Long passed by are the days where restaurants can operate without a website. All restaurants don’t need an elaborate website that has a page for every menu item, listing the ingredients, cooking descriptions and pricing. But there are three features that, at a minimum, every restaurant website should put in place to ensure all newcomers and frequent customers can find the information they need before they hop in the car to have dinner.
I know I’m cheating and including 4 things under one banner. But they are all related to how the customer is going to get to your location and eventually walk through your front door. Some people prefer just the address, possibly linked to Google Maps for an added bonus. Some people want to see the address in an embedded map so they can see other nearby locations/landmarks to either get a gauge of where you’re located, or perhaps plan a few stops around their meal. Some prefer both – so do both. It’s easy to do and you’ll make everyone happy.
In addition, I always find it to be a nice touch to see a picture of the building from the road so I know what to look for in case my navigation app decides to go rogue on me. And if your parking isn’t obvious (or even if it is), type out some directions of where are the best places to park. Street parking, valet, park out back, leave your car in the front yard of Fred’s house next door – whatever it is.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on great photos. Good lighting and a new smartphone or a quality “point and shoot” camera will provide results that are sufficient for your needs. I’m not saying that a professional photographer isn’t worth the price tag that comes with getting things done right – but don’t sacrifice ‘perfect’ for not having anything on your website.
In terms of photos: Professional photos > Good photos > No photos > Bad Photos.
Of course, it goes without saying that a bad photo of your signature dish or a dimly lit, out of focus photo of your dining room that looks like a tour bus of frat boys just ate there won’t do you any good. So if all you have are bad photos, maybe don’t show them off. And then call a professional.
Updating hours can be a pain, I get it. Especially if you are frequently changing hours based on seasonality, holidays, weather, firing your entire staff on a Wednesday, or whatever the reason might be. But I want to see your updated hours on your website. I want to know that if I show up when your website says you’re open, you’ll be there holding the door open to greet me as a friend. Best practice for keeping your hours updated on the website are to include it in a global footer (with your address and social media links) so that you only need to change it once and it propagates to the whole site. That way you don’t miss a page and create a bad experience of “well, your website said you’d be open!”
And since you’re on social media (right?!) – link to the channels you’re most proud of. You don’t need to excel on all channels all the time, so if Facebook & Instagram are your jam, have icons & links for people to check it out. I usually dissuade clients from including the social media feeds on their site because they can be more of a distraction than anything. I’d rather create a link that opens in a new tab. That way, when your customer is done with their hour-long Facebook time suck after clicking your link, they’ll close out that tab and see your website again. “Oh yeah – I need to call and make reservations for tonight.”
Ok restaurateurs – get to updating those websites. And if you’re looking for more than the minimum, I know a guy.