10 Tips for Great Restaurant Website Design

10 Tips to Make Your Restaurant

Some industries are known for producing bad websites. Sadly, the restaurant industry is one of them. While restaurant chains always seem to have quality, user-friendly sites, the same is not true for independent restaurants.

Whether it is because of time demands, smaller staffs, financial concerns or something else, you can usually count on independent restaurant websites to be filled with flaws and lacking in updates. Why is that?

A lot of restaurant sites run on a platform such as Happy Tables or Restaurant Engine. Both of those providers produce decent-looking template sites but many restaurants need more than they can offer.

A Google search for “restaurants near me” should provide a wide variety of results. Because there are so many restaurants in most markets, it's important to have a standout website. It can be done.

Here are 10 excellent tips to consider when creating your restaurant website:

1. Use a Neutral Background Color

People like looking at websites and reading things on a neutral or light-color background such as white, cream or light grey. Using a brightly colored background makes it difficult to read the text because it strains your eyes to do so. Using splashes of color can be good if it fits your image, but the purpose of a website is to share information in a user-friendly manner. Stick with neutral backgrounds as your primary color.

2. Avoid a Splash Page

Splash pages contain minimal copy but feature a link that takes the visitor to the main website. That's a waste of time. Don't redirect customers & slow down the search process for customers who want to know more about your restaurant. Let them go directly to your main page without barriers. Avoid the splash page at all costs.

3. Don’t Use Unnecessary Images

Do not include full-blown images when the same effect could be achieved using HTML and CSS. Excess images on your site will slow down the loading process because it uses too much bandwidth. Save the images for impactful elements like photos of your fantastic dishes and talented staffers. Display the need-to-know essentials like physical address, phone number, and contact information in a faster-loading format to make it more user-friendly.

4. Consider Multiple Devices in Your Design

The way people browse the internet today is completely different than the way they did it years ago. Desktop computers & laptops have yielded the floor to tablets, cell phones, and other mobile devices. The next wave of technology will involve even more changes and you'll need to be ready. Make sure your website is just as easy to use on mobile devices as it is on a laptop or desktop. The importance of user-friendly mobile devices will only grow in the years to come.

5. Forget About Using PDF Menus

As a restaurant owner, your biggest selling point is your menu. Make it EASY for customers to explore it, not difficult. That means no downloading of a huge PDF file for customers to see your menu. Instead, your menu should have its own page on your website. That page, in turn, should look great and be updated on a daily basis if necessary.

6. Don’t Forget About TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is a powerful tool and a well-respected resource in the restaurant industry. In lieu of "restaurants near me" searches, many individuals turn on the TripAdvisor app and see what’s available nearby. If your restaurant isn’t active on TripAdvisor, it needs to be. Some ideas for making the maximum impact on TripAdvisor include:

  • Take professional photos and upload them to your official TripAdvisor page.
  • Reply to everyone that leaves feedback, good or bad. This shows a willingness to listen to customers and act on their feedback.

If you can show users that you’re active and you’re willing to consider their suggestions, you are miles ahead of your competition.

7. Limit Your Choice of Social Networks

Every online-savvy restaurant urges you to follow them on social media platforms. But should the focus be on Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter? Instagram? FourSquare? YouTube? The list goes on and on. How can you focus on them all? Short answer, you can’t. There’s probably less than a 1% chance that your fans will follow you across more than one or two networks.

Realize that Facebook, with more than a billion users, is the gold standard in this department. Include Facebook & and experiment with the rest. Then, narrow your field. Pick the ones that work best for your brand and forget the rest.

8. Avoid Autoplay Items ... Always!

Nothing is more annoying to the majority of visitors on your site than an autoplay video or autoplay musical interruption. There is absolutely no need to have music on your website. Video, on the other hand, is a great medium for promotion. But when you include a video option, make sure that it plays only on request, not upon page load or page exit. If the visitor wants to see your video, he or she can click the play button.

9. Post Plenty of Quality Photos

Since the advent of photography, the old adage remains unchanged: A picture is worth a thousand words. That is especially true on your website. Uploading sharp, clear images will help your website succeed, particularly in this era of retina screen displays and other technological advances. Because photography is a difference-maker online, having a professional photographer visit your restaurant and take photos is strongly advised. Key advantages include:

  • Your food will look the best it can. Professional food photographers are trained for this moment. Utilize it.
  • You’ll receive imagery you can use in multiple platforms. Not only will your website benefit, but so will your menu designs & social media efforts.
  • You’re likely to see the photographer and his/her friends back for a visit if they like your restaurant.

Forget about saving money by taking pictures on your iPhone. You’re a restaurant owner, not a professional photographer. To get the best imagery you need to hire a professional photographer with knowledge for taking great food shots.

10. Make Sure Your Brand is Present

Chain restaurants succeed because they never let their branding slip. Consumers know their logos and their websites work to reinforce their brand.

The colors of the site, or even the shape of the logo, take direct influence from the rest of the branding. The offers they have, the language they use, are ever present throughout all their branding efforts. That is a practice worth following for your independent restaurant.

Make sure that your brand isn’t just an offline thing. Think about your core values and beliefs and decide how to put your best face forward online. Then, stick to your branding efforts in everything you do.