If you’ve visited websites for local restaurants in your area, you’ve probably learned they are either amazing and have excellent customer experience (CX), or they are horrible and hard to navigate. What makes one site better than another?
As of September of 2020, there were approximately 101,811 chain restaurants in the United States. There are also tens of thousands not part of a larger chain. While growth was originally predicted as strong for 2021, those numbers might come down due to the pandemic and resulting economic fallout.
If you aren’t part of a chain, you’re competing against slick advertising campaigns and high-end graphic design agencies. Making sure your website meets your customers’ needs ensures they’re more likely to visit it and hopefully your establishment as well. Here are the elements you should pay attention to as you redesign your pages.
1. Include Social Sharing
Social media has changed the way people interact with one another in many ways. People love to share a great tip on a local eatery or upload their photos to their wall. Make social sharing simple by adding buttons and links to your pages.
Ask people visiting your site to engage by following you on your favorite platforms. Showcase when customers say something nice about you online. People like to feel heard and enjoy sharing new discoveries with others, so make it as easy as possible for them to talk you up on social channels.
Bresca includes links to its social media pages in the bottom left corner of the page. The links are sticky, so you see them from the minute you land on the website. They stay in the same position while you look around.
Another thing it does to stay in touch with its customers is to include a link to its email newsletter. This allows fans to stay in the know with direct messages and gives it a mailing list to market to customers.
2. Create Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)
The CTAs on your page guide your buyers through the journey. Without some sort of direction, they don’t know what action you’d like them to take. They may land on your page, only to bounce away again.
Make sure you offer direct commands and make them easy to find. Push the user into your sales funnel and watch the reservations roll in.
3. Allow Online Reservations
Speaking of reservations, many people prefer to make them online rather than phoning in. Invest in a reservation system that meshes with your website. Allow people to make their own reservations based on available time slots.
The process should be as simple as possible. Complete as many fields for them as you can. Place availability in an easy-to-view calendar. Offer alternatives if the times they want are filled up.
The Gregory allows customers to make a reservation online. When you land on its website, you see a clear CTA in the upper right corner that reads, “Make a Reservation.” There is also an option just under the fold to choose a date, time and number of people.
4. Keep the Web Address Simple
There are more than 351 million registered domain addresses. It can be difficult to find one that matches your restaurant’s name, especially if it is a somewhat common name.
However, you don’t want something so complicated that it’s difficult for diners to remember. Instead, try to simplify your domain name as much as possible. While dot com names are preferable, you may need to search outside the ordinary and go with an extension such as .pizza or .eat.
5. Make the Menu Browsable
Put yourself in the position of someone who has never eaten at your restaurant. Perhaps they are picky, or they simply want to see what options are available before visiting your establishment.
Your website should include an easy-to-browse menu. Think about the different ways people might access it through your site. Offer various options for those on mobile or desktop, and make sure smaller lettering is readable.
Green Rebel places a link to its menu in the navigation bar. It’s one of the first options you see when you land on its page. You can view the menu right there, or you can download an app it has created.
6. Focus on Food Photos
The whole point of your website is getting people to come into your restaurant. You want to show them how appetizing your dishes are, so any layout should be image-heavy. Look for designs that allow you to showcase your best dishes.
Hire a professional photographer who is experienced with shooting food. They know how to get the correct lighting and the best sheen on the dish. They will enhance colors and make your images pop.
Make Small Changes
Perhaps your website was a do-it-yourself endeavor. As your company grows, you’ll want to improve what you already have. Make small changes as your marketing budget allows, and focus on creating the best customer experience possible.
Add things such as a searchable menu and reservation system, and bring in professional photographers and designers. With a little attention, your site will bring in diners, and you’ll have more business than ever before.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.