Diners are turning to online ordering in increasing numbers because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on on-premise dining. According to a survey conducted by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 40% of Americans are ordering more food for takeout and delivery now than they were before the pandemic.
This rise in digital interactions has made it critical for restaurants to have well-designed websites. After all, intuitive design and up-to-date information can turn a website visitor into a paying customer.
In this ultimate restaurant website design guide for beginners, you’ll learn:
How to prepare for a restaurant website design makeover
Whether you’re creating your restaurant website design from scratch or giving your existing website a makeover, you have a big project on your hands. Here are six steps to take before opening any restaurant website builders.
Restaurant website design: Taking a DIY approach vs. hiring a web development team
Consider whether you want to build your restaurant's website or hire someone to do it for you. Consider these key questions:
- Do I have the skills to complete this project?
- Do I have the time to build my restaurant’s website?
- Do I have the budget to hire a web development team?
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you make your decision:
Choose the right restaurant website builder
Choosing the right platform for your restaurant's website is critical to its success. Each platform has a different cost, capabilities, limitations, and integrations. The right restaurant website builder can make it easy for you to make updates and integrate your tech partners, while the wrong tool can get in the way of business.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the most popular restaurant website builders to consider:
Restaurant Website Builders Comparison
Check out the competition
Studying competitors’ websites before creating your own is essential. When you understand what makes a restaurant's website successful, you can emulate those features on your website.
“Collect” websites that you admire to serve as inspiration for your restaurant website design makeover by bookmarking links when you come across them. Observe what makes these websites appealing. Jot these observations down and save them for when you’re ready to build your website. Use these notes to inform your website's aesthetic and functionalities.
It’s equally helpful to gather examples of restaurant websites that you think are bad and note what to avoid on your website.
Plan your key pages
Prepare content for these critical pages on your website:
- Home page - The home page should convey to visitors what kind of restaurant you have and what type of food it serves. Add photos and videos to show customers what they can expect. Include essential information like the restaurant's address, hours, and phone number. Share press and customer reviews for external validation.
- About - People find it easier to connect with other people, rather than with businesses. Share your restaurant’s story on the about page. Include photos of the people who made the restaurant possible, like your family or your team.
- Menu - Your menu page is one of the most important pages of your restaurant's website. Rather than uploading a PDF of the menu, create a text-based web page for it. This method is mobile-friendly and makes your menu easily searchable.
- COVID-19 updates - Tell customers what you’re doing to keep them safe whether they dine in with you or get takeout. Check out this example from Barcelona Wine Bar for inspiration.
- Contact - Beyond your phone number and address, which should be in the footer of every page, you need a contact page to let people know how to reach you for catering, press, events, and career inquiries.
- Reservations - Embed your reservations platform’s widget onto your website to encourage customers to book directly through you instead of via a third party.
- Online ordering - Ditto. Allow customers to place takeout and delivery orders through your website.
- Catering - If applicable, include a page with information about catering, including your menu, contact information, and catering policies.
- Careers - Use this page to share your values and job openings, and explain why your restaurant is a great place to work.
Ensure a good user experience by making the content of each page on your restaurant's website unique.
Hire content creators to execute content for your restaurant website design project
It’s critical for your website to be well-written and contain appealing visuals. Why?
A website filled with punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes could discredit your business's legitimacy and impede comprehension.
Food photography that makes your food look less than appetizing keeps customers away, whereas high-quality photography turns hungry website visitors into customers.
Consider hiring freelance writers, photographers, and videographers to create multimedia content for your website. Find the right people by asking for recommendations from other restaurateurs. You can also use freelance service databases like Fiverr and UpWork to find the right professionals.
If you have a low budget, contact local colleges and ask them to put you in touch with art or English students who are looking for opportunities to build their portfolios.
Create a wireframe
Wireframes are blueprints for web pages. They show you where page elements like text, images, and buttons go.
Create wireframes for each page of your website. You can draw them by hand or with the help of an online sketching tool. If you need inspiration, refer to your collection of competitors’ websites.
Use your wireframes as guides to help you find the perfect template for your website.
Recommended Reading: Simple Restaurant Marketing Plan for 2020
How to build your restaurant’s website
You’ve done all you can to prepare for your restaurant website design or redesign. Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to start creating!
1. Choose a template
Most popular website builders create several templates with restaurants in mind, like Shopify’s templates for restaurants. Refer to your wireframes to find templates that resemble what you had in mind for your website. Read reviews of the templates and make sure that the one you choose is easy to customize so that you can update it later.
Also, consider things like:
- Sleek, modern design
- Mobile-friendly design (look for a "responsive" template)
- Customizable branding
- Features like navigation and galleries
2. Customize the template
Next, customize the template to transform it from its default look into the vision you had in mind for your website. Use this checklist to execute the transition properly:
- Customize your website’s branding. Swap out the preset settings for your restaurant’s logo, colors, and fonts.
- Add the content you created in steps four and five of the last section to your website.
- Customize the navigation. Include essential pages like "Menu," "About Us," "Contact," "Reserve," and "Order Now" in the navigation bar.
- Place call-to-action buttons strategically throughout your website, paying particular attention to above-the-fold content.
3. Setup integrations
Make your website work hard for your business by setting up integrations with your restaurant’s tech partners, like your online ordering, reservations, e-commerce, and marketing tools.
With these integrations, your website can take orders and reservations, sell merchandise, and capture visitor data so that you can market your business to website visitors and turn them into customers. Contact your tech partners' customer success representatives for help integrating their capabilities into your website.
Don’t forget to see what other integrations your website builder offers. For example, Shopify’s app store lets you connect more than 90 CRMs and 600 marketing tools to your website.
4. Publish your restaurant’s website
If you have perfectionistic tendencies, you may put off publishing your restaurant website design project for months while you tinker away, making small changes. Instead of trying to achieve perfection, think of your website as a constant work in progress. Publish it when you have a minimum viable product, and revisit it to make improvements after getting feedback.
Optimize your restaurant’s website with feedback
Improve your website by asking yourself, your team, family, friends, colleagues, and loyal customers these questions:
- Is my website mobile-friendly? Can customers see menu items without zooming in on a PDF? Is the font large enough to read on a small screen?
- Does the website have the right functionality? Depending on your goals, you may need extra functionality such as online ordering, booking a table, and local delivery. Integrations make this easy.
- Is my website's branding consistent with the restaurant's branding? Your website is the digital incarnation of your brick-and-mortar space. Make sure your website and restaurant follow to the same brand guidelines.
Use a combination of these techniques to make sure customers visit your website.
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps people find your website via Google and other search engines. Most internet activity starts with a search engine. If customers can’t find your restaurant on Google, what’s the point of a restaurant website design makeover?
Your website needs to show up at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for your restaurant’s name because the first search result gets about one-third of all web traffic for a keyword phrase.
Follow these SEO best practices to ensure your restaurant’s website ranks high on SERPs:
- Add a blog to your website and update it regularly.
- Make sure every page on your website has at least 500 words of text on it.
- Include keywords related to your restaurant on each page, including branded terms like your restaurant’s name and unbranded terms like, “best Thai food Saskatoon.”
- Include your restaurant’s address in your website’s footer.
Google Ads, previously known as AdWords, appear above organic search results on Google. Bid for your restaurant’s name on Google Ads. Otherwise, third-party platforms will bid on it so that your profile on their platform appears above your website, which takes revenue away from your restaurant in the form of commission fees.
Organic social media
Include links to your restaurant's website on its social media profiles, like in the Instagram bio, Twitter bio, and “About Me” section on Facebook.
Social media is a great place to engage with customers. Still, it can’t be your only online presence because if these social media platforms disappear, then you'd lose your ability to communicate with customers online! Taking the time for a restaurant website design project ensures your business will always have a home online.
Paid social media
Cover all of your bases by paying for ads via social media platforms to bring potential customers to your restaurant’s website. This technique usually works well if there’s an offer you can give customers, like a coupon.
Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can manage ads for both platforms from the same dashboard.
Google My Business listing
Claim and optimize your restaurant’s Google My Business listing, which lets you add your restaurant to Google Maps and share information about your business through Google's SERP.
With a Google business listing, you can:
- Share critical information like business hours, your address, and phone number
- Update holiday hours
- Let customers know about COVID-19 safety measures
- Post announcements and events
- Ask customers to write reviews
- Add links to online ordering and reservations platforms
As part of an effort to support restaurants during the pandemic, Google now lets restaurants highlight their preferred links for online ordering and reservations. This change helps restaurants avoid paying commission fees to third-party platforms that appear on their Google listing.
On-premise website marketing
Let on-premise customers know about your website through posters and comment cards with a QR code or URL that leads customers to your website. Create a lead capture offer, like 10% off their next visit, to entice people to visit your website and sign up for your email list.
Recommended Reading: How to Market & Talk to Your Customers During COVID-19
5 Inspirational restaurant website design ideas
We've taught you everything you need to know to make an impressive and effective website for your restaurant. Now check out these real-world restaurant website design ideas for inspiration.
1. The Burger’s Priest
If you’re stumped about what to include on your restaurant’s careers page, look no further than the Burger’s Priest. The Ontario QSR's careers page shines for several reasons.
First, it uses on-brand language, like “our only master is the almighty burger.”
Second, the layout creates a great user experience. The most important feature — the “Apply Now” button — is above the fold.
Third, the page features photos of team members working hard and enjoying work. These non-generic images help applicants picture themselves working at the restaurant.
2. Taste Hospitality Group
Check out Taste’s site for hospitality group website ideas. It shows what pages to include when you don’t need to display a food menu on your website, and instead need to use your website for other business objectives.
If you own a hospitality group, take a page from Taste's book and include pages about your company’s origin, catering, events, and gift cards. Don’t forget to spotlight your restaurants, like Taste does below the fold of its homepage.
3. Altamarea Group
Here’s another hospitality group website to emulate. You can immediately tell that this group represents upscale restaurants from its sophisticated layout and images.
The most interesting feature on the homepage is the images that turn into buttons and reveal text when you hover over them.
Bareburger’s website emulates the brand's exciting personality. It features quirky illustrations and sans background food images that mimic billboards.
The QSR makes its online ordering button stand out by animating it with a delivery bag riding a skateboard.
Don’t miss their FAQs page, which likely contributes to the website's SEO power.
5. World Famous Hotboys
Oakland’s World Famous Hotboys’ website goes against the grain of design conventions. Their playful page is an homage to the early days of website design and is equipped with a spammy-looking popup and flaming cursor.
Don’t let the website's quirkiness fool you. It looks basic but has modern functionalities like a mobile-friendly design, online ordering and e-commerce capabilities, and an email newsletter sign up form.
Takeaways: Command your restaurant’s online presence with a website
It’s more important now than ever to build a website to control the narrative around your restaurant and maximize revenue. Use your restaurant’s website to get orders and reservations, attract talent, book catering, and sell products.
The DIY approach to restaurant website design is a cost-effective route to take. Fortunately, restaurant website builders like Shopify and Squarespace make it easy to create a professional-looking website without coding skills.