Why Your Restaurant's Mobile Website is Extremely Important

By: David Kutcher

5 Minute Read

Dec 22, 2017

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Mobile Restaurant Website

Toast is pleased to present a guest blog post from David Kutcher, president at Confluent Forms, a company that offers website design, online strategy, branding and custom software development to restaurants and other small businesses.

Let’s face it: chances are your restaurant’s mobile website was treated as an afterthought.

Every time you looked at mockups from your designer, or even at your own site, it was almost always on a desktop or laptop. You spent the majority of your time and energy making the desktop version of your site beautiful and engaging; the version shown to people on their mobile phones was given a cursory glance, but largely ignored.

Here are some statistics from a survey by Confluent Forms of 11 restaurants of varying sizes and cuisines in different marketplaces during the timeframe of January to June, 2015:

  • 42% of the visitor sessions to the restaurants were on their mobile devices, compared to 48% on their desktop.
  • The ratio of mobile sessions compared to desktop sessions has significantly changed in the last year, from 28% mobile to 42% mobile, an increase of 50%.
  • 53% of all mobile sessions began with a Google search from their device.

According to a Google research study, local searchers are ready to act. Many visit a nearby location within a day and complete purchases at a higher rate than consumers who conduct non-local searches.

  • 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same.

  • Local searches lead to more purchases than non-local searches. 18% of local searches on smartphone lead to a purchase within a day vs. 7% of non-local searches.

Those people searching for a restaurant, or even searching specifically for your restaurant, are highly motivated customers. In addition, as you can see from our survey of restaurants, that search volume is not a small amount; in fact, it is almost on par with the traffic from desktop in both total visits as well as search visits.

Mobile is getting a fraction of the attention, whereas it should be getting equal attention if not more attention than the desktop.

Free Resource: Restaurant Website Checklist

What is important to mobile visitors on your restaurant website?

Keeping in mind that your visitors are very intent-driven and looking to walk into a restaurant in the very near future, your mobile website needs to accomplish the following tasks:

  1. convey restaurant brand messaging and unique value propositions (your amazing space, delectable food, ambiance, etc.)

  2. show a menu in a text format that is easily readable and scalable on a small device

  3. provide easy access and integration with your reservation system, restaurant POS system or a click-to-call in order to generate a reservation phone call

  4. include address information and an easy clickable link to Google Maps

Your website’s accomplishment of all the above-mentioned tasks efficiently for the visitor can have a significant impact on your ability to convert those driven mobile users into your establishment. Mobile visits might be shorter in duration, and even represented in your analytics reporting as a higher rate of bounces, but this is OK, because your website needs to capture them and capture them quickly. They might only come for one page (your homepage), but if that page gives them the information they need (such as phone number or address), then it has done its job perfectly.

P.S. For examples of successful restaurant websites, click here

Mobile Website Solutions

Dedicated mobile site

The idea of a dedicated mobile site is to easily provide a mobile experience without causing any interruption to the desktop version of your website. A visitor would come to your site, and then a script in the site would detect the visitor as being on a mobile device and quickly re-route the visitor to the mobile version. A restaurant can have a dedicated mobile site created for them fairly quickly and inexpensively using services such as Duda Mobile.

While quick and inexpensive, the dedicated mobile website does have the drawback of requiring a restaurant to maintain two websites, regardless of how good the sync functionality provided by Duda is.

Responsive web design

A responsive web design is a website that adjusts and conforms to the browser’s dimensions, using them to trigger rules in the website code for treatment of entities. When done properly, this responsiveness can enable a website to easily transition between a desktop, tablet, mobile phone, and any other device, adjusting font sizes, image treatments, layout, and even the navigation functionality to best accommodate the user.

A responsive website is a good thing to have, and perhaps a requirement for websites today. You need to have at minimum a mobile-friendly website, but a responsive website is preferred, as it enables you to be mobile-friendly, but also managing only one website. The only downside to a responsive website is that responsive design still (generally) takes a desktop version, and then strips it down or re-jiggers it to make it mobile-friendly; it’s not built with mobile as a priority, but instead mobile as a worst-case scenario.

Mobile-first web design

In a mobile-first web design strategy, the design team architects and designs for your small (mobile/tablet) devices first, then extends that design out to larger devices. This can have the effect of a mobile-optimized site, but include bonus features on the desktop, or a mobile user interface that is carried through to all devices as a consistent experience.

A mobile-first web design strategy is increasingly becoming the best approach for website design within specific markets, especially those where a large percentage (or even majority) are visiting a website while mobile. For a restaurant, where many highly motivated people are using their mobile devices to look for a restaurant, or get details on your restaurant, this strategy would be optimal.

In Conclusion

The mobile version of your website, can not be treated as an afterthought -- it might be one of the most important technical marketing decisions you make. Make sure your website is able to easily capture and convert the visitors to your website on all devices they might be using, especially mobile users who will likely be walking into your restaurant in the very near future.

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