles “buffalo wings in LA” or “best buffalo wings” Google knows that your site should be in the results because you have matching text.
- Create relevant titles for all of your pages
Another good chance you have for ranking for certain keywords is by using page titles that help show Google that you’re a restaurant. For example, you’ll notice that most restaurant websites have pages titled “Menu”, “Locations”, “Contact”, “Hours of Operation”, “Catering”, etc.
That’s because these pages are very common topics of interest for those that visit these sites, as well as making it very clear to Google that your website is a relevant search result for people searching for restaurants. That’s why you should make sure to have specific titles for each of your pages that correlate with page titles that are typically found in the restaurant industry.
- Use Internal Links to its Full Potential
Your website’s mission is to get people interested in your restaurant by providing as much relevant information as possible, problem is, there may be times where people visit your site and leave without ever seeing your menu or other important pages. That’s where internal links come in handy.
Internal links are hyperlinks located in your website’s text that visitors can click to be directed to another page on your site. If you own a seafood restaurant, then you can have a link to your menu as you’re explaining your restaurant’s mission to deliver quality products on your homepage, and with the constantly dropping attention spans of the average adult, you’re going to want to make it as convenient as possible for people to navigate your site. Internal links are also great for boosting your SEO rankings, just make sure that you’re using them sparingly or else Google will know that you’re just trying to plug in as many as you can.
- Constantly do Maintenance
In order to ensure that your search rankings and website’s content will always be up to par, it’s important that you’re regularly taking the time out to examine which areas on your site need some tightening up. Whether that’s making sure that new menu items get added to your webpage, updating new locations, or even just checking for typos. It’s also important because updating your site lets Google know that you’re still active which will help rank you above sites that aren’t as active
3. Mobile Optimization
No matter how amazing the content on your site is, you’ll need to optimize it for mobile if you want to attract new visitors and make it easy for your regulars to find what they’re looking for. Also, don’t feel intimidated by the term “mobile optimization”, it’s just a fancy term for making your site look nice on mobile devices.
The first tip for mobile optimization is to choose a design that is adaptable and works nicely on a variety of devices. There’s an endless variety of tablets and smartphones out there with all types of different screen sizes, so you want your layout to work seamlessly with each of them.
To ensure that your website looks nice on a lot of different devices, make sure that you’re visiting your site on a desktop, smartphone (Android & iPhone), and a tablet device so you can be comfortable knowing that your restaurant’s site always looks nice and pretty!
4. Have Plenty of Pictures
Let’s be honest, when you’re visiting a restaurant’s site, you want an avenue to quickly look at pictures of all of the menu items. Which is why your site needs to have plenty of high-quality pictures of your dishes, and don’t feel like you have to confine them to your menu page either, feel free to sprinkle them wherever they fit (just make sure not to cause any jumbled designs because of it). You should also consider having a gallery page dedicated to showcasing your food as well as your restaurant space.
The example below from Desta Ethiopian Kitchen showcases how a restaurant can use images of their food as part of their background, as well as including a gallery page.
5. Be clear about the type of Restaurant you are
Don’t assume that everyone will be visiting your “about us” page, in fact, most of your visitors won’t. You need to clearly label the type of restaurant you are and the type of food you serve in big letters where everyone can see, so your visitors are instantly aware if your restaurant is a good fit or not.
This example from NaanStop does a great job of immediately showing their customers that they’re an Indian restaurant.
6. Strengthen your Menu’s Usability
We’ve all encountered trying to look at a restaurant’s menu, only to be met by a window asking us to download a PDF image of the menu instead. This will irritate visitors and will have them flocking to the next restaurant before you know it. That’s why you need to ensure that your menu is able to be easily read and accessed by clicking on the “menu” tab.
Guidelines for Menus
Don’t upload your menu as an image. It will make it harder for mobile users as they have to drag and pinch the image to get a better view. It will also hurt your SEO rankings because the terms in the image won’t be readable by Google. That’s why you should always re-type your entire menu into the website so that the text can be read, as well as easily being scaled, resized, and moved.
Don’t make your visitors constantly have to click to get to different menu items. People shouldn’t have to click a link to see your entrees then have to click another link to see your appetizers. This is annoying and will cause people to lose interest and leave. It will also make it harder for people on mobile devices as they have to deal with longer load times and constant clicking.
The below example from Bambinelli’s pizza gives a great example of how a menu should be displayed on a website.
Linking social media profiles will help give your website a certain amount of social validation that visitors look for when visiting a business’s site. Just make sure that your social media pages all adhere to your brand and have the same level of quality as your website.
8. Clearly Display your Hours and Location
Lastly, we can’t have a piece on restaurant design without touching on the Hours of Operation and Locations. Whether they’re a new visitor or a regular, people are always going to check when you close as well as where you’re located.
Imagine this, it’s getting late and you just got done trying out a new hiking spot with some friends. You’re all hungry and you recommend one of your regular spots. The only issue is, you’re not sure if they’ll be open by the time you get there, as well as not knowing the directions from your location. So you quickly look up the site for the restaurant to find the hours of operation, as well as the directions on how to get there. Situations like these are all too common and are a perfect example of why you need to make your hours of operation and locations pages easily accessible.
Your restaurant’s website will often be the first experience that people have with your brand, so it’s important that you do it right and don’t cut any corners when it comes to your design. Just make sure to include any and all relevant information so that your visitors are able to find everything they’re looking for.
Aside from having a great website, your restaurant will also need a great team of employees that will serve your brand’s mission of providing great customer service to everyone that walks through your doors. The only way they can do this is if you provide a platform for them to easily receive and swap shifts as well as communicate with you whenever they have any issues. That’s why you should click on the button below to speak with a representative that can explain how Deputy can help take your business to the next level.