So your restaurant does not have its own website yet? The best time to do so was yesterday! The second best time? Now! After all, the Harvard Business Review found in one of their studies that online reviews can make or break a restaurant.
And if you’ve not even rented a virtual space yet, you’re simply losing out on nearly 40% of additional sales! While building an online presence for your restaurant is vital, it can seem challenging. Where do you start, and how do you keep up with this digitally connected era?
Fret not! This guide will walk you through the crucial steps involved in creating your restaurant’s online presence through a website.
Table of Contents
1. Attractive Design
The first thing your website visitors will notice is its design. According to Jason Baird, the author of The Principles of Beautiful Web Design, the key to a quality design is not just visual appeal but asymmetrical balance.
That means one element on the page must balance out the others – in terms of the size, color, or addition and subtraction of elements. For instance, if you’re using a large image of a black dog on the screen, the same can be offset by another smaller element in a lighter shade (preferably beige, grey, or pastel). Choosing tones like bright orange or red will throw off the balance of the design.
Besides the look, your website design must be functional. Users must find it easy to navigate to different elements. A key component of this would be compatibility with smartphones. After all, a CNBC study found that 72% of netizens will only use their phones to browse the internet by 2025.
2. An Up-to-Date Menu
Of all traffic, a good percentage will belong to those visitors who have never walked through your restaurant’s doors. Naturally, the first thing they would want to explore is the menu. Here are some tips for designing a website menu that works –
- Avoid taking the PDF or JPG route – An image or PDF can make the menu not only challenging to read but also difficult to navigate. Tools like the Glass website builder for restaurants offer numerous free fun templates. You can select one that matches your business model.
- Organize it well for readability – In a physical restaurant, the appetizers are included first, followed by the main course and desserts. But your website menu is meant to tempt readers to pay a visit. In this case, you win by adding the most popular items on the top or the front of the page. Also, categorize the menu properly based on flavors, diet, cuisine, etc.
- Include the prices – Never make the mistake of not including the prices! People want to know whether the dishes you offer are competitively priced and within their budget.
- Make it vibrant and picturesque – When it comes to food, nothing beats delectable pictures. But for a picture to be worth a thousand words, you must include high-definition ones. Keep them realistic and not over-the-top (customers do get disappointed when the actual dish bears no resemblance to the photo!).
3. A Dedicated Space for Reservations
If you’ve done well so far, the next thing visitors would want to know about is their reservation options. This piece of information can be included in different places throughout the website. Even so, you must have a dedicated space that is accessible from the homepage itself.
This page will exclusively talk about all details pertaining to reservations – booking hours, policies like no-shows, and direct calling numbers (in case bookings are made through calls). If possible, you can also include a CTA for online reservations. Tools like OpenTable offer an easy one-click reservation.
Remember, the more simplified the booking process is, the more likely your guests will respond quickly.
4. Takeout Options
Did you know that online food ordering or takeout has increased by 300% since 2014? Yes, not only that but 60% of diners surveyed by PR News Wire order food online at least twice a week.
Your restaurant will only miss out if its website does not include online food ordering options. The first step is to partner with third-party companies like DoorDash and GrubHub. These chains offer customers easy access to food delivery along with multiple payment options.
Not only that but customers also get to share feedback and pictures. You can focus on food preparation and forgo delivery-related worries.
However, if you’re fretting about the hefty commissions involved, it is best to set up an online ordering system that integrates into your restaurant’s tech. That way, the money stays in-house, and you need not face order-punching hassles!
5. Contact Details
Your website’s design has managed to keep visitors interested, and the appetizing menu has convinced them to walk through the doors. The next question on their mind would be how to get to you!
This is where a well-defined, clear contact information page comes into the picture. The contact page should include more than just your restaurant’s email address and calling number. First, ensure the calling numbers and email IDs are clickable for easy access.
Next, include the full address (all of them in case of multiple locations). Also, include your available hours so customers can directly jump to bookings instead of enquiring whether you’re open or not.
6. Social Media Linking
You don’t just want one-time customers, right? The only way to stay on top of their mind (long after they’ve left your restaurant) is to keep them engaged on social media.
But for that to happen, your website must include your available social media accounts. Did you know that at least 75% of customers make a purchase after they see something on social media? People relish and experience with their eyes first!
Leverage this by periodically posting on your social media accounts – food pictures, customer reviews, discounts, offers, etc. You can even collaborate with influencers, introduce your staff in fun ways, and conduct live sessions of chefs at work – the scope is endless!
As for the website, include social media icons at the top of the page for easy access.
The only way (especially in today’s digitally interconnected world) to ensure your restaurant is fully packed is to establish a strong online presence. Unless your customers know that you exist, they will never visit you, let alone enjoy the lip-smacking delicacies.
And once they have tasted what you have to offer, encourage them to spread the word through website reviews, app ratings, and even social media collaborations. It’s a people’s business, right? So, make it all about the community, and you will never go wrong!