Restaurant website design tips for people who give a fork.
These top 10 tips for restaurant website design will help you to create a site that stays on brand and is an effective tool for generating reservations.
1. Know your demographic
It’s important to know the kind of people who visit the restaurant. Did you eat in the restaurant? Did you like it? Would you go back? If so, then great! That makes you part of the demographic.
Remember that a website is a business digital store front, and making a swanky website could alienate some people that the restaurant is trying to attract.
If the restaurant is new, you need to ascertain what demographic the client is aiming for, bringing me to my next point.
Often the client will have a pretty good idea of what they want, and it’s your job as a designer to make sure that translates into an awesome website. Occasionally a client will give you carte blanche on a design, which is great, but always bear in mind that they know their business better than anyone else, and it’s your job to ensure that the essence of the restaurant is embodied in digital form.
3. Stay on-brand (if possible)
Yes, I’m talking about the logo, but of course, a brand goes a lot further than that. Without getting too philosophical, an atmosphere is part of the brand, and it’s not rocket science to translate things like décor into the restaurant website design.
4. Be compatible
The web is changing, and no longer is it accessed solely from desktop computers running Windows XP under the staircase of a two-bedroom house in Sutton Coldfield. Mobile devices are a big factor, and given Apple boycott of Flash on mobile devices, it would be wise to avoid using any Flash on all but the most elaborate and immersive websites. Some clients may commission a separate restaurant website design for mobile devices but in most cases, just checking that the website functions and that the key information is easily accessible will go a long way!
5. Hierarchy of information
When patrons log onto the website, they will most likely be looking for several key points of information. It can be very nice to add a personal touch by including information about the restaurateur and how they came to this country with only a pocket full of change and a book of family recipes but think about what you’re looking for when you Google a restaurant. People want to know what kind of food the restaurant offers, how much it costs, the opening hours and booking information.
In addition to that, they’re probably going to want to see some independent reviews…
6. Bring in Trip Advisor
Assuming that the restaurant has good reviews, it will help to incorporate a Trip Advisor widget into the restaurant website design. If you like the restaurant, don’t forget to add a review yourself and when the website is done, update the Trip Advisor page to include the URL.
7. Think about updates
A CMS (Content Management System) can be expensive and doesn’t always provide the best results. Think about how often the client will want to update their site. If it’s an infrequent menu update, think about offering the updates as part of your package. Using a PDF sharing site like pdfcast.org could be a good alternative to a CMS, allowing the client to create/alter the new menu in Microsoft Word and then upload it via the site, whilst the link from the main site remains intact, either as a direct link or as an iframe.
8. Be ambitious
The beauty of working with restaurants is that they generally have a relatively low number of hits a day which gives you more scope for creative flare without worrying about bandwidth.
9. Know your restaurant booking forms
People like to book online, and it’s important to be able to incorporate a booking form into the site. Solutions like Top Table/Open Table work well as they monitor availability as well as informing the restaurant of any bookings that have been made. You can access the admin panel for Top Table without needing any passwords or information, and you can generate and customise (to an extent) a widget to be added to the website. If you’re following the previous point and you’re feeling ambitious, you can customise the widget to a much greater extent by copying the CSS from its server-side location, making it local and editing it to your heart’s content.
10. Know your competition
Suppose there are five Italian restaurants in the same area you want to make damn sure that yours is the best. Look at the competitors with an open mind and assess what they’ve done right, what they’ve done wrong and areas that could be improved upon.
Whether you’re designing a brand new website or working over the top of an old one, there’s a chance you won’t always be able to follow these rules but don’t despair, restaurant website design is often all about compromise, as much as we may hate to admit it.