User Experience and Navigation: Designing a User-friendly Restaurant Website

When restaurateurs start designing a restaurant website, they tend to focus on making it look good. A good website should look good – no second thought about it. But it is also essential to keep the design user-friendly and achieve a navigation that customers find simple to implement. You would be surprised to know that the best performing restaurant websites are seldom interesting or beautiful to look at. Before delving into the critical components of the best performing restaurant website, let us look at the options available for designing a website.  

59% of diners check a restaurant’s website before deciding about a place to dine-in 

A restaurant website must give prospective customers all kinds of information – like location, contact information, online menu, working hours, food images, restaurant interior photos, etc. – so that they can make an informed decision.  

A restaurant website must reflect the same care that goes into the making of the food. It should function as an extension of the customer experience. 

Ways To Design A Restaurant Website

Hiring a professional designer

While hiring a professional to build a fully customized website, one gets the advantage of achieving an online store that is exactly the way one wants it to be. The restaurant owner has complete control over every element and content included in the website design. But the downside is that it is expensive and time consuming.

Using a generic website builder 

If you are looking for quick way to build a restaurant website, then make use of platforms like Wix, WordPress, Weebly, etc. Such website builders provide you with ready-to-use customizable templates with drag and drop features that help in creating a restaurant website. The disadvantage is that they offer templates for all kinds of businesses. So, restaurants will find it difficult to include specific elements that are unique requirements of the food industry. Even if you contact customer care to resolve certain issues, the representative might not be able to help you adequately as he himself would be unaware of the industry’s specific needs.

Use a restaurant-specific website building platform like Restaurantify 

The first two ways help you to display your brand and create a virtual store for your restaurant. But, they will not provide you with restaurant-specific tools or features to succeed. If you wish to have inevitable features like online ordering system, digital payment gateway, commission-free delivery, etc. You must make use of Restaurantify to build your website. This free of cost restaurant website building platform allows you to build your online site yourself.  Such platforms understand the way restaurants operate and will provide you with a good-looking, user-friendly, responsive, high-converting website that increases traction, sales and profits.

Essential Design Components Of A Restaurant Website

Restaurant owners must remember that their website is not just an online brochure, but a potential filled platform to earn money and get rid of middlemen involved in the business. The key design elements that every restaurant website must possess are as follows: 

A neat, uncluttered, mobile friendly design 

From the moment he lands on the restaurant website’s homepage, a visitor should be able to navigate the whole website. This is possible only when the website is clean and simple. If there is a clutter formed with unwanted content or images, the design is nothing short of ineffective and unproductive.

A compelling online menu

A restaurant website is mostly visited to know about its menu offerings. A high-converting website provides an instant opportunity to win new customers. Such websites have drool-worthy photos, persuasive food descriptions and a layout with easy navigation. 

A High-Converting Checkout Experience

Restaurants tend to overlook a customer’s checkout experience while developing a website. The interaction between the business and the customer does not end with the selection of the food item. If the customer finds the checkout process difficult, there are many chances that they abandon you and go somewhere else. So, display prominent call-to-action buttons making checkout as simple as possible.

Visible Social Proof 

Using social proof is essential for four reasons – to win the trust of customers, to increase credibility, influence customer behavior and beat competition. Customers trust the reviews written by real people while they are deciding which restaurant they must choose. So, include favorable reviews on the restaurant website. Customers are looking for confirmation that their time and money will not go futile if they choose a specific restaurant.

Loyalty Program 

It is not without a reason that restaurants have used loyalty programs for more than two centuries. A restaurant website design should include a loyalty program to increase customer retention, collect customer centric data, for higher customer spending and foster a sense of community. Using digital, mobile and automated loyalty programs will make a customer return to you and also feel connected. So, to create inclusion, use loyalty programs and make customers feel like special guests.  

Once the website has been launched, the restaurant must focus on increasing revenue from existing customers and attracting new customers.  

All About Website Navigation

One of the most essential website features is good website navigation. 

38% of consumers look at a page’s navigational links and layout when they visit a website for the first time. 

What is Website Navigation?

It is an organized list of links to other web pages – most often a website’s internal pages. Navigation menus are positioned in page headers or sidebars across a website. This allows visitors to access the pages they are looking for easily. 

Navigation is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the website’s information architecture is concerned. 

Website navigation not only helps visitors move from one web page to another, but also aids them to comprehend the relationships between individual pages on a website. 

Website Navigation Bar Design

Although there is no one “right” method with website navigation design, there is a right way to decide how the navigation will be set up. Always keep in mind that you need to enable first-time and repeat visitors to make the most of your restaurant. If this thought constantly runs in your mind, you can never go wrong with website navigation. 

Center your focus on the website visitors to achieve a navigation structure that is sure to win your target audience. 

How To Arrange The Navigation Items?

The order of the navigation items plays a vital role in website navigation. Several studies have provided concrete evidence of people remembering the links on either end of the navigation most vividly. Usually, words presented either first or last in a list tend to gain a greater attention span from the participants. It holds good for a website too. Restaurant owners must place revenue generating, brand building links in such crucial spots.  

The most important items should be placed at the beginning of the navigation and the least important ones in the middle. 

What To Include In The Website Navigation Bar?

Since there are a lot of pages in the website, one must first determine which ones are crucial enough to comprise the universal navigation. Studies suggest keeping navigation items limited to a maximum of seven. To determine which navigation items are worthy or otherwise, always keep the user experience in mind.  

Types Of Website Navigation

Website navigation is crucial because it impacts whether visitors arrive on your homepage and browse for a while or decide to click the “Back” button almost instantaneously, leading to a higher bounce rate. So, one must diligently work on the structure of the website navigation. To do so, one must know about the different types of website navigation.

Horizontal Navigation Bar

This is the most common type of navigation bar where major pages are placed in the website’s header and listed side-by-side. The common items that you would find on the horizontal navigation bar are Contact, About Us, Menu, Reservation, Careers, etc.

Dropdown Navigation Menu 

If you are going to have a content-rich website with a complex IA, then this type of menu should be your ideal choice. In this type of menu, all options need not be listed side-by-side. So, if your menu has plenty of links to pages, a dropdown navigation menu can be used. The most important items can be placed in the header and the others can be added to a dropdown menu.

Hamburger Navigation Menu 

This type of menu is popular with mobile web design. When you use this menu, your navigation is listed horizontally on larger screen sizes. However, on smaller screens, they will collapse behind a hamburger button. When visitors click on this three-line icon, a vertical dropdown or a horizontal pop-up appears with the navigation links. You can choose this type of menu if you do not want the navigation to consume a lot of space

Vertical Sidebar Navigation Menu 

This type of menu offers a seamless user experience as items are stacked one on top of another and placed in the sidebar. Although this type is less popular than horizontal navigation, it has its own benefits. There are greater opportunities for more top-level options. 

Footer Navigation Menu 

This menu is used along with a horizontal navigation bar and expands upon it. This menu provides the links at the bottom of the page. While this helps to declutter and offers easy access to important subpages, it can still get overwhelming. So it must used with discretion. 

This blog would have helped you understand the nuances of designing a user-friendly restaurant website and creating an unforgettable user experience for your visitors. For more assistance with restaurant digital marketing, get in touch.