Did you know that 48% of people judge the credibility of a business based on website design?
It gets scarier. It takes consumers 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about your website. That means you have about 50 milliseconds to make an excellent first impression.
Your website is often the first contact between your restaurant and potential customers. A well-designed website can attract new customers and promote your brand. But it is hard to stand out when so many restaurants compete with you. That's why making your website informative, engaging, and easy to use is crucial. In this article, we'll explore the nine must-have features of a restaurant website. These features can help you improve your online presence and drive more customers to your restaurant.
1. High-quality visuals
High-quality photos are essential for any restaurant website. Here are some photo ideas you can include:
Your food and drinks
This is a must. Show off your most delicious dishes and cocktails. Make sure your chefs and bartender put extra effort into the presentation.
Additionally, you can include photos of some ingredients you use in your dishes. People like to know where their food came from.
Show what your place looks like. You can take a photo of an empty restaurant and show its design. Or take pictures of people having fun during the dinner rush. You will illustrate the restaurant's good energy and draw people in.
If you have any exciting place in your restaurant where people like to take photos, include it on your website. "Instagrammable" restaurants have been a hit on social media for the last few years.
Similarly, a nice street view can encourage people to visit your restaurant. If you have an exciting entrance or flowers up front, add a photo of it on your website.
Behind the scenes
Take photos of your chefs preparing food in the kitchen. Or include pictures of your waitstaff and show appreciation for them.
You should invest in a professional photographer to ensure you get high-quality photos. But do not add too many images or large files because that will increase your page loading time. 47% of users expect a web page to load in less than 3 seconds. I know you would love to have many beautiful images on your website, but you don’t want users to leave your website because it is loading too long.
2. Tell your story
Include an “About Us” section that tells the story of your restaurant. Talk about your history, mission, and values. Storytelling is a great way to connect with your customers. And people return to places they feel connected to. Here are some ways to establish this connection:
Tell a story of how the restaurant was founded. Whether you built it from scratch or bought it from someone else, there is a story behind it.
Tell a story behind your menu. Where are the ingredients from? Is the recipe from your grandma, who taught you how to cook when you were little? Your dishes will taste better if customers know the story behind them.
Communicate your brand’s values. What does your brand stand for? Is it the highest level of customer service? Maybe your restaurant donates food/money to a charity?
Add your mission statement to the website. A restaurant's mission statement focuses on the food, quality of service, or brand values. It should be catchy, unique, transparent, and communicate your strengths.
Storytelling will create a bond between your brand and potential customers. Learn more about restaurant branding and storytelling here.
3. User-friendly navigation
Your website should be intuitive and easy to use. Make sure your website visitors can find all the information they need quickly. A clear menu structure, search functionality, and well-organized pages are all essential components of a website.
According to the Komarketing survey, 37% of people had left a website because of poor navigation. If it takes people too long to find your menu or contact, they will leave and find a different restaurant.
4. Online ordering and reservations
In today's fast-pacing world, providing food delivery is more important than ever. Statista says online sales are growing 300% faster than dining in. But 70% of consumers said they would order straight from the restaurant instead of 3rd party service. Therefore, including an online ordering system on your website is necessary. You probably work with a food delivery service, but adding this option to your website will make it more convenient for customers.
To optimize your online ordering system, ensure the process is straightforward for customers. Include clear instructions, user-friendly interfaces, and multiple payment options. This simple process will improve user experience and increase your sales.
5. Up-to-date menu
Your menu is one of the most critical elements of your restaurant website. It should be easy to read, up-to-date, and include pricing information. If you often change your menu, you must update it regularly to ensure clarity and customer satisfaction.
Include photos of your best-selling dishes. However, only include a few pictures. Too many visuals will lower the impact on the customers. Including a photo of one dish can increase your sales by up to 30%.
Researchers found that customers read the menu like a book, starting at the top left but focusing the most on the top-right corner. Menu designers call this a “sweet spot.” Additionally, a GBAT study found that one-third of people ordered the first item they saw on the menu. Hence it is recommended to place your high-margin dishes to the top-right.
Lose the dollar sign when you list your prices. Greg Rapp suggests that a currency sign reminds diners of the pain of spending money. When this pain is triggered, most people will order their food based on the price and go for lower-cost dishes. Additionally, a study done by The Center for Hospitality Research found that people spent significantly more time at restaurants that didn’t include currency on their menus.
6. Loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a great way to get your customers to return and increase your sales. Here are some ideas to offer rewards to your customers:
Offer a free appetizer with their fifth visit.
Social media rewards: allow your customers to collect points when they post a photo from your restaurant
Refer-a-Friend program: let your customers earn points each time they refer their friends
Offer extended Happy Hour to the loyalty members
Include the information about the rewards program on your website. This will attract more locals, get you more customers, and encourage referrals.
7. Mobile responsiveness
With most customers using their smartphones to browse the web, you must optimize your website for mobile. Adjust the layout to fit the smaller screens and make it easier for customers to access your website on the go. According to Statista, over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices.
Include only a little content on your mobile site. Mobile screens are smaller, and this will make your website seems cluttered. Focus on high-quality content rather than volume.
Also, mobile friendliness will improve your ranking on search engines. Google stated that mobile optimization is a big ranking factor. A mobile-friendly website is more likely to show on the first page on Google, get more website traffic, and ultimately have higher sales.
8. Contact, hours, and location
Include this essential information in your main navigation. Don't make customers search for the most basic information, such as your location. Include your restaurant's phone number, email, address, and location. If your restaurant has multiple locations, include all of them.
Remember, it is all about convenience. If users must do an extra search or call your restaurant to find your address, they will lose patience and find an easier way (your competitor's website).
Remember to include links to your social media pages on your contact page. Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your restaurant, engaging with customers, and building your brand. Include these links on your website, so customers can follow you online.
9. Encourage email sign-ups
Email marketing is great for building customer relationships and promoting your restaurant. On average, it generates $38 for every $1 spent. Encourage customers to sign up by offering special promotions, discounts, or exclusive content.
Add a simple website form to your website. Offer a loyalty program or a discount for all users who sign up. Ask for basic information only. The more fields you include, the less likely people are to sign up. Still, you can add a few more fields and keep them optional. For example, if you ask for people's birthdays, you can send them emails inviting them to celebrate at your restaurant.
Learn more about restaurant email marketing here.
These nine essential elements can improve customer experience and ultimately increase sales. Remember, your website reflects your brand, and creating an exceptional online presence will pay off in the long run.
We hope this guide helped you understand how to use your website to grow your customer base and your brand image. If you need any help with your restaurant’s marketing, please reach out to us by email or sign up for a free discovery call.
Related Restaurant Marketing Resources
4 Brand Elements That Will Differentiate Your Restaurant From The Competitors