When you search for the term “restaurant website design” in any of the major search engines, you will come up with two types of results. The first will be companies offering to sell you a restaurant website of varying quality at a wide range of prices. The second and more prominent set of results will be articles complaining about how awful most restaurant websites are. These complaints have become increasingly prevalent online and commentators wonder why so few restaurants build websites that enhances the guest experience. That is why I have designed a list of questions to help you evaluate your restaurant website.
Having spent most of my career in the restaurant industry, as well as having designed a number of websites’ gives me a unique perspective on this issue. I understand that designing a high quality website is not something that most restaurant owners have been trained to do. This is something they will generally outsource to a website designer who knows very little about the restaurant industry. A lack of understanding often prevents both parties from creating the best restaurant website design to enhance the guest experience and effectively promote the restaurant. The result is an under functioning website that fails to provide much value to restaurant owners or potential guests.
Here are a few questions to ask about your restaurant website design to determine if it is producing the results you need:
1) Where does your restaurant website rank in Google? Type in your city and the type of cuisine you serve into the search bar on Google and hit enter. If your restaurant website does not show up on the first page of results, your website is underperforming. This can be due to how the site was written or external factors which can be corrected. Regardless of the reason, your restaurant website design company should address search engine optimization to boost your ranking in Google. Potential guests will often choose a competitor on the first page of Google results before even finding your website on subsequent pages.
2) How does your restaurant website design look on a smart phone? Use a smart phone to find your website and look at the results. If it is slow to load, fails to load, or is in font too small to read, then you are losing potential guests. A growing number of searches are being performed on smart phones and this trend will only continue. It is vital that your restaurant website looks good and loads quickly on a smart phone.
3) How long does it take to find the basic information? Your restaurant website should feature the address, phone number, and hours of operation on the front page. This should be presented in HTML rather than flash or as a graphic. An easy way to check this is to try to copy and paste this information. If you cannot copy it, a search engine generally cannot read it. This can be devastating to your search engine ranking and incredibly frustrating to your guests.
4) When was it updated? If you restaurant holds special events, limited time promotions, or receives any kind of publicity, this should be added to your restaurant. While sharing this information on social media is highly advised, the best way to do so is from your website. This means that you should maintain the ability to update your website to promote these events. Whether you are adding the information in house or paying a monthly fee for updates, you need to make sure a procedure is in place for updates.
The real key to all of these questions is objectivity. I know some of the answers might be tough to accept. Each of these four issues has the potential to guide guests to your restaurant or to one of your competitors. The internet is the single biggest source of restaurant recommendations for potential guests. Your website should be designed to encourage guests to trust you with their dining dollars. Providing them with a restaurant website that makes finding you simple and enhances their experience is one of the most powerful parts of a successful restaurant marketing plan.