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July 18, 2015

Website Design Tips for Restaurateurs

The interior of a nice restaurant
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
With 45% of consumers choosing where to eat before leaving home and 30% of restaurant searches being done on mobile devices, it’s critical for a restaurant website to be well-designed and responsive. Unfortunately, many of these websites don’t quite fit the bill.

Just as ambiance and great service are hallmarks to the success of your business, so is your web presence. Creating a usable, useful and desirable online experience that drives diners offline and into your doors is paramount. Is your website ready for prime time?  Here are five tips to consider in opening your digital front of the house for business.

1. Let’s Get Visible

Have you searched for the name of your restaurant? Do you show up in search engine results? How are you ranked? When consumers are searching for your business and can’t find you, that’s a missed opportunity for conversion. How do you resolve that? Be sure that the content on your website is html based, making it indexable by search engines. And don’t forget to include relevant keywords and search terms in your content, headlines and in tags. Organic search drives unique visitors, grows page views, and increases awareness; leverage it and reap the benefits.

2. Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words

The old adage is true. People are innately visual and respond positively to evocative imagery. To convey the character of your business and entice consumers to experience it for themselves, showcase your photos and videos. Quality lighting, engaging shots and clear visuals are invaluable to recreating the ambiance of your establishment. Likewise, alluring photos of cuisine and beverages help stimulate the senses, and can be a very persuasive motivator in turning website visitors into actual customers.

3. A “Flash” in the Pan

Flash was great when introduced in 1996, but times have changed and so has technology. In the past, mobile web browsers were rudimentary at best, internet connectivity crawled and desktops were the main devices in which we viewed websites.  Fast forward to today where 56% of the US population uses a mobile device to access the internet and where high speed connectivity is commonplace – we’ve taken our web consumption to-go. Websites now need to be fast, simple and accessible. If your site is built in Flash, you may be seeing a significant bounce rate, as consumers are turning away, unable to see your content. Say no to Flash and say yes to HTML5.  Not only is it supported by a majority of devices and browsers, but it also enables an uncomplicated way to update your website on the fly, saving you valuable time.

4. What’s Cookin’?

While it may seem like an easy and effortless way to display your menu online, PDFs do more harm than good and viewing them on a mobile device is beyond frustrating. Instead, use html text based menus to create a better end user experience and take advantage of the SEO equity the garner. Remember, there’s a sense of urgency to find information quickly on a mobile device. Quick access to menus is every bit as important as contact information, hours of operation and photos; it’s key to the decision making process and can often determine whether or not a potential patron will visit your establishment.  

5. Content is King

Relationship building and customer service is just as important to your business’ physical presence as it is to your online presence. Loyalty develops from transparency, engagement and fostering an open and continuous dialog with consumers. That said, creating interesting and timely content to place on your website can be the catalyst to developing that special connection with patrons.  Whether you publicize your upcoming events, showcase your employees, feature unique dishes, highlight dining reviews, etc., you want to give visitors a reason to keep coming back and engaging with you. And don’t forget to promote your social media channels, it's a great way to not only build a loyal community, but it’s also a valuable means of acquiring feedback and responding directly to your patrons. Consider it your digital comment card.

Sources:
Most Restaurant-Goers Relay on Online Reviews - Mashable Infogration, Mobile Path to Purchase Study - Google Internal Data 2011, xAd/Telmetrics/Nielsen - October 2012, Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project - Summer Tracking Survey August 7-Sept 6, 2012
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