Our Philosophy for creating a great restaurant website
Your website is the cornerstone of your business. It is where people go to learn more about you, and ultimately decide whether or not they want to dine with you. We recently conducted a survey into how digital technologies influence restaurant decision making and discovered that a staggering 89% of people check a restaurant’s website before making a booking. And… if you don’t have a website, 65% of those people will not have the confidence to give you a try!
You may think, that’s ok, I have passing trade. Well… what if we told you that 4 out of 5 people walking down the street will search on Google (from their phone) for a restaurant they have just seen before deciding whether or not to dine there. And if they can’t find your website from that search? Well… our survey reveals that 78% of them will walk on past and not come in, with only 22% of people sticking with you and searching around the internet a bit more in order to find something that might give them confidence (e.g. Tripadvisor).
So... a website is pretty important then!
You may probably have heard somewhere that websites are pretty easy to create yourself these days, thanks to user friendly web builders such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace. And… we agree. It is super easy to create your own website.
Wait, what?! … if I can make one myself, why would I pay you to do it for me? Good question. Here’s why…
Building a website is not as simple as selecting a template, uploading some pictures, writing a bit of text and pressing ‘publish’.
Creating a great website takes time, involves a vision, a level of creativity and a sound knowledge of digital marketing and web design techniques. User experience, search engine optimisation (SEO), search marketing, online reputation management, social media integration, marketing automation and digital customer service all play a huge part in ensuring the website is effective.
Yes, anyone can create a website, but not everyone will have the time, or more importantly the skills, to create a great website that is actually effective and sells your business. For one thing, if no-one can find your website, what’s the point of having it – that’s where our SEO skills come in.
And the reason we use Wix to create all of our websites? Simple… we could create a custom built website for you, cleverly coded using HTML, but the truth is it will look exactly the same as a website we could create for you on Wix. And no it's not just working from templates. On Wix, we can work from a blank canvas (we never use a template - it’s not good for creativity), and add in a bit of coding where necessary. The big difference between a Wix build and a custom build is instead of handing over to you a coded website you can’t edit, we'll be handing over to you one that is simple to edit. Any our clients love this.
So, what are the keys to making a great website?
Having a creative vision
Your website needs to stand out, show your personality, look professional and influence decision making in a positive way. For this we would always recommend working with a professional. If we take a photography analogy, anyone can take a photo, but there is a big difference between a trained photographer and an amateur. How do you want people to perceive your business? As professional, or as amateur?
Ensuring there is a great user experience
Great design is not all about how it looks, it’s also about how it works. It is about ensuring the website is easily navigable and allows users to find all of the information they are looking for easily and quickly. This includes opening hours, a copy of the menu, how to get in contact and how to book.
Having an online booking system is becoming more and more critical and according to our recent survey is the most desired way for people to make a booking. We can integrate booking systems (such as Open Table) into your website, so that’s covered.
Online ordering is also becoming more and more in demand these days, so if you are a restaurant that offers takeaways, this is something you should seriously consider. To offer this you can sign up to sites such as Just Eat or Hungry House (If you have means to deliver the food to customers yourself) or sites such as Deliveroo and Uber if you don’t (they’ll deliver for you).
All of these solutions can be integrated into a website we build for you. Or, if you don’t want to be tied to an external company, we can set you up your own online ordering system. Guess that’s got online ordering covered as well.
Ensuring it is optimised for mobile devices
This is something that is vitally important. In our recent survey it was discovered that 90% of people use mobile devices to research restaurants online! 90%! This means having a mobile optimised version of your website is critical.
Thankfully, all of our websites include a mobile version of the site as standard. Phew!
Keeping the website content up to date and fresh
There is nothing worse than going onto a restaurant website and not being able to find the latest menu, seeing an offer only to discover it has expired, or noticing an event and realising it happened a year ago.
Thanks to the easy editor we will leave you with, you can do this really easily. And if you would rather we updated it for you, that’s fine, we can also offer that service for you.
Making your menu plain text and not PDF
Making visitors download a pdf in order to view your menu (especially onto their mobile) is one of the worst things you can do when it comes to optimising the user journey.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t have a pdf version available, but it shouldn’t be the only way for people to read your menu. Make it easy!
Having plain text will also allow Google to pick up keywords from it, which is essential in improving your search engine ranking (so don’t think putting a jpeg on the site will get around this).
Focusing on your Search Engine Optimisation
Having a great looking website that offers a great customer journey is one thing but optimising your website for search engines is just as critical. There is not point having a great looking website if people can’t find it.
That is why all of our websites are optimised with title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, alt tags etc, and all of the text is also written in a search engine friendly way.
We also, as standard, submit your website to Google Search Console so Google knows to crawl it, as well as setting up or claiming your Google my Business listing.
Having a complete understanding of what a restaurant website should aim to do
Dining out is not just about eating amazing food, having great service and enjoying the ambiance of a restaurant. It is so much more than that! It is about catching up with friends, spending quality time as a family or enjoying a romantic evening with a loved one.
A restaurant website is the start of that experience; it’s your first opportunity to impress people with your offering. Don’t just show pictures of the food and the décor, show how your restaurant will help them have a great experience, whilst also giving them just the right amount of information to make a decision. Allowing them to make an easy booking would be nice too.
Not only are we digital marketing specialists, we have also managed and worked as consultant for large and highly successful restaurants. We know what people are looking for, you should tap into that knowledge.
Making sure your passion comes across
The passion and enthusiasm you have for your restaurant should be screaming from your website pages. Remember small things make a huge difference.
Passion can come through the way you write the text, through the images you put up (are they of happy, smiling hardworking staff, or are they generic stock photos?). It can also come in the form of videos. From our experience, videos portray passion 1,000 times more powerfully than images.
Why not have a video on your site of a chef cooking a delicious meal and have him passionately talking the viewer though it. Remember though, there is a big difference between a video shot on your phone, and one shot by a professional.
We have been working in promotional video for years so if you work with us, you won’t even have to outsource this.
Providing social proof through reviews and testimonials
It is reported that 84% of people look at online reviews before dining (Reputation, 2018). If your reviews are positive, shout about them on your website.
You won’t believe how much influence positive reviews have.
Starting a Blog
A brilliant way of adding fresh content and helping to engage with people is through blogging. A blog is great for search engine optimisation and can be particularly powerful for restaurants as it shows the personal side of your business. Sharing recipe ideas or writing about what’s new at your restaurant is great for creating loyalty.
Writing about where you source your ingredients and your reasoning for this, or what your staff do on their days off is also incredibly powerful.
We can set up a blogging section on your website which you will even be able to update from your phone.
Understanding what works and what doesn’t
Monitor your site using analytics tools such as Google Analytics. This will give you an insight into what is working and what is not; where the bottle necks are. It will also allow you to understand if people are having difficulty finding information.
Gathering and analysing these insights is where our expertise come in.
We can even create custom reports for you to help you understand where your traffic is coming from and work with you on a consultative basis to help you drive more traffic and optimise your digital marketing based on insights.
Leveraging your social media
Integrating a social media stream into your website is a great way of keeping your website content fresh.
It also helps drive traffic to your social media pages, providing a great way for people to connect and engage with you.
A piece of advice... when getting someone to design a website for you - ensure YOU can edit the site easily.
There is nothing more frustrating than having a great website built for you but not being able to edit it yourself. Wix offer an incredibly easy back office system that means you can easily edit your site once we have created it for you.
A drag and drop editor, that’s not restricted by templates - you can’t ask for more than that.