Restaurant websites are essential to the modern, successful restaurant business - just think about how often you, as a customer, reach for Google as your first source of research when making dining decisions. An excellent website with mouthwatering images of your dishes and charming photos of restaurant interiors can be a tremendous asset to restaurant management.
On the other hand, if your restaurant’s website is not up to snuff, it can harm your potential for new business. Nowadays, there are so many web development software programs that make it easy and inexpensive to design and manage an interactive website. But what are the key, essential elements to include on your restaurant’s website? In this article, we explore 10 of the best restaurant website essentials you should have in 2022.
First things first: all restaurant websites should have mobile viewing capabilities. Today, our phones are always with us, which means that a large majority of people conduct their restaurant due diligence on their phones. In fact, mobile websites account for 61% of visits to all US websites. As such, your restaurant’s webpage should be easily viewable on a device. The pages should be easily accessible, pictures should look the same and design elements should be scaled to fit the size of a screen. Most web development software or websites have an option to make your site mobile friendly. Restaurant owners should work with their web developers or programs to ensure that this feature is available for the restaurant’s site. That may be through a contracted web development team, or through out-of-the-box website vendors like Squarespace and Wix. These larger website template vendors allow you to customize your site to match your brand, along with your restaurant’s look and feel. Their templates are all responsive in design - meaning whether they are viewed on a desktop or on mobile, the user experience is always excellent and your site will look beautiful.
Nine times out of ten, customers are viewing a restaurant’s webpage to get information about one of two things: restaurant logistics or the menu. When it comes to logistics, it’s imperative to include the days of the week and the hours that your restaurant is open, the type of payment you accept (e.g. are you cash only?), parking instructions and even directions from the nearest interstate. It’s also key that you set up Google My Business, so folks searching for this information can see it immediately on Google when looking for your restaurant. By including this critical information, it signals to your customers that your restaurant’s website is informative and up-to-date. Finally, Yelp is also a key component of promoting your website’s logistics. They dominate search results when users are looking for a restaurant so, like Google My Business, it’s important to make sure your restaurant’s information is correct on this heavily trafficked platform.
As mentioned above, it’s critical that your restaurant’s website includes the latest version of the menu. When making a decision about where to eat, what you can order to eat is likely the most important.. Include not only your food menu items but your drinks on the menu page as well, and be sure to share the prices as this is a critical decision factor for most restaurant patrons. By including your menu on your restaurant’s website, you’ll be able to keep frequent visitors updated on the latest options in addition to crafting the story of your menu exactly the way you want to tell it. Don’t forget to include your menu information when updating the Google My Business info - it can help when users are searching for specific dishes and other items that may be on your menu.
Bring your website and the delicious food from your restaurant to life by including pictures. Customers will appreciate seeing shots of your restaurant’s dining area, especially if it has an #Instagrammable aesthetic, as well as appetizing shots of your top menu items. Small and medium businesses of all stripes invest in great shots of their products, so make sure that you're investing in mouthwatering food photography as well. Often, potential customers make decisions based on what “looks the best,” so be sure to capitalize on this opportunity by keeping your restaurant’s website and social feeds up-to-date with fresh looking images. Don’t limit your best shots to your website. Share them with the world - specifically, on social, where you can keep your customers updated on the latest menu changes, on Google My Business, where a huge chunk of potential customers will find you, and on Yelp where a huge community is searching within the site for restaurant recommendations.
Including a page on your website about your restaurant’s mission, background or founding history is an easy way to take your site from good to great. In addition to getting information about your restaurant’s hours and menu items, they can also get a better understanding of your restaurant’s personality and what makes your business unique. Use it as an opportunity to tell customers your personal story - how you came up with the name of your restaurant, your personal history or biography of restaurant ownership. If you’re a franchisee, why did you open in your city? Or if you’re a multi-unit group in many states, explain why you started in your first location and what led to the growth. Ultimately, you want to tell them why they should spend their hard earned dollars at your restaurant.
Newsletter subscription option
More and more restaurants are launching weekly and monthly email newsletters as a way to increase customer engagement and loyalty. Your restaurant’s website is a great way to drive more traffic to your email newsletter by including a simple email box or pop up somewhere on the homepage. Interested parties can simply enter their email address should they want to subscribe to your restaurant’s email newsletter, and you can keep your regulars updated with all the latest offerings on your menu.
When it comes to building out an actual newsletter, there are a number of user friendly, third party vendors who can help. Take a look at Mailchimp, HubSpot or Constant Contact for templated, easy-to-use newsletter forms. Make sure to include a jpeg of your restaurant’s logo, vibrant photos of dishes or decor from your restaurant, and positive copy that makes your guests hungry for their next visit.
Your restaurant website design should be a direct reflection of the restaurant itself. Does your restaurant have a simple aesthetic with modern furnishings and clean lines? Your website’s design should reflect that. Work with your website designer or some of the templated website vendors (Squarespace + Wix) previously mentioned to curate a distinctive restaurant website that accurately portrays your brand, both visually and culturally.
Modern websites have rich multimedia elements, including delicious photos and videos of the best dishes in the house. Prioritize investing in rich multimedia elements of your dishes and decor, focusing on the most evergreen menu items in your early shoots, and adding additional photos of new items for your website and social feeds over time.
Related: Strategies restaurants can use to increase efficiency in 2022
Social media links
A great way to boost engagement on both your restaurant’s social media platforms and your website is to integrate them seamlessly online. Any website design software will allow you to easily hyperlink your social pages such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram directly on any webpage. Vice versa, it’s important that you include a link to your restaurant’s website in the bio sections of your social media pages. By linking these engagement platforms together, you’re providing your customers with consistent information on all fronts and driving increased viewership across platforms (i.e. people who found you on Instagram can now view your website).
A great way to boost engagement on your website is to include customer reviews of your restaurant. Viewers can not only gain more information about your restaurant from the standard webpages, but they can peruse the customer reviews to get a better feel for the overall experience at your restaurant. Reviews build trust between your business and your customers, driving more customer visits and sales to your restaurant. You can pull positive reviews from your social feeds, customer surveys, or by pulling the data from third party review websites, like Yelp. Most of these sites will have widgets that will allow you to embed the customer review directly into your site and customize some of the elements to match your site’s style.
All of the features on your restaurant’s website are only as good as the insights they provide. When designing your webpage, be sure to select software that provides you easy to use back-end analytics - items like number of views, source of views (i.e. Google search vs. social media link), time of views, etc. By seeing how folks find your website, where on your website they’re looking for information and where they’re spending the most time, you’ll have data you can use to work on your menu or to improve the website itself. By having this info, you can make more informed decisions about your customers and their values.