When I start thinking about how to go about designing the perfect website for a business that I’m working with, one of the first things I need to consider is what it is they need to get across to customers on the first glance and how I can help them draw potential clients in for a closer look. This is especially important for restaurants, who need their potential guests to see what they’re about as quickly as possible.
Restaurant websites typically need to showcase specific information including the style of the restaurant, the menu, hours of operation, and even chef biographies in certain situations. However, stating this information isn’t enough. There needs to be something more, something special to make people who are looking at your website really feel a need to stop by in person.
Of course, the first step to creating a great website is to invest serious time into finding the right host and design template. Many hosts allow us to choose from dedicated “restaurant” templates that we can then customize to fit our needs perfectly. However, creating a totally successful and beautiful website needs a little more than that. Here are a few tricks that I always use that can help you create the best looking restaurant website before you know it.
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Understand Your Target Guests
Every restaurant sets itself up with a very specific idea of who their clientele will typically be. They have an image in their head of what a full restaurant would look like even down to who would be there and what they would be ordering. Whenever I design a restaurant website, I make sure I understand this vision as precisely as possible. Understanding who your goal audience is can make a world of difference in website design. You need to know who it is you’re trying to attract.
If you’re aiming to bring in families with loads of small children, making sure you have a fun and creative website will be key. On the other hand, if your business is typically catering to business professionals during their lunch hours and after 5 o’clock, then you’ll want your site to be much more professional and clean cut to give them the right idea.
I always try to visit the restaurant a couple of times so that I can see for myself the type of people who tend to visit it. Once I have this idea fully formatted in my mind, I can easily work out what style of website I should move towards as I proceed.
Take a Look at the Competition
Are there other restaurants in the area that tend to serve similar cuisine to your restaurant? Then, why not check out the competition. I usually try and look at at least three to four local restaurant websites so that I can not only see what they’re doing well, but more importantly, what they’re missing. When I try and create the perfect restaurant website, I put myself in the mind of the customer. I think about what it is I would want to see from a place I plan on visiting and move through the site from there. What would I want to know when looking for a place to eat, a catering facility, or even just a great bar?
If you can’t seem to get any ideas from local sites, you could always try branching out of the area and looking at some sites with restaurants similar to your own in other locations. But, it’s always important to keep in mind that copying the style or format of another site is simply a no-no. You want to be unique and different, so get inspired by what you find already online and then take it to the next level.
Highlight the Differences
Are you working with a restaurant that has a particular twist that you’ve never seen before? Is there just something so different about the way they approach food that really makes them stand out? Then, highlight that. With any restaurant, the more different and exciting they are, the better. If a restaurant that I’m working with has a specific quirk that makes them special, I’ll be sure to slap that right on the homepage whether it’s a picture of the chef’s favorite main course or the dining room with its odd decorations.
People enjoy visiting restaurants that they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else and that can offer an experience with the likes of which they’ll never be able to find again. So, bringing whatever it is that makes the restaurant unique and different and highlighting that will be a great selling point for customers who are looking for that one-of-a-kind type of evening.
Keep Things Simple
At the end of the day, when someone wants to visit a restaurant they want things to be easy and enjoyable, not complicated and time-consuming and the website that you design needs to reflect that. If potential customers head over to a website and find it disorganized and cluttered, they’ll start to question the professionalism of the establishment and doubt whether or not this is a place where they want to spend their time.
Keeping things simple and clean is the best way to ensure you’re able to communicate the restaurant’s message effectively. This is true for everything from the menu design all the way to the contact information. The easier you make things for the client, the more likely they’ll be to consider this place for their night out.
People want to visit restaurants that make them feel like they’re going to have a great time and this website will be their first interaction with the business. Make sure you give them a stellar first impression by creating a site that shows them just how fun and laid back an evening enjoying this fine cuisine can be.
Link Social Media Sites
One of the first questions I always ask restaurant owners when I start planning out their sites will be whether or not they have established social media accounts to link up. People love getting a sort of behind the idea of the scene of what a restaurant is all about, and by attaching Instagram and Facebook feeds to the website, they’ll be able to get a first-hand look at what goes on in the kitchen to create this amazing food they see in the dining room.
Also, remember that people eat with their eyes, and so the more exciting visuals and captivating images you’re able to place on the site, the better. If you notice that the restaurant doesn’t really have any particularly delectable looking pictures on their own, try going in and taking a few yourself. I’ll sometimes spend a night taking as many pictures of food and drinks as I can to get that perfect homepage image or Instagram shot.
Think About a Blog
Does the restaurant you’re working with have someone you think could really get into creating exciting content for the site? Then, take advantage of it. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that restaurant goers have become much more investing in what’s going on with the restaurant itself, rather than just the food that’s heading over to their table. They want to really feel like they are part of the overall experience. Restaurant blogs are a great way to give client’s that inclusive feeling.
You could publish the history of the restaurant, cooking tips from the chefs, and I’ll even include a few recipes here and there with the chef’s permission and approval. Really, finding out what makes your restaurant special and going a little more in depth will help give your restaurant that extra little something to make it really stand out.
Creating the perfect restaurant website can often seem like a serious challenge, but by understanding what it is a client wants and mixing it with what the chef hopes to express, you’ll be well on your way. The perfect website is something that exudes a virtual sense of the atmosphere that’s been created in the physical space. You can use images, keyword phrases, and even blog posts to really get your point across and show customers what makes this restaurant better than everyone else.
People want to eat out at restaurants that they feel like they’ll never have the chance to try anything like it ever again, and so make sure you show off everything that sets your restaurant apart as quickly as you can. Having something that grips your customers and pulls them along the culinary journey will be key, whether it’s the incredible looking food, exciting interior design, or cocktails that will amaze and awe them.
I hope that these tips will help you as you start out designing your site. Make sure you keep these tricks in mind and up your sleeve so that you can work out the perfect format and the best way to showcase your restaurant today.