Most Restaurant Sites Are Awful: Make Yours Better

The following is a guest post from Future Buzz community member Audrey Welch.

Restaurant owners are faced with the challenge of having a greater web presence than ever before. It isn’t enough to have a great looking store front; consumers are looking for you online and even more so, on their mobile devices.

Your restaurant business depends on many basic factors such as location, good food and a good staff. However, none of those things matter anymore if you don’t have a good site and mobile experience enticing these consumers to come to you. If your content isn’t accessible and as easy to navigate as it is informative, you are missing out on hundreds if not thousands of customers. Below are some of the best practices restaurant owners need to be aware of regarding their site.

Think of these as the new reality and not just futuristic suggestions because if you’re not currently using any of these practices then you might as well leave your ‘closed’ sign up for good.

Out with the Flash, in with the WordPress

Say-no-to-flash

Flash software is slowly becoming less and less useful as consumers are using more and more mobile devices. Flash isn’t visible on iPhones or iPads and doesn’t add any value that helps you rank higher in search engines, but the good news is that there are alternatives available. Some of these alternatives are WordPress, HTML5 and CSS3. There is a lot of information that needs to be on your website like menus, an online reservation form, events calendar and blog.

Using a Content Management system like WordPress gives you complete control that is easy for you and the consumer to use. It is easily maintained and can evolve with your business as soon as you realize you are here for the long run. Speaking of evolving, getting rid of Flash is a good start but you also need to make sure your site looks good on a mobile device (check out Google’s Go Mo initiative for an easy way to go mobile now).

Many sites also have a separate website for mobile devices, but if you choose to use Responsive Web Design Technology you only need one site. With Responsive Web Design your site will automatically format to the correct size and become touch enabled so it is usable on your Android, iPad or iPhone.

Online menus with prices – kill the PDFs

No_pdfs

PDF menus are no longer good enough because they require the user to download, wait, zoom, and try to read. They’re also slow (and a pain) to open. Your website needs an individual menu page with a nicely laid out format including descriptions, pictures and, most importantly, prices! The prices on a menu have a great impact on the consumers dining decision so it is important to make this clear.

Menu(s) are important because people like to see if you offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maybe they are just interested in your dessert selection or perhaps they would just like to come for drinks and appetizers. Whatever your menu selection, make sure it is easy to navigate and that each item includes a price. People like to know what to expect when they are dining out and a detailed menu provides just that.

Add a Photo Gallery

sushiritto

Sushiritto in San Francisco brings their delicious and unique food to life on their website.

Even though you have great pictures of your food and drink selections on your menu people like to see pictures of your restaurant and cuisine as well. People like to see pictures of your friendly staff and others dining, enjoying themselves and just having a good time at your restaurant. If you have events at your restaurant be sure to include these pictures on your site too. These pictures give consumers a feel for your atmosphere and again help them know what to expect when they walk in.

A full gallery page can have anywhere from 10 to 30 updated pictures. It is important not to have an overwhelming amount of pictures because they could have a hard time finding what they are looking for fast enough and lose interest.

Contact information is key

When people visit your website they are usually only looking for a few key pieces of information like location/directions, hours, and food options. They should quickly be able to see the location and hours on your homepage. People need this information to get to your restaurant. Make sure you have the address on your site in a text format that can be copied and pasted.

Users also need to be able to call and speak to a person because they just have a question or two that they don’t want to search your website for. If they cannot find your phone number they will move on to another restaurant with a phone number they can find. For this reason, make sure your phone number is found prominently on the home page as well as every interior page. Also be sure and track mobile conversions like click-to-call and ensure you’re marketing your contact information in key places (i.e. be sure and add your site to Google Places).

This article was written by Future Buzz community member Audrey Welch who works with the Wand Corp., a Restaurant Management solutions company.