Website Development for Restaurant Industry

Here is list of 4 features every restaurant website design must-have to enable conversions from online visitors to dining customers:

  • Mobile Friendly Design
  • Accurate Information
  • Testimonials and Social Proof
  • Email Re-targeting

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Does a Restaurant need a Website?

Yes, absolutely.

Almost half of the restaurants out there do not have a website or their website is outdated. Some have made their social media pages their primary online presence. Yet, others have made their presence on 3rd-party platforms (microsites) as their primary online presence. That is a huge mistake. Because the business does not own its online presence. This would hurt the business sooner or later.

The Restaurant Website should be the Primary Online Presence for the Business

It is important for the restaurant to be available online. When people search the business name or the food, the restaurant website needs to show up on search results. Once visitors land on the restaurant website, whether they stay or leave depends on if they are getting value from the website and if their experience on the website is a good one. Above all else, the website should provide the information customers are looking for plus encourage them to engage online and ultimately visit the restaurant. An outdated website or under construction websites offer no value to the restaurant or its customers.

Restaurant Website Design

The goals of the restaurant website can be many. But, if the primary goal of the restaurant website is “conversion”, which is to drive new business to the restaurant, the website design needs to optimize for that primary goal.

Here is list of 5 features every restaurant website design must-have to enable conversions from online visitors to dining customers:

1. Mobile-Friendly Design

A big majority of people are now accessing the restaurant website from a mobile device. With the smartphones already ubiquitous, people on-the-go tend to search for restaurants either on the mobile browser or mapping app such as google maps etc. that directly link to the restaurant website. The biggest challenge is the limited screen size when accessing the restaurant website on mobile devices. We need to spare the website visitor from having to pinch and zoom to read and comprehend the information and navigate to site. If the restaurant has a website already, before jumping into migrating into mobile-responsive design, first look the online visitors data to verify that the restaurant website is in fact getting a significant amount of traffic from mobile users to justify the investment in design. This data is easily available from various analytics tools with google analytics being the most popular one and free to use.

2. Accurate Information

The restaurant website should be the single source of “accurate” online information about the restaurant. Potential customers looking for information about your business land on various online platforms (microsites), mobile apps or local directories such as the Yellow pages, Yelp, Foursquare, Google+, Zomato, Grubhub, Groupon, etc. You can manage the information on these sites and keep it up-to-date, but there are a lot of them. The good news is they get much of their information from the restaurant website initially. The bad news is they are not kept up to date over time. Well, it becomes much more important why the restaurant website has to have accurate information at all times. Below is an example of a restaurant website, where the hours listed on Restaurant website, Google and Yelp are not the same. This creates confusion for online visitors trying to decide on the visit times and potential dissatisfaction if they visit close to the restaurant closing times.

3. Usability

The built in features of mobile devices like camera, GPS tracker, microphone and more assists e-commerce apps for keeping a record of all the customer actions. The top most integrated Smartphone features helps customers as well as e-commerce business owners for better communication and branding need. A well built iPhone app development solution will take your website to a great level and will increase customer engagements with different mobile devices. If you are really aiming to make your website rock among all the available competitors, it is really a huge need to develop an app based on your business functionalities.

4. Testimonials and Social Proof

After potential customers have found the factual information (such as address, hours and menu, etc) about the business on the restaurant website, they now are looking for social proof to make a decision whether to dine or order food from the restaurant. The restaurant website should provide “proof” to help potential customers make the decision. “Who else is visiting this website”, “who are dining at this restaurant” and “what are they saying about this restaurant” are some of the questions guests tend to naturally ask. It is important for the restaurant website to provide integration of reviews, ratings and testimonials from review sites and social media platforms. Easy integration to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, provide a quick way for guests to visit the restaurant pages on these platforms and like and share with their friends. Social proof can be provided on the restaurant website by publishing the number of likes, follows and reviews. The restaurant website needs to show the good reviews from sites like Yelp or Foursquare to provide the visitor a good first impression. Include things visitors will share on social media.

5. Email Re-targeting

Ideally, we want the first-time visitor to the restaurant website to continue to engage with the restaurant digitally, so that the restaurant is on top of their mind when it comes to dining choices. Connecting with your website visitors is a very effective way to engage with them and potentially turn them to customers. Social media and email are good online mediums to start and have an ongoing connection with your guests. The email list is one of the most important online assets the restaurant must grow and nurture. Every restaurant website must provide ways to subscribe to the restaurant email list. Email signup forms should be placed in multiple, relevant locations such as the specials page (signup for our email list to receive special offers), contact us form (stay informed on updates), and popups on the website.

Additional Features

In addition to the above 5 things every restaurant website must have, the other features a restaurant should have depends on the restaurant concept and their offerings. Some of the additional features to consider adding to the website are:

  • Photo gallery – Photos are visually engaging. The restaurant website should have a photo gallery that is regularly updated with photos of the restaurant, food and events.
  • Location based personalization – selecting the nearest restaurant location based on the user’s current location. This is relevant for multi-unit restaurants.
  • Online ordering– for customers ordering food online and either pickup of having it delivered to their home or other locations.
  • Web analytics – capture and analyze website data to be able to analyze traffic, unique users and other web data to make data-supported decisions on the website itself and business decisions.
  • Search engine optimization – optimize the website so that when people search for food or food related topics, the restaurant website shows on the first page results.
  • Content marketing – creating various forms of content such as articles, recipes, photos, videos to create interest among visitors and engage with them.

Frequently Asked Question

Every business needs a primary online presence in addition to its physical presence for its customers to find it online to get information and buy its product and services. The restaurant website is its primary online presence. Every restaurant must have a website representing its business.

A good restaurant website should be well designed, represent the business brand and is fully functional to support the customers.

Many restaurants have amazing website designs. What makes the website design great is branding, beautiful design and with fully functional features that serves the restaurant customers.

With website design, you truly get what you pay for. Cheap website builders starting at $19 per month, for example, are low cost templated designs with limited SEO functionality. If you value your business and brand, it is best to design a website that represents its originality and not built from a template.

A functional design of your restaurant website includes all the functioning elements of your website. It is more that pretty design with images and videos. It includes mobile-responsiveness, progressive web app (PWA), online ordering, online reservations, email marketing, social media marketing, mobile marketing, SEO, local optimization to just name some functional features.

As often as necessary to keep the information accurate for your online visitors. Do not let your website go stale with no updates for long time. Add new pictures. You website should be functional, which means it serves your customers.

To determine a budget for your restaurant website redesign project, start with your restaurant’s business goals. What do you want your restaurant website to do for your business? The website redesign project should align with your business goals and a budget allocated accordingly.

Yes, you need a restaurant website as it is the primary online presence. The restaurant facebook page is on another platform that you do not control. Scary but true, it is possible to loose your facebook page with changing facebook policies and algorithms. If that happens, you are left with little recourse.

3rd-party websites are called Microsites. They are a huge nuisance for restaurants and affect the business. Every restaurant should make an attempt to get rid of them from 3rd party platforms.

We recommend building your restaurant website on a .NET platform with a restaurant optimized theme. Stay away from cheap website builders. Build your restaurant website to represent your brand and one that is fully functional, which means the website is actually supporting your business goals.