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7 Must-Have features for restaurant websites

29 Mar
When consumers are looking for a place to eat, will your website convince them your restaurant is the one?

Competition for dining dollars is crazy out there. Consumers have so many choices of where to eat, and they don’t want to make a decision that they’ll regret. Quite often they’ll go online to check out a restaurant that’s new to them. This is your chance to sell them on the idea that they’ll have a wonderful time eating at your place. If your website falls short in any way, they’ll continue their search elsewhere. To prevent that, make sure your restaurant’s web presence contains the following elements:

Great photography. The No. 1 reason customers select a restaurant is not the food – it’s the ambiance, according to a recent study by Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. That’s why your website must have beautiful images of not only food, but also the decor. Do not skimp on great photography. If someone on your staff can’t take beautiful images, hire a professional. Many of your customers, particularly the younger ones, are taking photos of your food and posting them online. A lot of those photos don’t do your food or restaurant interior justice. Showing people how great your food and place really look is simply a smart move.

Showcase your menu. If beautiful online photos of your restaurant and food capture the attention of potential customers, they’re likely going to check out your menu next. It’s surprising how many restaurants make one hunt for a menu or, worse yet, don’t have it posted. You don’t want to give a potential customer a reason to leave your site and search elsewhere. Make sure your web design includes an easy-to-find link to your menu. And once a customer clicks on the link, a menu should be easily readable and regularly updated.

Virginia's website (http://www.virginiasnyc.com/) features an easy to find menu updated regularly.

Virginia’s website features an easy to find menu updated regularly.

 

Online ordering. If your website doesn’t allow customers to order food online with either their cell phone or computer, you’ll lose out. Customers should be able to get from your menu to placing their order in just a few taps. Squarespace allows you to add a ChowNow, OpenTable and/or Google Map block directly onto your website, so that customers can place an order, make a reservation and find directions without leaving your site. When you add an ordering system like ChowNow onto your website, customers can purchase food for delivery or pick up directly from their phones or computers. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Carefree reservations. Let’s say potential customers have come to your site and have been wildly impressed with photos of your restaurant and your food. They also found your menu easily and they like what they see. How foolish would it be if they had to leave your website to make a reservation? But if you have a reservation system like OpenTable built directly into your site, customers will stay put to book a table on the spot. Do you see a pattern developing here? It’s all about making it as easy as possible for customers to fall in love with your place and book a reservation. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve done well.

Pok Pok (http://www.pokpokpdx.com) gives customers the ability to easily make reservations by incorporating OpenTable directly into their website.

Pok Pok gives customers the ability to easily make reservations by incorporating OpenTable directly into their website.

 

Contact info and directions. Okay, now somebody has booked a reservation. Make it easy for them to find your restaurant. Your website should list all pertinent information, including the address, phone number, parking info, whether you have valet service and other information that makes it painless for customers to reach your restaurant. An embedded Google Map of your location is a huge plus for customers seeking directions and relieves your staff from having to give directions over the phone.

Social media. The millennial generation numbers some 78 million people, which makes it a powerful buying group, according to Statista. Couple that with the fact that 93 percent of millennials use social media, and it’s clear that your website should allow this group and others to connect with you through all avenues of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Be sure to link your social media accounts to your website, and to include your website URL on all your social accounts. Squarespace makes it easy to do just that.

Ease of use. Your job is to make people happy and comfortable in your restaurant and with your food. Designing a website is not likely to be a part of your skill set. The good news is that you no longer have to hire a high-end web designer to do it for you. Companies like Squarespace can provide restaurants with easy-to-use templates in order to create a web presence that speaks loud and clear. They also connect you with the key players mentioned above (Google Maps, etc.) to connect your restaurant to current and future customers on multiple levels.

Consumers have so many restaurant choices. A smart, beautifully designed website will sell them on the idea that visiting your restaurant is a bet that they want to make.

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