Not long ago a very interesting thread on the forum reddit came up discussing a restaurant website. The thread title was “To the people who design websites for restaurants” and it was followed by the above image. The thread received over 7000 upvotes on a sub-reddit with over 4 million subscribers.
The comments in the thread speak a lot of truth when it comes to restaurant web design. After browsing through them, they can essentially be summed in the following
It's All About the Information
Get straight to the point, people are coming to your website to see your menu, basic information and in this day and age, potentially order online or make a booking. Everything else is secondary, this includes about us pages, meet the team, news and more.
Certain Information is More Important
In regards to information, the most important are your address, phone number, email, opening hours and any other important information related to your business such as whether you deliver, any additional costs, etc. Aside from this letting people know your promotions and specials is also a great idea.
Make Your Menus Easy to Access
PDF menus are not ideal, they require you to download files and open them up on an external tab or program. Even worse is when these menus are split apart into multiple files. Too many restaurant websites do this when even just typing out your menu onto a blank screen would probably be better and more accessible.
Avoid Pages Requiring Updates
Avoid news pages, portfolio pages and generally pages that require regular updates unless you plan to update them regularly. You cannot sell people with these pages if there is outdated content, it simply looks bad. Once again, a huge amount of restaurant websites have these useless pages.
Pictures Are Loved
Pictures! Everyone wants to see what they are going to eat. Without knowing exactly what you are ordering, it feels like taking a stab in the dark unless you are very familiar with the dish. Delicious pictures of your food will sell themselves. Also, take professional looking photos, most modern phones do this well, but avoid flash faded and washed out images. It's not hard to get someone to take a photo of a dish every time it's prepared.
Always Show Your Prices
Prices on the menu, if you are not doing this, chances are you are annoying several people. Without prices on the menu, you open yourself to customers feeling uncertain about what to expect when they dine with you. This is only going to be detrimental to your business. At the end of the day people are going to see your prices in your store. It's unlikely that anyone is going to be more convinced to come with prices not on your menu
Avoid intrusive animations, background music etc.
Avoid anything gimmicky, that includes background noises, intrusive animations and simply anything that gets in the way of information accessibility. Too many sites have focused more on design and cheap animations before their content. This can only make critical information that much harder to access. This is above all one of the biggest complaints from users
Make Sure You Actually Have A Site
Avoid using Facebook as your website, yes you can upload pictures of your menu, but it's not easy to find and if you post often which you should be, this will leave customers struggling to find important information. Social media is there for you to update your customers on what's happening and generate more interest. While it does act as a slight website replacement, your own website will do far better.
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly
You've probably heard it a million times, more and more users are using the web on their small devices. If your website does not display well on a mobile device, you will lose some customers and google will also rank you lower.
Allow Customers New Ways to Interact With Your Store
As we enter a more technological age, customers are also looking for new ways to interact with your business, these include ordering online, reserving a table online and more. Integrating such systems can lead to greater sales and better business management.
This is all further reinforced by theOatMeal's great comic.
So, What Does It Take to Have a Great Restaurant Website?
First let's sum up who's going to come to your site. There are generally 2 main types of people who are going to come or be looking for your site. People could already know your business and be searching directly for you. Maybe they want more information, to know what you serve, opening hours etc. Or those who are near your restaurant and are looking for something to eat. Google, Zomato and other search engines will often help their users find venues that are near them. This is how new customers can discover you even if they haven't seen you personally before.
What Is the Goal of A Restaurant Website?
From a customer perspective, the purpose of the restaurant website is to provide important information about the venue and provide traditional restaurant functionality online such as bookings, orders etc. If the customer has not heard of your previously, they are likely to want to see your menu and location above all. If it's someone who's already familiar with your business, it's likely they want extra information such as opening times, contact details, specials and the ability to order online or book a table.
From a business perspective, the goal must be to acquire new customers and entice new and existing customers to come and place an order at your venue.
How Even A Very Simple Website Can Get The Job Done
Here is another relatively popular reddit thread discussing a Chinese restaurant website that is nothing more than one big image. While this is less the ideal, most people have commented saying how this simple image site is better than most because the most important information is right there without having to search for it.
To conclude on this topic, it's quite simple, do what your customers want! The people have spoken on this topic and above all, they want convenience. They come to your website to access your most important information, namely your contact details, location, menu and any other functionality such as online ordering, deliveries and bookings. If you focus on making this information as accessible as possible, then your customers will be satisfied.
What do we mean by accessible? Users must be able to easily access your content without restrictions. Do not focus on design and aesthetics in a way that hinders customers from finding your information, only enhance it. Do not have a flash site or non-responsive site that is hard to navigate on mobiles. Do not have PDF menu's. Do not have background music. All these are restrictions and distract from the main purpose. Simply focus on the most important information and make it as accessible as possible. Once that is done, then you can layer your style on top of it.
If you do this, then you will have a great foundation for a website that your customers will appreciate.
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