When you own a restaurant or café, an effective restaurant website design is essential to have. In the current digital age, you just can’t go without one.
There are plenty of tips and tricks on the internet that talk about what a ‘good restaurant website’ should include, but often, they just blaze over things like ‘have professional pictures’ and ‘include your menu’. Things quite obvious, but also: secondary. Because first and foremost, you need to decide the purpose of your website and the message you want to communicate.
In this article, I will share with you 5 strategic decisions you should make before you get your website designed.
‘Who’ is your restaurant?
Who do you serve?
Other online outlets
1. ‘Who’ is your restaurant?
If you thought I just made a typo: I didn’t. I actually meant ‘who’. Before you find someone to design your website (or you get your hands dirty trying to make one yourself), you should think about the personality of your restaurant. What’s your style? How do you talk? How do you ‘dress’ yourself?
Think of your restaurant as a person at a party (possibly pre-COVID times). How do you come off to other people?
Here is a simple ‘fill in the blank’ that we use in our website onboarding process for our own new clients. Hopefully, this will help you to.
[name brand] is the [describe kind of person] at [place] who you easily recognize because of his/her [kind of] style. He/she is [characteristics] and likes [things he/she likes]. He/she wears [describe clothing] and is [further description]. The thing people remember most about [name brand] is [thing].
The 5 keywords that describe [name brand] the best, are:
Now, this might look superduper vague to you, so here are two examples we’ve made for clients of ours.
Ich Bin Ein Hamburger is that friend you meet on the street and recognize because of his elegant style. He's decent, likes jazz and a good glass of wine. He enjoys a pleasant evening out with friends and/or family. The thing people remember most about Ich Bin Ein Hamburger, is his remarkable moustache.
The 5 keywords that describe Ich Bin Ein Hamburger perfectly are:
• Complex • Honest • Idealistic • Passionate • Romantic
Carras is your warm friend from Den Bosch (city in the Netherlands), who you meet at a party and is easily recognized because of her colourful clothing. She is a typical ‘Brabander’ (person from this province) with a global mindset. She is interested in everything and everyone, loves art and travelling, and is always positive. During the weekend, she likes to enjoy a good party. The thing people remember most about Carras is her radiant smile.”
The 5 keywords that describe Carras perfectly:
• Cozy • Global citizen • Family lover • Colorful • Surprising
Need an example of how this play out in a website? Well, let’s have a look at this website: https://www.meetthegreek.com.au/about
I bet you can define the ‘Who’ of Meet the Greek: Meet the Greek is a fun, friendly and food-loving family man, who you meet when you’re strolling down the streets in a typical Greek town. He loves his country’s traditions and his favourite thing to do is to have dinner with his whole family. The thing people remember most about Meet the Greek is his hospitality and kindness.
2. Who do you serve?
Once you know who you are, you should decide who you serve. Some people may argue you should do this the other way around (first decide who you serve, then design your own brand), but I don’t agree.
I think it’s much better to first clearly state who you are and then to sketch out an image of your desired guests. This way you can be rest assured that you are (mainly) dealing with people you intrinsically want to host. People flock to brands that match their interests. Hence you want people who match the brand you desire to build, right?
You may have an idea of your ideal guest vaguely inside your head, but planning out your buyer persona will help so much in designing a profitable and effective website. It’ll help to guide you in essential design principles. Like how you name certain menu items, or which items should be highlighted.
A buyer persona can be summarized in a few sentences, but the deeper you dive into this subject, the better. We set-up a free buyer persona guide which you can use to create yours.
No better example for this than the website of Conscious Hotels. Yes, this is a hotel, but their website is equally relevant. The people that will ‘flock’ to them? Eco-minded people, those who want to stay at a place that aims to improve the world, one step at a time! https://www.conscioushotels.com/
3. Essential messages for your restaurant website
So now you know who you are and who you want to serve. The next step you want to take is to write down your essential messages. In our onboarding process, we help people do this by providing them 3 different fill in the blank templates for a variety of pages. The most important ones the texts for the homepage and ‘about’ page of your restaurant.
I recommend you to keep your restaurant website texts short and sweet, packed with your essential messages.
1: What do you want people to remember about you when they leave?
2: How do you want people to describe you to their friends?
3: What do you offer now, that you’ll still offer in 5 years time? (E.g.: vegan food, the best wines, good internet)
Once you know the answers to these questions, you should waive them into all elements on your restaurant website. The texts, the photos, the design.
A good example? https://abnormal.co/. The website of this restaurant aims to do one thing: show you what they want you to remember: they are abnormal.
4. Structured Design
Make your restaurant website design well-structured. Easy to navigate. Too often I see restaurants where essential navigation items are missing, such as ‘menu’ or ‘contact’.
Remember why people come to your restaurant website. They are not there to compare two types of gadgets or to learn more about a specific recipe. They are there because either they want to check out your menu, know your openings hours, find your contact details or to make a reservation. Those 4 things, therefore, should be easy to find.
Don’t make your website a labyrinth. Keep it easy. Like https://kaafi.nl/ does.
5. Other online outlets
Your website should stay up to date, but it is not the best spot to constantly bombard with new photos. Use other online platforms, like social media, for those purposes. Or opt for an integrated social media feed, that automatically updates, and dedicate a specific page to this.
When you use WordPress, there are plenty of plugins you can install which to showcase your Instagram and/or Facebook feed. These plugins are often very light-weight and a big benefit is that it will drive more people to your social media accounts, too.
An example would be the ‘Peek Inside’ page of Appeltje Eitje: https://www.appeltjeeitjedenhaag.nl/gallery-appeltje-eitje/
There is a whole lot more to talk about when it comes to restaurant web design. Once you dive deeper, you’ll learn about the importance of good and solid hosting, security, SSL certificates, booking systems, SEO, responsive design, analytics and back-ups.
Does that sound overwhelming? I understand. But don’t stress. We can help. And remember, it all starts with the strategy. Hence I recommend you to figure out these 5 points before you touch even the slightest ‘string of code’.