Many restaurant websites are in danger of becoming obsolete due to their outdated designs, causing frustrating user experiences. The web is in a constant pattern of change and new technologies are now available that make it easier for customers to view websites on many devices including mobile phones and tablets. The most offensive websites are the ones with Flash intros and background music. Although years ago, the standard way to display menus on a restaurant website was by using PDF’s or huge images, causing prolonged loading times. The worst restaurant websites would have no menus at all.
Here are the most important things that visitors want to see when they come to a restaurant website:
- Visitors want to quickly and easily browse through the menu.
- They want to know the restaurant’s location and it’s operating hours.
- They want to see a few photos to get a feel for the interior dining experience.
- Many Visitors want to access all of this using their mobile phones or tablets.
What is “responsive design” and why is it important for a restaurant website?
Trends indicate that more people are viewing the web via their mobile phones and tablets rather than destop computers and laptops. Websites optimized for mobile devices, utilizing responsive design, can actually re-arrange a website layout to accomodate most computers and mobile devices. That means that your website will look great on anything from a large flat screen to an iPhone. If someone finds you via a Google or Yelp search, they will be pleasantly surprised to click on your link and land at an easy to use, mobile website.
Show me the pictures!
It’s not very exciting to arrive at a restaurant website with a logo, a couple of photos and a text menu. Spice things up with a variety of photos that portray the restaurant decor and ambience, seating and outside views. Don’t forget the food! The number one reason that people come to your restaurant is the food, so don’t skimp on showing off your culinary talents. While it is not necessary to feature every menu item, a brief selection of photos or perhaps a short slideshow will make a huge difference. Many responsive design websites feature home page sliding images. Use this space to add a couple of your most enticing culinary delights.
Adding a Facebook “Like” box to your website sidebar is essential. People will share their experiences with others and will be curious to see who else “Liked” your Facebook page. Add photos and updates to your Facebook page too and actively post replies and comments. This is a great way to make your customers feel like part of the family. Add a plug-in that will also “auto Tweet” your posts to Twitter too. Make sure to add social media sharing buttons to your website, which will allow visitors to share posts, etc. on your website with their friends.
Add reviews and testimonials to your website as well. People like to see what others have said about your restaurant and testimonials are a valuable marketing tool.
It’s the web…use it!
Many restaurants fall short of their full potential by failing to take advantage of the Web. Online reservations and online ordering can make a HUGE difference. One of my customers has a Thai catering website that allows customers to place online orders. They select from a menu of items and options, place their order and pay by credit card. They get a call back to arrange a pick up time. When they arrive, their order is ready, they have an email receipt and time is saved. This customer also uses a blog and email newsletter to notify her customers of upcoming specials and new additions to her menus.
Create videos of events at your restaurant, a cooking class, etc. and add them to your own YouTube Channel. YouTube is owned by Google (and yes it will come up in a Google search!) so leverage this and add a YouTube icon to your social media icons on your website.