Earlier this week we discussed the importance of responsiveness for your restaurant website. We also discussed necessary components to a restaurant homepage. If you missed it, you can catch up here: Restaurant Website Fundamentals. Today, we are going to look at a couple of the other pages, some layout ideas, elements to include or not include, and other tips to give you an effective restaurant website.
Let’s dive in. The most important page of your website
if not the homepage is likely the menu page. The menu page, or pages if you have multiple, need to be clear and organized. I want to point out here, your menu needs to be text on a page, not an graphic, not a photo, and especially not a PDF. Yes, it is easier to put one of these options, but it will hurt your business to do so.
First off, if you use a photo, image, or PDF your menu will be unreadable to search engines, this will hurt your rankings as none of your menu items will trigger someone to come to your website. If someone is searching for “Best burger place in Appleton, WI” your restaurant won’t even be in the running because the search engine can read the image.
Second, almost anyone that is searching for your restaurant is not going to wait for your PDF to download, find it on their phone, and then try to zoom in and out to read your menu items, they will just go to a different restaurant. This same zooming factor applies to images on your site. Not only is it going to use up a bunch of data to download, the large image of your menu is also going to be difficult to read by people on their phones. As we discussed in the first Restaurant Website Fundamentals article, there are hundreds if not thousands of potential customers that search for your restaurant on their phone every year, if they can’t easily read your menu, they will go somewhere else.
So, you can see its important to type out your menu. When typing out your menu you can use the same types of elements you would use of a printed menu. Menu Layout Tips. For instance, have clear headers for menu categories such as: burgers, salads, or appetizers. You can put a box around an item to highlight it, or put it in a different color. Limit this to just black text and one accent color for important items. Using too many different colors makes your page look sloppy and unprofessional and actually fails to properly highlight items.
Either have your website navigation stuck to the top of the page or have links that customers viewing your menu can click to go back to the top of the page. It may be helpful to have sub-links under your standard navigation with quick links to the different menu categories of food items to help potential customers locate the items they are looking for as easily as possible.
If you have multiple different menus for instance lunch, dinner, and weekend menus; be sure to clearly label each menu at the top of the page with a big heading. Additionally be sure to clearly list the hours that the particular menu is available. You don’t want a customer to see a delicious item on your website, come into get it, and they then find out they can’t and they leave angry.
Other pages you may want to include on your website include a contact page, a calendar page, or an about the company page.
The contact page may not be necessary if you have all of the information and a map (or link to it) in the footer of every page. But, if you choose to put this information on a dedicated contact page you should do a few different things to make it as readable and functional as possible.
Make the phone number large and easy to find. This is the most likely way that a customer is going to want to contact you. Make sure the phone number is linked so that it can be clicked on by mobile devices to auto dial for them instead of having them try to remember or switch back and forth.
If you have a map, make sure it is linked to Google maps or Bing maps so that customers can easily get directions. Those on mobile devices will be able to load it into their GPS and get turn by turn directions right to your restaurant.
If you have a contact form for visitors to fill out, ensure that it doesn’t have too many required fields, basically a name, telephone or email, and the message should be all that is required. Requiring too much information makes customers uncomfortable or annoyed and will result in fewer potential customers or suggestions. Additionally, if guests missed a required field they may think their form submitted when it didn’t, and they get mad when you do not contact them back and you end up losing a customer.
If you have several events every month, you may want to have an upcoming events or calendar page. With this page make sure you have an easy to read calendar that matches the style of your page. Do not use an image or photo of another calendar for the same bad reasons as using an image for the menu page.
Find a calendar that lets you post an event title on a calendar but also let’s you click on the title to get more details about the event. If you don’t have many events every month, you may just want to list the events with a header and description and forego the calendar layout. If you use this method make sure the dates are clearly expressed and use the same format for every event. List your closest upcoming event first unless you are trying to specifically hard promote an event, in which case you can feature it first in a slightly different style, like a slightly larger font, a box, or a different color.
I said to never put it on your homepage, but you can list an ‘about our company’ on its own page. Make your story as fun to read as possible and keep it to just a few short paragraphs. Tell your story, and try not add big words or corporate jargon. Just keep it fun and interesting.
Some restaurants want to add a blog to their page. I typically would go against this but only because most restaurateurs do not have the time to commit to posting as frequently as they should. Ideally, to get the return you want out of it, you should be posting a new blog post at least once a week, consistently at the same time each week. Most restaurants do not have the time nor ideas to commit to that frequency. If you only update your blog every couple of months, it’s better to just not have one.
There may be other pages you wish to add such as a virtual tour, information pages, or other interesting pages. Make sure that whatever page you choose to add, it provides apparent value to your customer or potential customer. If you cannot define what that is, keep the page off of the site. Make sure your brand and style is consistent across the entire website and make sure that your visitors are able to find everything as easily as possible, ideally in 3 clicks or less.
You can use Google Analytics or another analytics software to track visitors on your site. You’ll be able to see drop off pages where customers leave your page after viewing certain pages. These could be cause for alarm or a sign of success. If a visitor visits the homepage, menu page, and then clicks the link to call you, and then drops off, they likely left your website to come to your restaurant. If however they go only to the homepage and leave immediately, you may need to readjust some things. If your having trouble tracking your visitors or need some help with keeping customers on your page, contact us and we can help you.
There are a lot of different components that go into building a successful restaurant website. By reading the latest two articles and following the advice, it will help get you started on the right track towards a successful, profitable website that brings new customers to your restaurant.