Restaurateurs excel at developing creative ideas for a business, serving delicious food, and creating fantastic guest experiences. And now, increasingly, a critical component of that guest experience is digital. Your website is the new front door of your business.
As your restaurant perfects your digital ordering and takeout and delivery offerings, it’s more important than ever that your restaurant website is well-optimized, making it easy for guests to discover your restaurant online and find exactly what they’re looking for. Your website is the foundation of your restaurant marketing strategy.
Restaurant owners now have a unique opportunity to tailor their guests’ experiences, both online and in-person, to build loyalty and turn casual guests into consistent regulars. With 89% of diners researching restaurants online before visiting in-person, your website is the platform for your guests' first interaction with your business.
Whether you're building the site yourself or hiring someone to do it for you, the most important aspect of creating an effective restaurant website design is that it efficiently conveys critical information while also enticing new customers.
What To Include on your Restaurant Website
1. The Basic Stuff: Address, Phone Number, & Hours
Start with the basics.
Your address, phone number, and hours should be front and center on your homepage. You want to make it as easy as possible for your guests to locate you, so don't make people click around to find it. In the same vein, if your restaurant has multiple locations, list them all. Beyond an easy user experience, listing accurate key information on the homepage can help improve your rank in Google search results.
Your information should also be up to date on Google My Business. Google is often the first place a potential customer will come across your website, so make sure your listing is up-to-date and accurately lists your hours, locations, and ordering information.
2. Link Directly to Social Media
Creating a consistent brand experience — on your website, in-person, through email, and on social media — is critical to your marketing efforts. You also want to make it as easy as possible for guests to keep in touch with you, and connecting your social media to your website is an easy way to do this.
Keep your social media pages true to your brand, menu, and culture — no matter the channel. Your social media strategy should make sense as a whole, but you can also fine-tune the content so that it makes sense for the platform. Keep Instagram visual with beautiful photos or behind-the-scenes shots; use Facebook to share updates and create and promote events.
Guests continue to use Facebook to discover new restaurants, whether through their research, recommendations from friends, or through Facebook advertising. This means it’s worth updating your Facebook business page, including any relevant information, and remaining active by regularly sharing content, photos, and updates.
You should also embed your social media links directly on your website, making it easy for guests to access your pages and share with friends.
3. Spotlight Your Menu
A whopping 93% of consumers will look at a restaurant’s menu before they decide where to eat, according to a recent OpenTable survey. So of course you want to include your menu on your website. But there is a specific way to do it to make it as accessible as possible to your guests.
Website visitors want to view your menu quickly and easily, often from their smartphones. Menus should be listed in an easy-to-find (and easy to share) web page that can be found both on your website’s homepage and on Google results. And make sure that it is not a PDF or image, but uses HTML for easy searching.
4. Optimize Online Ordering
Roughly 82% of guests prefer to order directly from a restaurant’s website, according to Toast’s 2020 Restaurant Guest Report. That’s a win for you, but you’ve got to make sure it’s easy for guests to order from you once they land on your homepage.
Showcase your menu and point site visitors to important information they may need, all while integrating your website with technology like online ordering and reservation software. Many Toast restaurants have found success with a big “Order Online” button right on their homepage that directs guests to their owned online ordering page.
And don’t ignore the basics that are evergreen no matter what's going on in the world, like adding photos help to upsell products and provide a context to your menu. And creating great menu descriptions is key for restaurants that have an elaborate menu or one with dishes that their customer base may be new to.
5. Offer Gift Cards and Merchandise
Gift cards and merchandise are both easy ways to drive revenue. And they’re easy ways for your loyal guests to show their love for your restaurant.
For restaurants, gift cards essentially serve as a micro-loan for immediate cash flow — and you can count on that customer coming back again another time. Make sure to promote gift cards front and center on your website to make it even easier for their guests to find both gift cards AND online ordering.
One Toast restaurant expanded into selling merchandise as soon as they closed their doors because of COVID. Konbi expanded their products to include clothing, caramels, teas, granola, and spiced nuts along with our favorites: egg socks.
6. Highlight Loyalty
Loyalty programs are key to turning casual guests into consistent regulars. Along with online ordering and gift cards, make sure that a prompt to sign up for loyalty is front and center on your website.
Your loyalty program can be completely tailored to your concept. For example, you could reward guests for their 10th burrito or 10th visit. With Toast Loyalty, guests automatically accrue points whether they dine in-store or place an order online. Loyalty accounts linked to a guest's credit card makes this easy.
Plus, you can combine loyalty and email, and use the insights available from your customers’ loyalty analytics to send targeted email campaigns to those who are close to reaching rewards.
With a strong loyalty program, your guests will be excited to order from you again and redeem those points for a discount next time they come in. From there, you can continue to target them with segmented email campaigns, promote repeat visits, discounts, gift cards, and even more loyalty points.
7. Encourage Email Sign-Ups
Email marketing is a great way to build customer relationships, to keep guests coming back again and again. Loyalty sign-ups is one great way to gather customer emails, but not the only way.
Include sign-up prompts into every customer touchpoint: as guests make a reservation; a line on the check or a comment card presented after the meal; via your restaurant’s social channels; and especially, on your restaurant’s website.
With Toast, you’ll automatically grow your email list when new guests place orders for takeout or delivery, or when they’re dining in-store and opt to sign up for your loyalty program. This type of technology streamlines your guest engagement.
There are endless possibilities in your email promotions. Learn more about how to target your customer base through email marketing here.
8. Include Enticing Photos
Imagery is the most effective way to send a message about your business to potential guests. Photos convey what to expect and look forward to when guests come to the restaurant or order online. If you can evoke an "Oooh - that looks good" response from website visitors, you've already won them over.
Catch 122 combined their social media strategy and website photography into one great Instagram campaign. Guests shared photos of their food with the tag #catch122menu and their images were used to build an online gallery on the restaurant website.
9. Tell Your Story
This is a great way for people to learn more about the restaurant concept and what your business represents.
Your website is a great place to showcase your restaurant's personality and history. Are you sourcing produce from local farms? Is the restaurant named after your mom? Tell your visitors about it in an "About Us" or "Our Story" section of the website.
10. ADA Accessibility
Before launching your new-and-improved website, ensure that it is accessible for every potential guest.
Things to double check include:
Do your images contain alternative text, which provides text descriptions for images that are on your page, that aid the visually impaired?
Do you have form labels for guests that use screen readers to interpret and interact with fields on your forms?
Make sure that your website is accessible for all guests to find your locations, view the menu, order online, make a reservation, and every other function you have available. Learn more about ADA Accessibility standards here.
Restaurant Website Design
How can you attract guests when there's no end to the options diners have for takeout and delivery? And how can you keep them coming back? Your restaurant’s brand plays an essential role.
Your brand isn’t just your logo or your font. It’s not just your business’ identity. It’s how you express who you are, what you stand for, and what guests can expect from you. And it extends beyond your four walls: Your online presence needs to reflect your unique positioning at every touchpoint.
A guest searching for you online is equivalent to them walking in your front door. So the question is: What will they find there? Creating a consistent end-to-end brand experience — on your website, in-person, through email, and on social media — is critical to your marketing efforts.
Read this next
A great restaurant website can attract new customers and raise the overall profile of your restaurant. Here’s how to create your own restaurant website.
Restaurant Website Inspiration
Here are a couple of our favorite restaurant websites to inspire your new-and-improved experience:
What they do well:
Tell their story
Put online ordering & gift cards front-and-center
Promote their email list
What they do well:
Make their basic information easy to find
Showcase their food and personality with high-quality images
Link directly to their social media
In 2021, Websites are Where First Impressions Happen
No matter what kind of restaurant you run, your website is a critical piece of the puzzle. Let your customers get to know you, your food, and your vibe online so they know what to expect when they come pick up their dinner. For much more restaurant website inspiration, check out this post.