Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Anatomy of a Good Restaurant Website

For many diners who have just heard of your restaurant, the first place they will turn to for more research is your restaurant's website. Many websites have little information while others overwhelm visitors with too much. If your guests are like Goldilocks, then it's important to find the one that is "just right".
Website design changes as quickly as technology itself. What was the standard last year or six months ago quickly becomes stale and dated. It is best to keep things clean and simple, as they stand the test of time better than cluttered and busy websites.
Bacon & Butter, Sacramento, CA
Bacon & Butter, Sacramento, CA
Name, address, phone number, hours. The four most important details are often forgotten!
Food - Include a brief description of the food or style of food served.

Bistro 33's Reservation button is easy to find. (El Dorado Hills, CA)
Bistro 33's Reservation button is easy to find. (El Dorado Hills, CA)
Reservations - If your restaurant takes reservations, the best placement for the reservation widget or button is on the main landing page itself. The faster you can get guests to make a reservation, the better.

blackbird website
Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Social Media Icons - Facebook pages are a must for all restaurants while Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, etc. are nice extras. Keep in mind that the more social media accounts  you have, the more time and maintenance they require. Regardless, add the icons for the social media accounts that you are actively engaged in.
The most important tabs are Menu, About, and Contact. Adding more than that is unnecessary, adds to clutter, and are often overlooked.
Menu -  It's not necessary to have the exact menu, as long as you state it. You can note that the menu shown is a "Sample Menu" and add comments about changing daily or seasonally. The menu just has to give guests an idea of what you serve and the price range.
About - Often titled as "About Us" or "Our Story", this tab gives information about the restaurant's philosophy, cooking style, history of the owners or chefs, and sometimes the Mission (Statement). Unless your restaurant is historically interesting, it's not necessary to write a novel. Short and sweet is best.
Capital Dime, Sacramento, CA
Capital Dime, Sacramento, CA
Contact - The Contact page should include the address, phone number, email or an email form, and directions with a map.
Photos - Photos are a must. Your site needs to have enticing photographs of both the restaurant and how it looks, but also the food! People eat with their eyes and food photos are what will draw them in. Don't skimp. If you are not skilled enough to take great quality photographs, then hire someone. Hiring a photographer doesn't always mean you have to pay in cash. Many will be happy to work/trade for restaurant credit instead.  Having an extra Gallery tab is often worth it.
Music - Forget the music. It adds time to the loading of your page and nobody cares anyway. It can also be an unwelcome distraction if someone is loading your page in a place where they need to be quiet - like at work.
Video is a "maybe". First thing to keep in mind is that our brains are conditioned to TV commercials and so any video should be no more than 30 seconds -  a minute at the absolute tops. The video should be clear, well lit, and be worth adding to the site. No one needs to see the holiday party you hosted because that will quickly be dated. Images of your restaurant in action, happy patrons and staff, and, of course, food are the best things to capture.
There's an acronym often used in business - K.I.S.S. - Keep it simple, stupid. This holds true for website design. Keep it simple where the information guests are looking for is the fewest clicks away possible. Leave out extraneous information that will clutter the page. Draw them in with great pictures and then give them good food and service to keep them coming back for more.

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