In our last article, we discussed how website design has extended into the restaurant industry. We recognised in recent years the restaurant industry has expanded more than ever, with high expectations from both customers and restaurateurs. A respectable restaurant comes with having ‘the experience’, which is achieved by most restaurants. However, many restaurateurs are neglecting their business website, which is a huge contributing factor to running a successful restaurant in today’s rapidly growing online society. It is with understanding, a website should always be aesthetically intriguing to hold the viewer’s attention. And once that attention is held, website usability becomes the fundamental factor. The amount of visitors the website has can either decrease or increase drastically depending upon the ease of use of the website. Without ease of use, viewers will simply move on. Website usability can include the presentation of concise and relevant information to the subject of the website. In this instance, location of the restaurant, menus and special offers. The said are simply the primary building blocks to any website design. With regards to a professional restaurant business website, perhaps guidelines should be discussed and considered.

Website Design Gallery: Fennel Japanese Restaurant

Aesthetic Guidelines for Restaurant Website Design

These guidelines are to help create a website that stands out from the other and many restaurant websites within this competitive industry. The end product is one that reflects the potential ‘experience’ that could be provided by the restaurant. From here on, we will discuss elements such as music, bookings, content and images. Music may play a part within the restaurant premises, helping to create the right type of ambience. However, it must be noted that this is not a significant element to the restaurant setting. In fact, many restaurants have opted to be without music. It is preferred to allow the customers to enjoy the company that they have, the food that is being served and the service that is being held. The simple restaurant noise is sufficient to set the restaurant ambience. Therefore, why must music be incorporated into the restaurant website. However, if the intention is to have music on the website, bear in mind music is a personal preference so always allow the visitor to turn it on or off; do not annoy potential customers. Reservation is a basic arrangement within the restaurant business. If it is available onsite, make it available on the restaurant website. Whether it’s providing the viewer with contact details such as telephone numbers, email or a system whereby the viewer can make the reservation themselves, make it available. For instance, franchise restaurants often allow the customer to make a booking online and a confirmation email to follow. This has proved favourable amongst customers. Location is another basic factor. In tangible terms, a restaurant premises should be easy to find with a high traffic flow. However in terms of the restaurant website, clear instructions need to be provided to help customers find the restaurant alongside the actual address. Therefore it makes sense to embed Google Maps as it is so easy to use. Also consider optimising your Google+ Local listing. This is increasingly important for search rankings, as well as your positioning in the Google Maps results. It can significantly help your visibility for potential customers who are on the move, using their mobile devices for such a search. Focusing back on website usability, one of the components is the content quality. It needs to be relative and relevant. For instance, special offers with regards to set menus for certain events and dates, such as mother’s day could be displayed. Updated menus for the correct season or even year could prove vital. Perhaps a blog about the chef’s new improved recipe on a particular dish or even a new and exciting dish on the menu. Amongst all the content, consider establishing a tone of voice. Work alongside the branding of your restaurant; if it is fine dining, keep the content simple yet formal. But if the ambience is exotic, make the content loud, bold and fun. When considering the content of the website, do not just focus on the written content. Accompany it with imagery. Whether it’s photos of the property, drinks or dishes from the menu; advertise the restaurant products through this method. Attention to detail is a quality to be had when considering customer service. Extend this quality to the website. Ensure your website is compatible with all major browsers and devices. Nothing is more frustrating for a user than to come upon a website that they cannot view. If the restaurant website has an entry page, delete it. Instead of boasting technical animation skills, take the viewer and potential customer straight to the homepage. Not only are the animation skills not relevant to the website purposes, but it can be rather annoying for the visitor. Such technique is just wasting the visitor’s time and making them wait for no good reason; why make that impression before the customer enters the restaurant.

Technical Guidelines for Restaurant Website Design

The above factors are to be taken into consideration when transferring the essence of the restaurant to the website. Turning to the more technical layout of website design, first let’s focus on the homepage. Important information such as the address and telephone number should be easily accessible. If the business has more than one restaurant location, make that easy and clear for the visitor to select their preferred location before some other aspects such as making a reservation. Key navigation should also be available here. Identify and prioritise the most important pages of the website and display them prominently in your navigation. For example, About, Location, Contact, Reservations, Opening Hours and Menus. Menus can be either incorporated in to the page design, or as PDF downloads. Most people prefer the in page option as it is quick to load and also blends with the design of the site. However, a PDF is still a suitable option if you wish to display the menu as it appears in printed media at your restaurant. Providing the PDF is kept small in size (memory) then it will display quickly in a web browser, with the added option to download for future reference or printing. As mentioned above, with regard to the content of the website, consider imagery to accompany the written content; a picture is worth a thousand words. Whether it’s photos of the exterior or interior of the property, drinks or dishes from the menu; advertise the restaurant products through this method. Intrigue the potential customer. If photography is used, quality is key.  Make sure your images are high in resolution so as to really enforce the quality of your product. Low resolution and grainy images translate to a low standard of service and product perceived by the customer. One of the biggest and most frequent mistakes made by the creators of menus, is the use of poorly laid up food, bad framing, or even worse, dull and colourless images of their food items. Food and drink galleries should be bold, colourful and of course, appetising. Websites that incorporate Flash are becoming outdated. It has many problems such as slow loading or even browsers and devices that do not support it anymore. For a long time, Flash was the pinnacle element to any dynamic or eye catching website design. With its moving colours, animations and music. However in today’s online society, Flash application is limited. Not only is usability restricted to desktop computers and a minority of hand held devices, it can dramatically lower your SEO score and loading time. This can place you out of the market, or lose your viewer’s attention before they have even managed to view your information. Following on from having attention to detail being transferred onto the restaurant website, ensure your website is compatible with all major browsers and devices. The restaurant website should be mobile-compatible. Google will rank mobile optimised sites above those that pay no attention, or do not work on smartphones.

Social Media Guidelines for Restaurant Website Design

In an online society where social media plays a significant role in people’s daily lives, consider the many social networks to aid advertisement and therefore boost online popularity. For instance, have a Facebook page and encourage customers to “Like us on Facebook!”.  Or suggest to the customer to “Join our mailing list to receive special offers!” However, do not bombard the customer with this feature on the website. Make it subtle as this can be perceive as bothersome marketing on the restaurant’s behalf. Also consider having a Twitter account for the restaurant, encouraging customers to “tweet” about their experience at the restaurant or discuss favourite dishes. This can also enable the restaurant to announce any special offers or new dishes during the year. Further, use this method to answer customer questions directly and efficiently. Have your restaurant registered with rating and review websites such as TopTable, where if your restaurant scores well, there is the potential to pull in those ratings as well as the positive comments from reviewers.

Summary

Website design should and is being extended into the restaurant industry. It is very important to have an online presence within today’s rapidly growing online society. To have a successful restaurant website, is a means for advertisement and creating popularity for the restaurant business, therefore potentially encouraging a growing clientele. However to have that successful website to promote the restaurant, first consider the primary building blocks of a website, then alongside the three types guidelines; aesthetic, technical and social. A professional website designer in Berkshire that can provide this service for you is Dreamkatcha.