8 Steps to a More Successful Restaurant Web Site
According to recent articles in the Boston Globe (March 2, 2011), the Huffington Post, and a survey in the Washington Post Magazine, Dining section what consumers want from a restaurant web site may differ from what you think.
At the top of the list was "current menus with up-to-date prices" - no surprises there. But also of high interest were: descriptions of dress codes, driving instructions, hours of operation, and information regarding special needs. For example, is the site wheelchair-accessible? And are large-type menus available?
What diners don't want from a restaurant web site, according to the Washing Post, is flash, animation, and as one respondent put it, "music that makes my co-workers think I'm on a porn site when I'm just trying to find a menu".
As the Boston Globe points out, "No one would build a Flash site now for a restaurant. Five years ago, it was ‘Where are the most bells and whistles?’ That’s not a justification for them still being there. For designers and users, the emphasis now is on accessibility. Websites have to be easy to navigate, for computer users as well as people on smartphones and tablets."
A properly and honestly presented restaurant website does not have to be complicated, and with the right information you can bring in new customers and keep frequent customers coming back for more.
Use the methods below to achieve a more successful Web site:
1. Think Brochure. The most effective Web sites concentrate on substance, not glitz. Avoid flash, animation, and especially music. Even a simple website is better than a site that won't or takes too long to load.
2. Use Photos. A picture is worth a thousand words. Not only do photos of your restaurant interior or exterior add color to a site, but they also offer information about the style and approach of your establishment. To most diners, restaurant appearance is an important factor when choosing a dining establishment and photos rated highly in the Washing Post survey of what diners look for in a restaurant web site.
3. Display Your Menu. Your menu is your most powerful marketing tool and is an essential part of a well designed site. It can sway a potential customer to choose your establishment. Especially important is that the menu be up-to-date with current prices. And if possible, focus on a menu format that's fast to load and will display on smartphones as well.
4. Display Your Specials. This feature serves multiple purposes. It gives people a reason to come back to your Web site, it lets frequent customers know when their favorite dish is being served, and it may lure someone in who is bored with your standard menu.
5. Make a Map. Let potential customers see how easy and convenient your restaurant location is. This is especially helpful to out-of-towners.
6. Include Web Coupons and Special Offers. Give people a reason to hit your site and then reward them for doing so.
7. Click to Order or Reserve. With companies like OpenTable.com and iMenu360.com, (both integrated into SoftCafe's WebGuider) you can now easily offer offer Online Ordering or Online Reservations. In both cases you stand to boost efficiency and increase sales to a rapidly growing internet savvy crowd. Being able to make online reservations from a restaurant website was near the top of the list in the Washington Post survey.
8. Strut Your Stuff. Include positive reviews or awards your establishments has received. Good reviews from your local paper can increase your business dramatically.