As a bar owner, you might know the ingredients to all your drinks, but do you know the ingredients of a great website? Nowadays, your website must be slick, clean, easy to navigate, and shows off your restaurant’s unique brand. The website’s job is to entice people to want to eat there, or even order directly from the site.
So, what are the ingredients for a great website? The following is a list of best practices recommended by Bjorn Wallman – a Yelp Top Rated Web Designer in Las Vegas – that will help bring in customers from your website into your restaurant.
- Make the homepage shine. Your homepage is the first impression of your restaurant as far as web visitors are concerned. A good homepage will tell visitors the basics about your restaurant: location, hours, contact information, and have at least one quality photo. Also, make it clear whether or not you take reservations. And if you do, spell out your reservation policy so visitors know what to expect when they call.
- Keep all the important information “above the fold.” The Internet has made us lazy. As a result, people don’t like to scroll down to find the basic information they’re looking for. All of the basic information about your venue should be located on the top half of the webpage – otherwise known as “above the fold.”
- Feature quality photos. Having quality photos of your signature dishes can really entice someone to eat at your restaurant. But taking a couple pictures of a few hastily made dishes with your iPhone simply won’t cut it. Instead, try to use a professional photographer who can properly stage the picture correctly to make the food look as delicious as possible. Pictures of your restaurant (both outside and inside) can also be featured.
- Easy navigation menu. Your navigation menu shouldn’t be buried in a bunch of clutter. Keep the menu simple, easy to understand, and easy to find. Don’t make visitors click on five different links just to find your phone number. Here’s a great example: Marcello’s Pizza and Pasta
- Know your target customer. Not all restaurants cater to the same people. If your customers are the power lunch business crowd, use visuals that appeal to that demographic. If your customers are mainly families, then include visuals with children in a fun environment. Design a site that appeals to your target crowd.
- Flash – stay far away. Flash sites are considered dinosaurs in the web world. Websites with Flash tend to load slowly (or not at all!). Further, many people are now visiting websites on their mobile devices, some of which don’t even support Flash. While cute animations and cool page transitions might’ve looked cool in 1999, they just annoy visitors today.
- Website colors scheme. Certain colors are better than others on a website. Colors can evoke different emotions in us, and even trick our subconscious into making certain judgments. Most restaurant websites use four basic colors: brown, white, red, and black. Brown makes us think of reliability and tradition. White is often associated with purity. Red is an appetite stimulator and eye-catching color. Black is a classic color that can convey elegance, sophistication, or perhaps a touch of mystery.
- Online ordering. In today’s tech-centric world, time is an asset. Who wants to wait in a long line for their food? Give customers the option of ordering online so their food is piping hot and ready to go when they arrive, saving them time waiting in line. Ensure that if you do take online orders, your order form is easy to understand and the checkout process is seamless. Allowing customers to create their own accounts so they don’t have to enter their credit card information every time they order is also a huge convenience. It also can bring in a lot of repeat business. Example: Grey Block Pizza
- Google Maps. Are you in a hard location to find? Make finding your restaurant easy by letting customers know exactly where you are. Google Maps is easy to integrate right onto your website. This will also allow customers to get directions directly to your restaurant.
- Keep your website updated. There’s nothing worse than visiting a restaurant website that was last updated five years ago. Is the menu still correct? Has your location changed? Are you even still in business? Let customers know when your website gets an update so they know they have the most current information.
- Maintain a blog. Blogs are a powerful tool that will not only keep customers informed about what’s going on at your restaurant, but a blog will also drive visitors to your site through increased search engine visibility. You can post about everything from employee profiles to home cooking tips. Example: Ocho Mexican Grill
- Social media. Are you on Facebook and Twitter? You can put the icons for both right on your front page, allowing people to stay updated on everything going on at your restaurant. And don’t forget the “social” part of social media. Engage with people by responding to their posts. Ask questions. You’ll be surprised at the positive feedback this can generate.
- Menu. Your restaurant menu might be the most important piece of information on your website. You’ve spent years perfecting your menu, why not let your website visitors see all of your delicious dishes, not just customers already sitting at a table. Make sure the menu is easy to find and easy to read on both computers and mobile devices. And if you really want to impress people, include allergen information on the menu page. List any allergens that are in your dishes like nuts, eggs, wheat and soy. Those with food allergies will love you for it.
- A simple contact page. Sometimes a person might have a question outside of business hours. Your contact page should ask for only the most basic information like name and email address. Be sure to include a captcha so you don’t get slammed with spam. The most important part of having a contact page, however, is actually responding to the people who use it. Make it a goal to respond within 24-hours.
- Ask for emails. People subscribing to your list want to hear from you! Building an email list allows you to keep people updated on special events, new menu items and other important information about your restaurant. Keep the number of emails you send out to a minimum to avoid people unsubscribing. Also ensure you use a double opt-in system to collect emails so you stay on the right side of the CAN SPAM law. Example: Dragonfly Mandarin
Wrapping it up
Think of a website as an extension of your restaurant. Having a stylish, functional site will not only bring in new business through web searches and social media, but it will also add to your professionalism.
As a bar owner, you’re already very busy, and unless you have great design skill, it’s best to let a professional get your website up and running. The price of hiring a pro will pay dividends year after year because your site will bring in new business.