20 Best Practices for Restaurant Websites
You don’t have control over a lot online. Reviews are out of your hands for the most part – although it is up to you how to leverage them – and social networks can feel like a game of paying, liking, and follow-backs (at first).
Your website is the one place on the internet you have the power to customize completely according to your taste and to fit your goals.
And the stakes are high. The impression your website makes on visitors has a real effect on business. According to a recent study, restaurants are the most highly searched industry online, and 75% of people “say they often choose a restaurant to dine at based on those search results.”
So what can you do to make sure your website packs the punch you want it to? Here are 20 suggestions…
1. Make sure the site is mobile responsive. Nearly 60% of all searches are now done on mobile devices (Search Engine Land). No one can afford to miss out on more than half of the people who might be searching for them.
2. Put your highest impact content first. You’ve got about 8 seconds on average before a person will leave your website (Kissmetrics). Choose your headline and imagery strategically.
3. Big, beautiful photos are key. Get people’s mouths watering as soon as possible. Including photos of your food and space makes a meal with you all the more irresistible.
4. Make site navigation intuitive. What are the key details people look for when they visit a restaurant website? Menu, location, online ordering and contact info. Make those parts of your site obvious and easily accessible.
5. Prioritize your goals and design your website to match. Do you most want to encourage online ordering? Make that call-to-action the biggest, loudest, and first on the page. Other calls-to-action should fall below it in the hierarchy you determine.
6. Tell your brand story. Websites give visitors a chance to connect with your brand on a more personal level. Share your history or brand personality: inject humor, support your cause, or introduce your team.
7. Keep your menu up and up-to-date. The cost is high if you don’t: 62% of consumers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device (Constant Contact).
8. Format the menu as an HTML page. That is, not as a PDF or image. Doing so will ensure that Google can actually read your page and include it in search results. Not only that, but it’s easier to make your menu legible in HTML (especially on a phone).
9. Include all your menus. Including gluten-free, vegetarian, and children’s. Don’t miss the opportunity to win the business of the gluten-free, vegetarian couple and their three ravenous kids.
10. Include prices. Consumers like to arm themselves with as much information as possible. Don’t deprive them of that pleasure.
11. Share nutritional and ingredient information. Not only does it feed consumers’ endless appetite for more data, but it also appeals to Millennials.
12. Make it visual. People eat with their eyes. So make it harder for them to look away.
13. Keep it simple. Make each step in the process require only one kind of decision: the cleaner the screen, the better.
14. Be flexible. Make it easy for users to go back and change their minds (click here for more self-order UX design tips).
15. Remember your customers. Offer order history and saved payment options for faster ordering.
16. Make it mobile responsive. Asking for a credit card or phone number? Make sure the number keypad automatically comes up. Little, thoughtful details like that take the frustration out of mobile ordering.
17. Include prominent links to your social channels. It’s undisputed that building a social presence is valuable (especially for restaurants). So make it easy for visitors to find you on social.
18. Feature your rewards program. Along with in-store reminders and signage, promoting your rewards program on your website is a no-brainer. Also a brilliant way to capture email addresses so you can share promotions and news.
19. Feature press, reviews, and write ups. Show off your restaurant’s role within a larger context. Have an engaged social following? You may even consider including a widget that displays posts based on one of your hashtags.
20. Don’t forget to entice potential franchisees. Create a specific form for those interested in franchising, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.