Want to learn how to create a website that highlights your restaurant's best features while adhering to modern web design trend and sensibilities? We've got the top tips for putting a site together for your eatery right here.
In previous parts of this series, we’ve talked about using an HTML template to create your restaurant website, showcased a number of templates to make the selection easier, and shared examples of visually appealing modern restaurant websites. However, creating a website goes beyond finding an attractive template and customizing it with your colors.
For many people, your restaurant website will be the first point of contact with your restaurant and your brand. As such, it needs to show them what you've got to offer and give them a taste of the atmosphere they can expect. It needs to convince them to make the reservation, place an order, or to visit in person.
In today’s article, we’ll share with you the best branding, design, and marketing tips to help you create a truly stellar restaurant website that encourages visitors to come enjoy your dishes, the atmosphere, and the friendly staff at your restaurant.
Branding Tips For Modern Restaurant Websites
Regardless of whether you already have a restaurant or if you’re opening one up for the first time, your brand will become one of your best assets. It will help you carve out a unique look and experience for your customers. Consider that branding as you create a restaurant website as well as in the restaurant itself.
Aside from visuals such as logo and colors, a part of your brand may be the way you appeal to customers (for example, are you proud of using local organic ingredients?) as well as whether you show your human side or use a mascot to interact with your audience.
You'll likely also want to consider using a professional website template or theme to ensure that your modern restaurant website has just the right look. Fortunately, there are many good restaurant website templates available to help you build a restaurant website. For example, you can find modern restaurant templates at Envato Elements. Restaurant themes are also available at ThemeForest.
Here are a few tips to get you started on your restaurant website:
1. Define Your Target Audience
Before creating your restaurant website, it’s important to understand your target audience. If you’re just launching your restaurant, consider for a moment your location as well as the type of food you’ll be serving. This can give you great insight on the type of audience you’ll attract.
For example, if you’re located in a busy financial sector, you might attract a lot of bankers, business people, or insurance agents. If that’s the case, then your restaurant website should aim for a professional or corporate look.
Your target audience might also dictate the type of dishes you serve as well as the interior design of your restaurant.
If you’re already an established restaurant, you know exactly who your target audience is; they've been coming to your venue for years. In that example, you want your restaurant website to reflect the style of your restaurant as much as possible so your existing customers can recognize it the second their eyes catch your logo in the header.
2. Find Your Advantage
There's no doubt that the restaurant industry is extremely competitive. That’s why you've got to figure out your biggest advantage and do what you can to highlight this information on your website.
Don’t forget to talk to your customers and patrons and ask them why they keep coming back to your restaurant. Their answers might surprise you and show you a new way to up your marketing and branding strategy.
At the same time, you’ll also want to get their input on ways you can improve not only your service but also your customer experience, menu, and more.
3. Analyze Competitors
It pays off to research other restaurants in your area and see how they’ve built their modern restaurant websites, what type of information they included, and more. Consider observing restaurants that serve the same or similar type of cuisine and customers, restaurants that are on the opposite end of the spectrum, as well as those that are outside of your immediate area.
Not only will you get a better sense of what information you should have on your website, but you can also see what information is missing and use that to your advantage.
It’s worth mentioning that while doing this research, you shouldn't try to emulate the look of your competitor’s restaurant website, otherwise this exercise becomes moot.
Design Tips For Modern Restaurant Websites
If you’ve been following this series from the start, you know we already covered a number of design tips such as using a responsive template, ensuring your images are high-quality, and more. Here are a few more ideas to apply to your website’s design:
4. Don’t Upload JPG or PDF Versions of Your Menus
The menu will probably be one of the most popular pages on your restaurant site--even more popular than your About page. Because of this, your menu should be responsive, usable, and encouraging. You should avoid uploading a JPG or a PDF version of your menu because the contents will be harder to read on a smartphone or a tablet.
Another point to consider is that a file version of your menu, be it an image or a document, cannot be indexed properly by the search engines. In other words, uploading an image or a PDF menu can negatively affect your search engine rank.
Make sure all the dishes on your menu are re-typed onto your restaurant website so the text can scale and be parsed by search engines. If possible, keep the menu visible on one page without adding extra clicks to ensure visitors on mobile devices have an easy time accessing your menu.
5. Simplify Contact and Feedback Forms
It goes without saying that your restaurant website should have a page with a contact form. However, you want to make sure that the contact form is easy to fill out. Don’t ask for unnecessary information such as requiring them to leave their phone number or address. A few simple fields for email, name, and a message are all that's required out of the most basic contact form. It’s quick and it makes it more likely that customers will reach out to you.
Similarly, you’ll want to simplify feedback forms that ask your customers or visitors to leave a review. Here, you can ask for their name, a star rating, and a brief explanation of their review. Remember, the simpler the form the less intimidating it looks, so there's no need to spend time creating elaborate forms for simple tasks.
6. Display Your Location and Hours
When it comes to your modern restaurant website’s design, don’t forget to include a map of your physical location as well as your hours. This will allow potential customers to not only see where you are, but also to get directions to your venue instantly. And with that information easily accessible, you’ll improve the conversion rates on your websites.
You can use Google Maps to embed a map with your location and there are plenty of themes and templates that come with this functionality in place. Consider including your telephone number surrounded by <tel> </tel> tags as well to make it easier for customers on mobile devices to immediately call you.
You can display this information on your About page, Contact page, in the footer of your website, or in all those places. The goal is to make this information as easy to access as possible, especially if you don’t have an online booking form.
Marketing Tips For Restaurant Websites
Lastly, once your website is set up, it’s important to establish and develop a marketing strategy that will help you stay connected with your customers, notify them about events and special promotions, and more.
7. Link Your Social Media Profiles to Your Website
One of the first things you should do, even before you officially launch your restaurant website, is to create social media profiles on networks where your target audience likes to spend time. This usually includes Facebook and Twitter, but don’t ignore the power of visual networks like Instagram and Pinterest--which are very popular with the food industry.
On top of that, you should also consider registering your restaurant with Google Business and creating a profile on sites like Yelp and Foursquare. Doing so will allow you to stay connected with your customers as well as monitor your reputation and engage with customers by replying to them and addressing their concerns.
Another benefit of linking your social media profiles with your sites is the fact that it will help you organically rank higher in search engines.
8. Track Your Stats
Make sure your website is set up with Google Analytics so you can keep track of page views, the number of visitors, keywords visitors are using to find your website, and more. If you use a booking form, you can even track how well your restaurant site is converting and which pages on your site lead visitors straight to the booking form.
It can also give you ideas for marketing material, which brings us to the next tip.
9. Create Content
A blog can do a lot for your website, especially when your restaurant site is brand new. You can share cooking tips on your blog or write about the history of your restaurant. Consider sharing when and why you decided to open it up, how you decided on the name and type of cuisine, highlight your staff, and more. You can also record a video of your food being prepped or how you prepare the restaurant for the daily rush.
But, you don’t have to limit yourself to just blogging. You need to create content for your social media accounts, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different content types. Try going live on Facebook to invite fans to a special event or use Instagram stories to highlight a promotion. Remember to be creative and pay attention to what your audience and website visitors resonate the most with.
10. Start an Email List
An important step of your marketing should include starting your email list as soon as possible. Doing so allows you to send more personal messages to your patrons and let them be the first to know when something is happening in your restaurant. It also allows you to have a group of people you can always count on for feedback by asking them to fill out your survey and send you suggestions on how you can improve your services.
You can get started with your email list using a tool like MailChimp, which is free for up to 2000 email subscribers. You'll also need to come up with an incentive to encourage people to join your list. You could offer them a coupon for a free drink with any meal, free appetizers or extra breadsticks with their order.
11. Remember to Keep Your Site Up to Date
Last, but not least, remember to keep your site up to date. This means that any changes in your menu will need to be reflected on your site as soon as possible to avoid awkward situations. If you regularly host events, make sure the information is current. You’ll also want to ensure your visitors know in advance if your restaurant will be closed during holidays or if you're doing some renovating.
Another point to consider is to occasionally review pages on your site and update them as needed. Consider also updating photos on your site throughout the year.
Finally, don’t forget to review your social media profiles and update the information there as well.
Learn More About How to Make a Website for a Restaurant
If you create restaurant websites, we have many tutorials to help you. Here are just a few additional resources for you to explore:
- WordPressHow to Make a Website for a Restaurant With WordPress (Quickly)Brenda Barron
- WordPress Themes22+ Best Restaurant WordPress Themes: With Premium Responsive DesignsBrenda Barron
- HTML5How to Make Restaurant Websites With HTML5 TemplatesBrenda Barron
Use These Tips to Make Great Modern Restaurant Website
You've just learned how to create a restaurant website that incorporates branding. We hope these tips will help you make your modern restaurant website as great as your restaurant. If you don’t know where to start, consider checking out our template and WordPress restaurant theme collection. Then, follow our guide to install and customize the template, and apply the tips covered in this article. Good luck!