A strong restaurant website design is a must in the modern age. Today, a staggering 90% of customers research a restaurant online before choosing to order delivery — yet 20% of restaurants don’t even have a website.
For restaurant marketers, the options are clear: get online, or fall behind.
Having a website is definitely a step in the right direction. However, your work won’t end there. In a 2019 study, 68% of U.S. diners said a restaurant's website has discouraged them from doing business with the brand. If your site is unappetizing, visitors have a buffet of alternatives to consider — and will be gone in the click of a button.
There are dozens of ways a website can go wrong. Poor user experience. Generic copy. Menus that fail to include key components: ingredients, photos, even prices. Luckily, these restaurant marketing mistakes are all completely avoidable.
In a HubSpot survey of over 3,400 marketing professionals, 63% of respondents said they had invested in a website upgrade in 2020. Ready to create a restaurant website that converts prospective diners into paying customers? Here are six tips for getting started.
Determine whether to hire a web developer or use a DIY platform
Some businesses hire web agencies for their restaurant website design, while others do it themselves using website builders.
These are both great options, and your chosen route will likely depend on budget. If you have more money to spend, outsourcing web design could be the way to go — especially if you want advanced features, like video animations or custom illustrations.
To strengthen their brand’s digital identity, the West Coast seafood eatery Pacific Catch built a stunning new website from scratch in 2020 with the help of Ignite Hospitality. Surf crashing on the shore. Palm fronds swaying in the breeze. Waves swelling out at sea. Pacific Catch’s personalized homepage reels customers right in, transporting them to California’s sandy beaches.
If you have a smaller budget, an affordable hosting platform like Squarespace or Wix could be the perfect solution. Squarespace offers clean, customizable designs, with a range of appealing restaurant website templates to choose from. Setup is simple, and a business account costs just $18 per month. Wix also offers beautiful designs and ready-made restaurant templates, with a basic business plan costing $23 per month.
Beef up key pages on your website
Once you’ve chosen a restaurant website design partner or platform, it’s time to customize your site with compelling web copy and user-friendly navigation.
Popular pages to include on your site are: Our Story, Menu, Reservations, and Order Online.
Remember: You only have a few seconds to make your pitch. This is your opportunity to get personal, sharing the reason why you opened for business to begin with. Put your mission front and center for all to see, then sprinkle storytelling throughout your site to make visitors hungry for more.
Don’t skip social media icons, either. Today, there are more than 3.8 billion social media users worldwide. Chances are many of your website visitors check Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — so plug your accounts and make it easy for them to follow along.
Set your sights on search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is a secret ingredient for strong restaurant marketing. When prospective customers type food-related keywords into Google (think: “sushi near me,” “best Austin BBQ,” or “Boston seafood restaurant”), businesses with strong SEO rise in search engine rankings — and get found sooner.
One easy strategy for boosting your SEO rankings is including keywords in page titles and descriptions. Fortunately, many web hosting platforms have tools — like the Wix SEO Wiz — to help you identify relevant keywords, add alt text to images, and more.
Make your site mobile-friendly
Today, 60% of all digital restaurant orders are placed on mobile devices — so mobile responsiveness is critical for restaurant websites.
Most website builders, like Squarespace and Wix, are designed to be mobile-friendly (and Wix even has a button that lets users edit their mobile view). No matter which platform you choose, it’s worth previewing your site on mobile before sharing it with the world.
Keep in mind that phone screens are much smaller than computer screens, and audiences don’t want to scroll forever on their smartphones to find important information. Concise web copy makes for a more enjoyable user experience — so opt for bite-sized snippets over wordy text blocks.
Optimize your menu
When it comes to online menus, PDFs are not your friend. If you want customers to find your restaurant when searching for specific keywords like “poutine,” “acai bowl,” or “tapas,” your best bet is having a text-based menu page — which is much better for SEO.
Take the guesswork out of online ordering by including clear descriptions and up-front prices for each menu item. If any dishes are locally sourced, let customers know! For example, sprucing up your descriptions from simply “oysters” to “Little Peconic Bay oysters on the half shell” tells a story.
Finally, remember to keep customers posted with any seasonal menu updates. Warm winter soups. Fresh spring salads. Cool summer cocktails. Spiced fall lattes. As the weather changes, so do menus — and your restaurant web design should always reflect your latest offerings.
Integrate online ordering.
Digital ordering and delivery have been growing 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014. Customers have spoken: Online ordering is here to stay.
With online ordering, website visitors can purchase your menu items on their phone or computer — no phone call necessary. At DoorDash, we’re here to make the process as smooth as possible for you and your guests. Storefront helps restaurants create a branded online store to enable pickup and delivery ordering directly from your own website, commission-free.
When designing your restaurant website, be sure to include an “Order Online” or “Order Now” button in your hero header, like the Middle Eastern eatery Naan & Kabob does in the screenshot below. This way, site visitors can clearly see your call to action. In one click, prospective diners will be on your Storefront page or other online ordering platform — and that much closer to becoming a customer.
Curious how Storefront works in the real world? Learn how one Illinois-based grilled chicken franchise increased orders by 56% with DoorDash Storefront.
As technology advances, customers will continue searching for food options online. By following these six restaurant website design tips, your business can attract diners in an increasingly digital age.
Hungry for more tips on building your restaurant website? Download our ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Website Marketing.