Running a restaurant is a great task with several responsibilities that never cease. And restaurateurs never wish to add another job to their already overloaded schedule, especially if it is creating and maintaining an exclusive website for themselves. But, gone are the days when it was an additional task. Today, a professional website is a necessity for any food business that wishes to prosper in the highly competitive arena.
Statistics state that 75% of consumers often made a choice about a restaurant based on online search results. Thus, not having a website for oneself is a grave mistake as one misses out on capitalizing on the benefits from a huge ‘dine-out ready’ crowd.
Effective online visibility can make a great difference for restaurants and determines their profitability in the long run.
7 Compelling Reasons Why a Restaurant Must Have a Unique Website
A website is a powerful tool to create the first best impression on the visitors. When it is built well, it enables the restaurant to exercise greater control over their brand image. An own website is a platform for a restaurant to narrate its story in its own style, unlike third parties telling it. Customers get a good idea of what the restaurant is all about, the offerings and prices, signature dishes, its business mission and the overall atmosphere inside the restaurant. A restaurant can use a website to boost sales by including high quality images of the food, the interiors of the space and also working videos of the staff.
Improved Search Rankings
If SEO techniques are professionally followed while building the restaurant website and also adding relevant content to it, the website can enjoy the benefits of improved Search Rankings on Google and other search engines.
Convenient for Customers and the Business
A modern restaurant website allows customers to make table reservations, order food online, make digital payments, sign up for newsletters, leave comments and rate it with stars. This empowers customers and gives them the convenience that they expect the most. With online table reservations, a restaurant manages the crowd effectively and overbooking is avoided.
More Trust and Loyalty
Customers also look to know the feedback of other customers even before they make their first visit to a specific restaurant. Therefore, third-party websites must not be their source of information. Since 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as interpersonal recommendations, the website is the most perfect place to fill with testimonials and engage in brand building. Reviews on the Google Business page can also be directly added to the website for greater organic traffic and more authenticity.
Placing billboards, producing commercials and airing them, buying radio spots for voice ads can turn out to be very expensive for restaurants. They are in fact, temporary too. Whereas, a website is definitely an affordable and a permanent platform for advertising activities.
Information for Guests
People looking out for dining options are definitely going to look at a restaurant’s social media accounts and its website to make an informed decision. Thus, a website must be able to tell guests about operational hours, address, new menu items, signature dishes, currents specials, offers, discounts, etc. All that a restaurant needs to do is to keep such vital information frequently checked and updated. If information provided is incorrect, it could frustrate a customer.
Promoting Related Services
Telling guests about your catering facilities and private party hosting amenities will ensure that customers also know about your affiliated services. They will get in touch with you not only for dining but also for other events and parties.
14 Ways to Make a Restaurant Website Look Unique
A restaurant website must be able to communicate the value of the business, delight users, drive organic traffic to the website and generate foot traffic to the restaurant. Here are a few ways to make the website design stand out.
- Always Keep the User in Mind – Internet users mostly skim and filter through digital content. They spend very less time reading and engaging. So, always keep user behavior on the web as a basis while you build a restaurant website. Influence visitors better with emotions or intuitions rather than intellectual content.
- Have a Well-planned Information Hierarchy – The way you decide to organize content on the website is referred to as Information Hierarchy. This hierarchy is the means by which users will consume the content provided on the restaurant website. The key to getting it right is giving the element of usability the highest priority. A restaurant must make decisions regarding what pages it needs on the site, how each page will be connected to the others, what will the goal of each page be and what content will be posted on every page.
- Make the Website Mobile-friendly – More than 60% of all searches are done using a mobile gadget. With regard to the Food & Beverage industry, it is 72%. So, the chances of your customer reaching you via a mobile phone are great. Keeping the restaurant website mobile friendly and optimized for a great mobile experience is essential to attract customers more closer towards the business.
- Keep the Website Skimmable – The most noted user behavior on the internet is ‘skimming’. Content on a restaurant website, especially, the menu must be easy to skim. Usage of good typography, typographic scales and sufficient white space are techniques that can be used to make the website skimmable.
- Use Familiar Conventions – Since most of us use the internet intuitively and based on past experiences, websites usually place the navigation on the top, the sidebars on the right and the footers at the bottom. This facilitates people to easily navigate through the website using familiar conventions. Incorporating common paradigms is important to motivate people to call the restaurant or click to make orders.
- Create Content That Sells – Most restaurants that decide to create and maintain a website fail in not hiring professional people to produce its content. They think that copy writing is not as important as the other visual elements. But, in reality, it is good, clear and precise writing that makes the website skimmable and also a means to engage visitors with words. The copy on the website should be a combination of descriptive, persuasive and educative writing.
- Use Captivating Images – Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, when on the web, it gets translated into a million. All it takes is just 13 milliseconds for a human brain to process an image and make a judgement. We also act upon that judgement in less than 1/3 of a second. A restaurant website must use a lot of food images supplemented by images of the dining spaces, kitchen, staff and also other types of graphics, icons and infographics.
- Descriptive Videos – Today, the web is filled with video content on various topics. If a picture can turn the tide in favor of restaurants, videos can perform even better. If a restaurant succeeds in making the videos communicative and entertaining too, more than half of the promotional activity is done. With mobile phones and editing apps, creating a video is also a simple affair these days.
- White Space and Good Typography – The restaurant website design must use a lot of white space to keep the layout clean, clutter free and visually appealing. The typography used on the website must reflect the brand, be easily readable, have a clear scale and typographical hierarchy.
- Credibility Elements – While a website and a great design itself enhance credibility, there are other factors too. Testimonials, reviews by food bloggers, associations and affiliations, ratings and news about the restaurant in the media can be featured either on the top of the main header image or further down the page to further impress an already engaged visitor.
- Call To Action – Unless people are asked to engage, they will not do so. If a sale has to be done, a request must definitely be made. It is this request that will lead to followers, subscribers, patrons, vendors and ultimately, sales for the restaurant. Use click buttons, words, links and images to ask people to engage, act and participate.
- Smart Use of Color Scheme – Since 90% of product assessments are based on color, color psychology must be given adequate attention while the website design is finalized. Restaurants must use colors according to the feelings, moods and actions that they wish to stimulate.
- Continuous Evolution – Change is always constant. So, restaurants must consistently test the website using analytics tools. Tests can be run once every 2 months so that enough data has been generated to provide direction for making informed decisions. The restaurant must always keep an eye on the metrics and keep the website flexible enough to accommodate further evolutions.
- Keep the Website Secured – The web is an unsafe place with several anti-social elements trying to steal sensitive information or hack websites either for fun or for profit. Even the websites of small restaurants face the same amount of risk as the big players do. Thus, the restaurant must leave no stone unturned to secure the website. Restaurants must uphold best practices for web and data security. Ensure that the webhost, CMS, themes and plugins are verified and updated to reduce the risk of maleficent elements entering your digital space.
12 Must Have Features for a Successful Restaurant Website
- Contact Information – The restaurant’s phone number must be displayed in an obvious spot. You could also mention your email address in a notable spot to invite orders for party gatherings or catering events.
- Address – Help people locate your restaurant easily by providing them the complete address with the Pincode.
- Open Hours – To let people know the operational hours of the restaurant.
- Digital Menu – Since people check restaurant menus online before making a choice, uploading a digital menu (not a mere PDF of the physical menu) is essential.
- Photos – High quality images of the restaurant’s food, drinks and dining spaces will make people feel transported to the brick and mortar restaurant itself.
- Videos – With effective videos on the website, the customers will be able to enjoy before-hand the experience that the restaurant can offer. When the first impression is positive and deep, they are likely to visit the restaurant to make the fantasy a reality.
- About Us Page – This page will help customers understand the restaurant’s history, mission and also helps to create a connection with prospective customers.
- Online Reservations – The link for table reservation must be provided right on the homepage so that customers need not have to scour through pages of the website to locate it.
- Social Media Icons – Including icons of the restaurant’s social media accounts has become an indispensable practice to expand the business digitally and always stay on top of the customers’ minds.
- Online Orders – Last, but not least, if a restaurant accepts food orders online, it must include a highly visible link to online food ordering right on the homepage so that an effective business transaction is effectively achieved.
- Newsletter – Asking visitors to the restaurant website to sign up for the newsletter can be done by embedding a sign-up form or widget on one of the pages. When people signup, the restaurant gets authentic, functional email addresses that can be used for future promotions. New subscribers can also be offered discounts to bring them to the restaurant.
- Careers – If there are job openings in the restaurant and you are hiring, the information can be posted on the careers section of the website to attract candidates
Examples of Unique Restaurant Websites
Here are examples of two stunning restaurant websites. One website is of Mrs. Kumar’s. The restaurant serves authentic Indian cuisine in Monroe township while the other is the website of Redberry Frozen Yogurt operating in Plainsboro. Such templates are curated for restaurants, completely utility-based, filled with information, clutter-free, possess a neat layout, have a logical progression of content and are visually appealing too. Such websites created by professional restaurant website designer help boost sales and expand the customer base.
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