What makes a good restaurant website?

Restaurant at night without people.

If you run a restaurant or cafe, your website should be one of the most important tools you have to get found and booked by patrons… but what makes a good restaurant website?

While restaurants come in many different shapes and sizes, the key factors that make a restaurant or cafe website successful are the same. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of a customer, think through the key things your website needs and have an easy way for people to book.

One of the most important factors by far is thinking like a customer, and ensuring the key things users are looking for are easy to get to on your website.

Thinking like a customer

Something that is important for any website is to think like your current or potential customers. For restaurant websites, this is especially important – and a lot of the time it means keeping your website simple and making the key things people are looking for are super easy to find to.

While restaurant websites can sometimes be large and cover off on a lot of information, often the best ones just focus on the few key things customers need.

At the most basic level, here’s what is important to users:

  • Restaurant location
  • The menu(s)
  • Contact or booking details

Restaurant location

The first key detail customers (and search engines) are looking for is where is your restaurant located? Make sure your address is clearly displayed, and ensure that the location is included in text and headings on the page.

It’s often useful to include a map so users can see exactly where the restaurant is. If you have a good quality photo of the front of the restaurant this is also worth including so it makes you easy to find and recognise. 

Another often overlooked part of the location is including other information diners will need to get there. What would you tell someone to help them find the restaurant… Where is the best parking? What’s it near?

The menu

Not many people will consider dining at a restaurant or cafe unless they can preview the menu and know that the food options and prices are what they’re looking for.

Making your menus easy to find and very prominent on your website should be a key focus – a lot of the time this means putting them ‘above the fold’, so that a link to the menu is available without having to scroll.

Make sure to include all the menus relevant for your restaurant. Depending on your restaurant, this could be any of the following… dinner, lunch, a la carte, drinks, cocktail, banquet, dessert etc.

In terms of how to include your menus, this does depend a bit on your restaurant and how many different menus you offer. You can either include your menu items on your website, or simply link to a PDF of your menu.

Either works, but in most cases linking to a PDF can be a better option here. It involves less scrolling which can become an issue for large menus, but more importantly it can be a lot easier to update in the future. As prices and menus change, it is significantly quicker to update a single PDF than have to rebuild your entire menu.

Contact or booking details

If you’ve included your location, and menu on your website then the next thing you need to easily and clearly communicate to customers is how to contact you or book a table.

Make your contact details easy to find and prominent so users don’t have to go looking for how to get in touch. Be sure to include opening hours so users know when they can call, and have a contact form for general enquiries outside your opening hours.

If you’re using a reservations or booking platform like Open Table, NowBookIt or similar, then this should be always be featured on your website alongside the contact details. Including a link to this booking system should also always be setup as a button in your main menu.

What makes a cafe or restaurant website successful?

As well as thinking like a user and ensuring you make the key information easy for users to find, there are some other factors that are really important to consider in having a successful restaurant website.

Strong branding

Any website should reflect your businesses’ brand, and this is especially true for restaurant websites. While branding is important for any business, restaurants have a greater and more important opportunity to tie in with their style of food, be more creative and showcase a strong brand.

Beautiful photos

Food is visual. It’s so important to have some high quality photos of your food, and the restaurant to showcase on your website. These are something that you should invest in, as they are absolutely invaluable for your website, but can also be showcases on social media, your Google Business profile, and any other directory listings or profiles your restaurant or cafe has online.

If you can, find a photographer that specialises in food, and can show you some examples of work they have done in the past. Include a variety of different photos so you have a library of quality photos to use for the future. Here are some ideas:

  • Close ups of food 
  • Wider shots of meals & tables
  • Photos of people dining
  • Photos of cocktails or drinks
  • Atmosphere photos of the restaurant
  • Photos of the chef / owners
  • Function room / private room area  (if applicable)

Up-to-date information

There is nothing more frustrating than having out of date information on your website, so it’s important to make a plan for keeping your website up to date. If your opening hours or days change, make sure this is reflected on your website so people aren’t getting the wrong information.

As your menu changes over time, ensure the menu and pricing are updated on your website. Sometimes a single dish can lure someone in, and if that’s not on the menu anymore it’s a poor experience for a patron.

How to take restaurant bookings?

Taking bookings is going to be the main goal for pretty much every restaurant, but there are a few different ways you can set this up on your website. Which of these is right for you is going to depend on your restaurant and your normal booking process.

Here are a few methods to consider:

  • Phone bookings only
  • Enquiry form with a manual confirmation
  • Online booking platform like OpenTable or NowBookIt

Whichever method you choose – make it as easy as possible, and be clear and concise with the process. Each of these methods has pros and cons, so choose the options that fit in best with your current process and needs.

Can I just use Facebook, Instagram or a Google Business Profile instead of a restaurant website?

There are lots of restaurants or cafes that don’t have a website, and instead rely purely on a Facebook, Instagram or their Google profile instead. This isn’t a good idea, and could be losing your business without knowing it, and could cause a big issue in the future.

Getting found

A website helps make your restaurant or cafe more visible online. Without one, your business is less visible in search results. This really matters in the restaurant industry where it’s so competitive and any competitive advantage makes a difference.

Ownership and control

Who really owns your business profile on Facebook or Instagram? The hard truth is that the platform does, and ultimately they have control. At worst your profile could be shutdown or you could be locked out, which is something that can always happen and is probably more likely than you think. You also have to consider the audience on social platforms, how easily you can reach and communicate with this audience is dictated by the platform. Algorithm changes or policy changes can mean it can be hard to reach audiences effectively.

Credibility and trust

A website makes your restaurant look legitimate, credible and builds trust with potential diners. By not having a website, a significant amount of users will just move on to the next business that does. If you have a low quality website that has is slow, has issues or out of date information, then  again you will lose credibility and trust with users, and they will end up at your competition.

Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms are a huge part of promoting and getting your business found by users, so these are definitely worth using. But this should be done in combination with a great website, so your restaurant or cafe gets the best of both worlds in terms of visibility, credibility and utility.

Closing thoughts

A great website for your restaurant or cafe doesn’t have to be huge, expensive or fancy to get results. It does need to be there however, and make it easy for users to evaluate your business and food, and get the key information they need to book or find your restaurant.

If you want help creating a great restaurant website for your business, contact us today to learn more about how a new website could help your restaurant or cafe succeed.

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