A great restaurant website design is crucial in today’s market. Not spending the proper time to make your website look sharp will degrade the perceived value of your overall brand. Or even worse, not having a website shows that you aren’t interested in marketing to a new audience, getting found or being discovered.
While having a bad (or non-existent) website has nothing to do with the quality of your food, service or decor – perception can be more important than reality. So if you think you’re saving money by putting together a $5 website from one of those TV commercials or using a hosting company’s free templates to put together a ‘good enough’ website design, think about some of the things that make a great restaurant website below
If you do nothing else, have your phone number and address littered all over your site. Most people coming to your site, especially those ‘I’m on my way now’ type of customers, need your number, your address or even better – a link to Google Maps for directions. Include your hours here as well to cut down on those repetitive phone calls. Phone calls about hours of operation have dropped to a nearly non-existent level at Young’s Jersey Dairy because that information is readily available on the web. How much does having a person sit by your phone cost compared to spending some time to put that on your website?
One of the things that irritates my wife the most when we’re out looking for a new place to eat is the inability for the website to load on her phone. Many restaurant websites are built using restaurant website templates built in Flash, which, of course, doesn’t work on iPhones, iPads, etc. Flash templates are readily available and cheap, so I understand from a cost perspective why restaurant owners would opt to use one of those for their site. But at least have some plain text on the site so some amount of information can be found.
Another important feature is having a clean design. Nothing frustrates me more than not being able to find what I need on a website. And considering I look at websites all day, I’m generally better at finding the information than the average user. If I can’t find the information quickly, and I know this company isn’t the only business like it in town? Sorry, I’m back to Google to find your competition. Which brings me to my next point..
If I type your company’s name into Google and your website isn’t the top result, you’ve got a big problem. That means your site isn’t being indexed or you aren’t allowing search engines to crawl your site for content. Another thing I see pretty commonly among restaurants and small business websites is outdated information on Google Maps, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc. If you have recently changed your phone number or address – make sure this information gets updated everywhere by using a service like GetListed.org to see what information the local search engines have on file about your restaurant.
Getting found when someone searches “great Italian restaurant in the Short North” is a whole other conversation. But get started with getting found when someone searches for you and building a loyal base of happy customers. Then I can help you add some tricks in there to start getting found for more generalized searches.
One of the most valuable pieces of information a restaurant or small business can have is a list of loyal customers, or interested customers. These people are already pre-qualified to like your business (they gave you their information, after all) – you just need to have the means to contact them. A well groomed email marketing list is just part of a great marketing strategy, but it’s an important one that often gets overlooked.
Lastly, have links to your social media outlets. This information is more likely to be fresh and up to date unless you are spending a lot of time updating your site with new content. (Bonus points if you are doing both!) Having a Twitter feed or a Facebook box on the side or the bottom of your site will allow your customers to continue to connect with you even when they aren’t on your website. After all, we can’t expect your clients to just hang out on your website every day, can we?