Does a Restaurant’s Website Really Matter?

In How Things Work, The Design Processby Mark Douglass

Isn’t it really just about the food? Your restaurant’s website matters now more than ever. Here are a few things to consider.

Remember the last time you were looking for a new restaurant? Perhaps you were in an unfamiliar part of town and looking to your smart-phone search engine like it was channeling the late great Anthony Bourdain. We’ve all been there. You’re among friends. Our mobile devices are often our only access point for a quick glimpse into a restaurant’s environment.

Draw First Time Visitors

Of course, a website can’t tell you how the food tastes, but it can show off the plate presentation and emphasize the interior decor. If after searching, you find the listing for the restaurant’s website which directs you to a cover page with outdated operating hours, or worse, you end up at the restaurant’s Facebook page filled with information you don’t need — you will likely keep looking. We’ve all seen restaurants that look less-than-impressive online. If the food/service/environment is fantastic – you will keep returning no matter how what their URL says. Repeat customers aren’t looking to a website to inform and entice them back in. That isn’t the target. Websites help draw FIRST TIME customers who don’t know what they should expect from your dining experience.

The Data Tells the Tale

According to Constant Contact, an industry leader in CRM technology, among the 92% of consumers that seek a restaurant’s online presence before choosing to eat there, 75% say they often decide where to eat based on those search results. That is significant! Among your customer base that is active online, 3 out of every 4 customers are making decisions to visit your restaurant based on your website alone. To be specific, 86% of consumers regularly view your menu online before visiting you, and 60% routinely see the images of their destination prior to visiting according to OpenTable.

Portfolio of Your Experience

Ok, so what? What does this mean for you as a restaurant owner? A restaurant’s website performs like a portfolio.

Think of a website like a self-operating salesman pitching a great experience to every customer considering your restaurant. And if a website is a sort of portfolio, it needs to bring some tangible assets to the forefront. As such, customers want to know what they will see when they walk inside, what they can eat after they sit down, and how much they will pay when they get up to leave. So, your interior photography should frame from the perspective of the customer with clean and expansive images that show off aspects unique to your restaurant. Include Informational images – pics of your menu with descriptions consistent to what they would hear in your restaurant (Hint: the sooner your customer knows what they want, the faster they can be served and increase your table turn-time).

Lastly, did you know that we expect less and less of websites all the time? There was a time when the prevailing wisdom was – show and say everything you possibly can – include it all on your website! That isn’t the case any longer.

A Couple of Do’s/Don’ts

Your website is meant to give your viewer a literal pre-view into your place of business. If you have things to show off, show them off!

Show people enjoying the space and having a great time. Smiles count!

If you have natural light, feature it in the photos. Dark a cozy corners for quieter meals?  Show them off.

Aside from chefs and food prep, we recommend not showing much of the kitchen/food-prep area as the customer won’t ever come into contact with that interior space.

Follow the points we listed above, and you’ll be a-okay!

Get a voice and get loud! If you need help putting it all together, we are here to help.

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