In a pandemic-prone world, a restaurant website is an important tool for Restaurant marketing, branding, growing the business, and interacting with customers. Restaurants must include it as part of their digital marketing strategy.
Why do Restaurants have Websites?
A majority of restaurants do not have a website or their website is outdated.
Social media pages have become some people’s primary online presence. Some organizations place their primary online presence on third-party platforms (microsites). This is a huge mistake. There is no online presence owned by the business. Business would suffer sooner or later if this were to happen without having a website.
Website Design for Restaurants
Restaurant website designing can have several goals. As long as the primary goal of your restaurant website is “conversion,” that is to drive new customers to your restaurant, then the design needs to optimize for that primary purpose.
The following five features are essential to converting online visitors into customers at restaurant websites:
1. Mobile-Friendly Design
A big majority of people are now accessing the restaurant website from a mobile device.
Smartphones are becoming ubiquitous, so people on the go tend to search for restaurants either on the mobile browser or with mapping apps like Google Maps, etc., which directly link to the restaurant’s website.
The restaurant website faces the greatest challenge due to the small screen size of mobile devices. Website visitors should not have to pinch and zoom in order to understand and navigate the website.
2. Accurate Information
An accurate online description of the restaurant should be available from the restaurant website.
When prospective customers search online for information about your business, they often land on different online platforms (microsites), mobile apps, or local directories such as the Yellow Pages, Yelp, Foursquare, Google+, Zomato, Grubhub, Groupon, etc.
There are many of these sites out there, and you can manage the information on them. The good news is that much of their information comes from the restaurant websites at first. They are not kept up to date over time, which is the bad news.
Listed below are the parts of your website that must be kept updated:
- Directions and address
- Operating hours
- Information about the menu and nutrition (if applicable)
- Contact information
- E-mail address (or contact form)
A website should also provide information about catering, specials, events, and announcements, if applicable.
3. Page Speed:
Fickle people lack patience. People will lose interest in a website that takes too long to load. Websites need to load quickly. Otherwise, users will simply move on and may not return. Improve load times by limiting the use of heavy graphics and animations.
For testing the speed of websites, Google provides the Page Speed Insights tool. The service is free.
4. Testimonials and Social Proof
On the restaurant website, after potential customers have found factual information (such as the address, hours, menu, etc) about the business, they now look for social proof to decide whether to dine or order food.
Potential customers should be able to find “proof” for making their decision on the restaurant’s website.
Some of the questions guests naturally ask about restaurants are: “what other people are saying about this restaurant” and “who else is visiting this site.”.
Restaurant websites should integrate reviews, ratings, and testimonials from review sites and social media platforms.
Guests can easily access restaurant pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and like and share them. Social media integration makes it easy to share and like a restaurant’s pages via social media.
5. Email Retargeting
Ideally, we want the first-time visitor to the restaurant website to continue to engage with the restaurant digitally so that the restaurant is on top of their mind when it comes to dining choices.
Connecting with your website visitors is a very effective way to engage with them and potentially turn them into customers.
Starting an ongoing relationship with your guests with social media and email is a good way to get started.
Restaurants must grow and nurture their email list in order to become successful online. Restaurant websites should offer ways for customers to subscribe to their email lists.
Multiple email sign-up forms should be placed throughout the website, including the specials page (to sign up for free special offers), contact form (to stay informed of updates), and pop-ups throughout the website.
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