Recently, I got an email from a restaurant I frequent, asking me to look at their new menu. Interested, I clicked through, only to find I was not on the menu page—I had to click twice more to get to the new menu, only to find it was a pdf that was now downloading on my phone! Argh! This is not what I wanted! At this point, I was extremely annoyed and ready to vow to never go back to this place again! (Okay, maybe not quite that, but these types of annoyances can drive away loyal customers.) Sadly, this was a national chain that should have known better. So, how can you build a better restaurant website that keeps your customers happy and helps bring in new business?
Ideas for a Better Restaurant Website
You should never have a downloadable menu as the only option. Customers come to your website to get information, don’t make them jump through hoops for it. The best option is to have all the menu items written out on the page. Yes, this is more work for you to maintain, but it provides the best experience for your customers, plus, it makes your menu searchable, allowing more people to find you and your delicious food! As a bonus, you can also include a downloadable menu in case someone is planning an event and wants to share your menu with others, but that should never be the only option.
Yes! People want to know what to expect and if they are not sure, may decide on something else. Check out this site for an example of how this can look. Make sure you include a disclaimer that prices are subject to change, in case you change your prices and forget to update the website (but, don’t do that! Make it part of your process to update your website when you update your print menus).
Make sure your hours of operation, address (with clickable map), and phone number (with clickable number) are on every page on your restaurant website. This is easily achieved by putting this information in to the header or footer.
Include professional photos of your location and food. This is a worthwhile investment that can result in increased business. Please note the use of the word professional! Well shot images with good lighting make all the difference. This article gives more info on the value of professional photography.
Make it easy, easy, easy for people to find your menu, hours of operation, address and phone number. Often people are on their phones while driving trying to find this information. Don’t make them search or have to click repeatedly to get to this information. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to show up at your door.
Make sure you claim social media locations for your restaurant.. This includes places like Yelp, Facebook, and Trip Advisor (there are many others.) Most of these sites will create listings for your business whether you want them to or not. You need to claim them and associate your email with them so that you can monitor and respond to reviews.
Monitor and respond to reviews on social media! Yes, I know the previous bullet kind of said this, but it deserves two bullets. Claim the sites, then make sure you stay on top of them. You need to both thank your fans for their positive reviews and respond to negative reviews. It is astonishing how much damage just a few negative reviews can do (even if there are numerous positive ones.) By responding, you have the opportunity to make things right with those who have a legitimate complaint (and possibly get them to change their review), and also to clear up misconceptions left by someone who has a grudge. The worst thing you can do is ignore them. Read this great article on how to appropriately respond.
Yes, you should add SSL to your site (SSL is what gives you the HTPPS designation when people come to your site). You can read this article to see why this is important (this applies to all websites, not just restaurant websites.)
These are just a few ideas to help you build a better restaurant website and use social media to help improve your business. There are others depending upon what kind of additional activities or amenities you offer (such as providing info about WiFi, or children’s play areas, or whether you are dog-friendly.) Hopefully this article will give you some ideas of how to make improvements that will help your restaurant business. Remember, the primary purpose of a website is to provide information that is easily accessible. Make sure yours puts its best foot forward!