Owning and operating a restaurant is one of the toughest jobs out there. The hours are long and days off are few and far between. As a former restaurant owner I understand how hard it is to run a food service business. The challenge of construction deadlines, hiring and training staff and managing the ever elusive opening day can be overwhelming. If you are a Restaurant owner in startup mode, in the middle of a run or a seasoned veteran, the one thing that seems to get neglected is the website. It becomes a second thought and design elements become dated, updates don’t come as often as they should and sometimes interaction with customers falls off.
In today’s market, your restaurant website can no longer be the last thing on the checklist. The effort spent creating a recipe or the care taken pairing a great wine is now required for web design. Your diners have never been savvier or more selective than they are today. They know what they want and have the ability to dine at your competitor instantly. A poorly designed and inactive site won’t help.
Here’s a list of 5 Dos and Don’ts for your website. If you have 2 or more of the Don’ts on your site, it may be time for a change.
The 5 Don’ts of Restaurant Web Design
Flash design adds graphics to your site. It was all the rage a few years ago but today it just hinders your customer’s online experience. It is very difficult to copy information from a page in Flash and most mobile devices do not support it.
I am not sure where this idea came from. I know many chefs are very creative and artistic, so it might stem from there. But for today’s owner, there is no benefit for you or your customer to have music play on your site.
3. PDF Menus
A PDF menu is almost impossible for your customer to view on a mobile device. From a navigation perspective, most sites require two clicks; once for the PDF menu and then again to view it. Try a web based menu instead.
4. Coming Soon
Restaurant sites are littered with ‘Coming Soon” banners. When your customer clicks on your Order Online Button and then gets a Coming Soon page, it’s enough to sign off. It’s better to remove the coming soon banners for features that are not ready. When your feature is ready- market it and release it.
If there is one example that tells your customers that you have given up is a photo gallery with the latest pictures from last year or your last blog post from seven months ago. It gives the impression you don’t care. If you have these features on your website, make sure you update them.
The 5 Dos of Restaurant Web Design
1. Simple navigation, simple design
When a customer visits your site they have to know where to go immediately. A simple navigation menu will get them there. Keep your design simple and make sure to include a Homepage, an About page and Contact page. Use great images of your food and place and make sure they are high quality.
2. HTML Menu
You no longer need a PDF menu. As your customers migrate more and more to mobile devices, your menu should be easy to read. Changing your menu to a webpage is easier than you think. When you change to an online menu, make sure to include the prices.
In order to be found on the web, you need to create useful content for your customers. The best and cheapest way to do that is to create a blog. You don’t need to blog every day but you do need to blog often and post useful content.
4. Social Media
Your restaurant needs to be on a social media platform. Knowing your customer will help you decide which one is best. Your site needs big social media icons and sharable links. Like a blog, you have to be active and interact with your customers. To help you decide what platform your customers are using check out this infographic from Mashable.com.
5. Responsive Design
Responsive design allows your site to size to the device your customer is using. If your site is responsive, it will be easy to view on a laptop, a tablet or smartphone.
Review your existing site. If you have a few of the Don’ts than change one at a time. If you are building a new site make sure to keep it simple. You can start today and in one short month you can rebuild or create your site that will make your customers happy and craving more.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. If you need help with design, give us a call. 877-389-2591