To survive the current economic upheaval, restaurants need to get more customers through their doors. Today, the first place people will look for somewhere to eat out is online and the quality of your website will play a vital role in getting those much-needed bookings. To help, here’s our recipe for a great restaurant website, with all the key ingredients we think you’ll need.
A site that works on smartphones
Today, more people use smartphones to find things on the internet than they do on laptops or tablets. Not all website themes, however, are designed to work on mobiles. If you have the wrong theme, it means your pages will be shrunk so small to fit the screen that users won’t be able to read what’s on there. Essentially, you’ll lose all those mobile customers, including those who are out and about looking for somewhere nearby to eat.
To avoid such an issue, you will need a responsive theme: one that displays information in a way that, regardless of the device, lets the user clearly see and interact with everything. For restaurants that already have a responsive theme, one thing to watch for is if, rather than having a menu page, your website sends the menu as a PDF – something restaurants that change their menu frequently tend to do. Although less hassle than creating a new menu page every now and then, the PDF might not be responsive like your website is, so phone users might struggle to see what’s on your menu.
Good photography is essential to getting bookings through your website. There are two types of photographs you need – those of the food and those of the restaurant itself. People want images of mouth-watering dishes to see the food you serve and the quality of the cooking and presentation. They also want an idea of the décor and the atmosphere as no one wants to eat in an empty or uninviting room. It’s often worth the cost of a professional photographer to ensure your dishes and restaurant look their best online.
Provide the information customers need
People looking for a suitable restaurant often have a lot of questions they need answering before making a booking. These can be about many different things: car parking, opening hours, children’s meals, food allergies, vegan and vegetarian choices, disabled access, special occasions and so forth.
Today’s internet users don’t expect to need to telephone to get the answers to these questions. They expect all the information to be easily found on the restaurant website. If it’s not, they may be reluctant to make a reservation.
The main point of having a restaurant website is to increase your bookings. The easier you make this for customers, the better. Making them call to book a table can put people off, especially if they have to leave a message and wait for you to get back and confirm the reservation. Those making a last-minute decision to eat out are highly unlikely to leave a message as they will need to secure a table quickly.
The simple but essential solution, and one most of your competitors will already have, is to add a booking engine to your website. This will automate the booking, send a confirmation email or text to your customer and ensure that you don’t overbook.
Entice future diners
Not everyone who visits your site will want to make a booking there and then, but they may be interested in coming for a different occasion. Letting customers sign up for emails so they can receive newsletters and special events information or get discounts and special offers is a great way to ensure these potential customers won’t forget about you.
Ratings and reviews
When it comes to finding a good restaurant, many customers look for proof in the pudding. Rather than take a gamble, the modern diner is far more inclined to look at your online ratings and read your reviews before making a decision. They are unlikely to book a restaurant with a low rating and even less likely to choose a venue with no ratings at all, as it can look like they have something to hide.
While most restaurants will know the importance of good ratings, what’s also important is to make sure that, besides being on Google, Trustpilot and Facebook, those reviews should also be featured prominently on your website – which you can do by embedding them from the third party site. This way, the customer can read the reviews without leaving your site, making it more likely they will book and not look elsewhere.
Fast and reliable web hosting
Your website’s success depends on the quality of the hosting that powers it. Reliability is vital to ensure your site is always available online. Ideally, you need hosting that guarantees a minimum of 99.9% uptime. You also need a website that loads and responds quickly in order to avoid user abandonment and achieve a higher Google ranking. For speed, you need a web host that provides superfast SSD storage and Intel Xeon processors in their hardware. The best solution for both speed and reliability while being highly affordable is VPS hosting.
Restaurants need a great website in order to attract new customers, provide them with all the information they need and allow them to make a booking there and then. Hopefully, the ideas suggested above will help you present your restaurant in the best way possible and serve up a smorgasbord of new customers.