Get a large mug of coffee and brace yourself for a guidebook that you will be forced to bookmark. Dining out with families or friends has jumped up exponentially with the growth of working eggheads. And all of us are aware of the reach of Internet in our day-to-day lives. It is this reach of Internet into the life of customers that has forced restaurants to rethink their online strategies. I won’t be surprised to see a restaurant with its own social media marketing team. After all we proudly spend more time on social media instead of sitting down with our families and watching T.V. Anyways, let us leave the social media debate for some other day.
Today, we are here to ripoff the restaurant website design trends and make sure that this guide will be all that you will need if you plan to have your next restaurant website design. I will present with every possible details and resources that a webmaster would require while kicking-off the next restaurant website design. So, gear up!
As I indicated before, this is going to be a lengthy article. So, here is a quick Table of Contents so that you are on track all the time:
- Why are Restaurant Websites Scary?
- Astonishing Statistics.
- Your Own Jaw Dropping Design!
- Single Page Restaurant Designs.
- Restaurant Website Builders.
- Awards for the Best Restaurant Websites.
Who would want to see the photograph of a chef on the home page of a restaurant website? Are you, as a customer, interested to know how the staff of a restaurant looks like? Of course not! We jump onto a restaurant website to find out the menu of the restaurant, get an idea of the ambiance of that restaurant, the prices, location and similar features. Who wants to know if the chef of a restaurant can give good autographs?
Visitors can tolerate a website that has not been designed for over 5 years if the current layout is already helping them find out what they are looking for.
Facts (that should be strictly ignored) that a usual restaurant website shouts out loud to its visitors:
- How the chef sniffs the oil.
- How they hire their staff.
- How the surroundings of the restaurant better than the restaurant.
- How the manager is the most friendly human being on this planet.
- Hot models (tagged as customers) busy stuffing food into each other’s faces.
- A letter from the owner that no one ever wants to read.
- Address or phone number is present in flash format so you cannot copy it.
- A soothing background music on the website that plays forever usually forcing the visitor to fall asleep.
Facts (that should be pushed on the website) that are usually ignored on restaurant websites:
- The menu in detail.
- The price.
- Ongoing offers.
- Original (and latest) photographs.
- The location (with a link to Google maps).
- The timings.
- Parking information.
- Advance booking options (that works).
Do you understand what I want you to understand? Restaurant websites try their best to look “cool” and in between all this they tend to forget whatever their website visitors are looking for.
Website visitors look for information NOT for flash. They want to know how your restaurant looks like not how your chef looks like. Show some sense, please!
To start with I will let the numbers do the talking. In no time you will understand how restaurants are leveraging on the advantages of a website and how there is still more room for improvement:
- Founder of Happy Tables reveals the importance of mobile optimization and the percentage of visits that restaurant websites get from such mobile devices.
- According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing delivers a $51.45 return on investment (ROI) for every marketing dollar spent.
- Consumers from North East and Pacific Coast between the age of 25 to 45 are said to take lead in researching a restaurant online before opting for the same.
- A research done by Palore explains the percentage of restaurants that have a website as per various major cities. Boston with 33% leads the chart.
- Over one third consumers prefer to read online reviews before opting for a restaurant.
- Around 50% of consumers use search engine to find a restaurant. (via AIS Media)
- Around one third of the consumers want pricing to be precisely correct on restaurant websites. (via )
Enough text to prove the fact that the restaurant website designs of today are lacking that spark which will twinkle in the eyes of the visitor the moment the website opens. Now, I will list down some of the imperative pointers that must be taken care of while working on a restaurant website design. Read these carefully. These pointers can make or break your restaurant website design!
- Turn OFF the background music – Oh please! I know your taste in music is simply awesome but do you realize that it might not match with the rest of your visitors? Moreover, a customer has the privilege to request music change but the same visitor when on a website might not enjoy that privilege. Please don’t plan a turn off for your visitors.
- Say NO to Flash - I am in no mood to discuss the future of Flash but I guess we are all on the same page when it comes to the various issues that are the reason why flash-based websites don’t work? Flash might be awesome but not when it crosses that “subtle” line.
- No PDF menus please - Why do you even need to upload a PDF menu? Users come to your website for instant information. Asking them to download a 20 MB PDF menu is simply kicking them off. If you really want to upload your PDF menu then leave an option for users. They will check the web-based menu and if they require a copy then they can download the PDF version. Also, please make sure that the size of the PDF file is optimized. Most of your customers might still be on limited dial-up connections. Here are some amazing menu designs for your next restaurant website.
- Reduce the required number of clicks - Do you really think that your visitors have the time to click five times before they are delivered with the information that they are looking for? Really? If the answer was yes then you haven’t yet understood your readers, seriously!
- Optimize the design for mobile - You will be shocked to know that half of your website visitors might be visiting your website using their smartphone. Have you ever tried to visit your own website using various phones? You will be shocked (again) to see how broken your designs are when viewed on phone browsers. Do something! Get a glossy looking mobile version for your website.
- Display original ambiance in your photographs - Imagine if the first impression of your restaurant’s visitor will be – This is not like they show in their photographs. Do you want your visitors to feel cheated? Get some real photographs that display the real ambiance of your restaurant. And, if the photographs display a dull ambiance then there is something wrong with your ambiance! Check the restaurant website photography tutorial at DPS.
- Don’t make the food look delicious in photographs when it actually isn’t - This is the most important pointer. I have ordered food by the looks of it and later on felt cheated because the delivered item never looked like it was shown in photographs. Why do you want the food to look attractive when it really isn’t? Get some real photographs, will you? Here are some food photography tips for you.
- Clearly display payment options - It will be easy for your customers if you tell them in advance if you do or do not (which is rare) accept credit cards. Let them know about every possible payment option that you can boast of but don’t fake it, please!
- Restaurant timings must be displayed - Let the visitors know what all are the restaurant and for how many hours can you stretch after the closing time.
- Smoking area availability - Those who smoke can’t live without one. If you have a smoking area then do let your website visitors know that you have one.
- Drinks permitted or not - Your visitors must be made well aware if you allow alcohol or not.
- Link to Google Maps and smartly use Google Places - From your contact section a link to Google Maps must be displayed. Let this be more easily accessible in your mobile versions as mobile visitors are the ones who look for instant location information.
- Display your social media buttons - Let your visitors RT your appetizing menu and LIKE your offers. Why miss out on the social media reach?
- SEO your website but don’t overdo it - Search Engine Optimization is important for every website. Make sure that your restaurant website design is search engine friendly but make sure that you don’t overdo the same and incur Google’s penalty.
- Show off the reviews (and stars) received on various websites - Users leave star based ratings on various websites for different restaurants. Keep a track of such websites and if you find that you have been rated positively then don’t forget to show off the same on your restaurant website. Make sure that you give preference to the likes of Amazon.
Single page website designs have really been doing rounds lately and the restaurant industry is untouched. Here, I will list down seven amazing single page restaurant website designs for your inspiration. Explore the option of single page website designs.
Now that we done a lot of talking about restaurant websites and we know who are the best in business, I guess it is time to take the first step into this world of restaurant website design. So, here I have collected some of the restaurant website builder tools and applications that will make your first restaurant website design caravan exciting. And, be rest assured that the end results will be jaw dropping if you stick around without losing hope.
Although there are hundreds of website builders out there but why use any website builder when you have niche specific restaurant website design builders at your service?
Gear up and let us know if you are using any other service. We love to explore ..
- Culini - Culini helps you make professional looking restaurant website designs in no time. The website is straightforward in its vision and gives away all the necessary information without any terms and conditions. Sign up if you are looking for a quick restaurant website.
- Let’s Eat - Let’s Eat is a free restaurant website design builder which targets restaurant owners who cannot (or don’t want to) afford a professional restaurant website designer. The free version will be ad-supported while the pro version will come with a nominal fee which can be afforded by any restaurant owner. The application will take you through a series of steps and will collect a lot of information before they come up with a basic looking design for your restaurant website. The app even creates a page for customers to reserve seats in advance.
- Site Savor - Site Savor makes it super easy for anyone to come up with a restaurant website design. In no time you will be done with your restaurant website design which will bask in glory of various templates that are loaded in Site Savor archives. Go, have some fun building your own restaurant website.
- Bistro Square - Bistro Square helps you come up with your own website design in no time. It won’t test your programming skills and will push in an extra calendar feature for special events. Features like online coupon builder, mobile version of your website and multiple templates to choose from helps Bistro Square stand out from the rest.
- Honey Sites - The cheap restaurant website design builder for those who want plush websites. One might find the pricing of this service a bit over the top but with the kind of service and their own design, I guess they deserve one chance. After all, honey can make any food divine.
- – Here is one service that caters to your mobile needs only. Chomp Stack helps a restaurant website to be available on a mobile device without looking weird. They offer plenty of services like GPS location finder, social media integration, custom currency, menu translation in various languages, mobile redirection and a smart control panel. All in all Chomp Stack is one service that you can try if you are looking for mobile compatibility.
Before we move on, I think we should go through some of the best judged restaurant websites out there. I agree that there is nothing like authentic awards system on the Internet but there are few that can be used for a rough analysis of what is happening on the Internet. I will list down best restaurant website award given by Web Award.
NOTE – I don’t want you to go through the authenticity of Web Award and I don’t want you to criticize their judging system. Rather, I want you to see the patter of evolution in the restaurant website design in past 7 years. See, how things have changed and what still needs to be changed.
- 2005 – Johnny Rockets - Colors take lead in the year 2005. The design of this website clearly shows how the choice of colors helped the website stay attractive without giving up on the looks of the website. See how the website has given up on the header and still the setup has worked out well? Although, I don’t see prices in their menu page but that is just one downside.
- 2006 – Montage Studio - Yes! Minimalism had started to creep in by the year 2006 and soon after it became trendy. This website displayed a very basic image that merged with the brown colored theme of the website design. The ambiance of the restaurant was clearly visible on the website and there was enough information to drive the visitor crazy. Although, it will make it a bit difficult for you to find the exact menu and the prices but then this restaurant isn’t for the average middle class (at least by the looks of it).
- 2007 – Mr. Broadway Kosher - The year when restaurant website design was hanging between minimalism and crappy designs. This website simply proves that the designers tried to come up with a minimal design that does not pop out of the screen. The information is there and the website is there. Basically, this design might fulfill almost all the user needs yet it will fail to create the charm that will make the user fall in love with the restaurant.
- 2008 – Four - Minimalism takes another step towards actual minimalism. Four was another landmark in the era of restaurant website design although it did not server all the purposes. You might be confused as to what I am trying to convey here. What are the pointers that these websites are missing. Well, just hold on. We will discuss that very soon.
- 2009 – Famous Dave’s BBQ - Ah! That era of eye popping flash website design. It was this time when website designers were running behind flash like never before. Everyone wanted a piece of flash as it had become very easy to design stuff in flash. All in all the website conveyed the message and was attractive.
- 2010 – Red Robin - Professionalism had started to become part of website designs by now. Red Robin is the perfect example of professional website design with perfect use of colors and perfect delivery of information that customers look for. The menu, logos, images and everything else was so perfectly placed. Nothing was out of order. This website can well be tagged as the perfectly professional restaurant website design.
- 2011 – Bull and Bear - The web had become more professional by now. They had started to understand how a background image can be used to style your website without giving the website that creepy look. Bull and Bear is the perfect example of using the background image perfectly to show off the classy looking restaurant without any issues whatsoever. It doesn’t hurt the eye and carries almost every information that a customer would want.
Did you notice that each of these award winning websites had something or the other missing. The fact is that people do not realize that the basic requirements of a restaurant website design are the very basic pointers that I mentioned in the first section of this article. Everything flashy is just secondary and really not that important.
Salman Siddiqui is an alpha geek, design guru and seasoned WordPress critic. Writing, for him, started out of ego but it has become the most luring and enlightening career option of his life. He is walking that extra mile for his freelancing dream.