Your website is the new front door of your business.
The internet is the go-to destination when searching for a place to eat. That makes it important for restaurants to have an online presence and make a good first impression – the guest experience starts with that first click. And you only get 50 milliseconds.
The good news is that creating an engaging website for your restaurant, bistro or bar doesn’t require extensive coding or design skills. You can create a website all by yourself, and we’ll show you how below.
The goal of a restaurant's website is to get customers to make a reservation, buy gift cards, find information about the events and experiences offered and learn about the brand story.
Don’t think of your website as an online brochure. And don’t think that a Facebook page works as a substitute.
A website is an extension of your restaurant. It needs to be as engaging as the actual guest experience and answer the questions your guests have – like how to book a table.
New and existing guests expect to find your business online. Whether you’re opening a new restaurant or updating an existing website, follow these 5 basic steps to get started.
A CMS (content management system) is a website building platform that builds your website (usually with templates) hosts and manages it. With the right CMS, you don’t have to create a website from scratch or know anything about coding.
Read reviews of different platforms before committing to one. This is the foundation of your website and determines how easy or difficult it is to design and manage.
Here are 4 of the top platforms for building a restaurant website:
Your domain name is the part that comes after the www. Ours is superbexperience. Since your restaurant or bar already has a name, use it.
We suggest you pay for your domain name instead of using the free one that comes with most web-building platforms (like yourrestaurant.example-free-website.com) and use your restaurant name to avoid any confusion.
All of the platforms in Step 1 do this for you – you just have to pay.
This is the fun part. Website content includes the words and images on each page. It’s there to guide visitors towards actions – make a dinner reservation, purchase a gift card, prepay for an experience.
We’ll take you through the must-have website content below.
Once your content is mapped out and your domain secure, it’s time to actually build your website.
You can either hire someone to do it – in which case you only have to worry about step 3 of this list – or choose one of the many templates from your CMS and do it yourself.
Always design and optimise your website with smartphone users in mind. Optimising for mobile use means that anyone using phones and tablets can use your site.
Update your restaurant website with new images, menu items and events as they happen. The last thing you want is for your website to look forgotten or old – not a great welcome for new customers.
Check with your CMS and web-building platform regularly to see what updates are available.
The truth is, you’re already an expert on the subject. Just think of how many websites you’ve visited.
What did they all have in common? The best ones answered your questions and had the information you were looking for. If they didn’t, you probably went back to Google and searched again.
Your restaurant’s website should include the answers to someone’s search. Think about why someone is there.
For most restaurants, bars and cafes, people are there to:
New, first-time customers are searching for a place to eat and probably comparing your website to other restaurants in the area. That’s why it’s important to stand out, look professional and provide the answers to their questions – opening hours, how to book a table, type of food offered, etc.
Returning guests are on your website to make a reservation, buy a gift card, pre-pay for an event or order take-out. That information needs to be easily found and not hidden behind a thousand clicks.
Your website is no different from your actual space. Could you imagine someone walking around your restaurant for 15 minutes before someone greets them? Or end up in the kitchen when they’re trying to pay the bill?
The same care that went into planning the guest experience and functionality of your restaurant must go in your website, too.
Straightforward navigation is always more user-friendly than complex and difficult. Anything that confuses a guest will lose that guest.
Start by thinking about the problem you’re solving for guests. They’re probably hungry. How do you show them that you provide the guest experience and food that they’re after?
Content ideas that are important to have on your restaurant website:
Superb’s Guest Experience Management platform (GXM) makes creating your restaurant website even easier.
With GXM, you’ll have a reservation experience that connects with your website and houses bookings, gift cards, events, tickets and experiences in one place. And it’s designed to match your brand and work on any smartphone, tablet or desktop.
The pages contain the content of your website. Only include pages and elements (like the footer) that add or improve the customer’s overall experience.
The first page of your website is the homepage. From there, every other page is a web page or a landing page.
If your website is the front door of your restaurant… the homepage is the door opened, leading people inside. And it’s your one chance to make a first impression.
This section should be clean and uncluttered, providing the most important information which visitors need to know straight away – the name of your bar or restaurant, the type of food and drink you focus on and your business hours.
Visitors aren't detectives. Clearly state what type of restaurant you are. If you serve authentic Italian food, write “authentic Italian food” on your homepage. Sounds like a no-brainer, but many restaurants forget it.
Adding eye-catching visuals to your homepage is always a good practice and sets up the feel and vibe of your restaurant or bar.
The best way to get new and returning customers through your actual door is to have them book a table right from your website.
With Superb, you don’t have to create a separate page, just create a “Book a Table button” on your homepage.
Superb’s GXM platform allows you to customise your reservations and let guests book a table, choose add-ons (like a wine menu) and even pre-pay to avoid no-shows. Your team will be able to manage reservations (and everything else Superb offers) plus gather guest data in one platform.
The ultimate goal of your website is to increase conversions. For restaurants, that means getting people to visit your business. Provide clear contact details and, if possible, link to Google maps.
On your contact page, mention your opening hours, location(s), phone number, email and link to your social media accounts.
If you have a newsletter, add a subscribe button here or on your homepage. If you don't have a newsletter, you’re missing out on potential revenue! Check out how to start yours in our comprehensive guide.
The “About” page is where you share the story of your brand and what makes it unique. It gives your visitors (especially new ones) a feel of your restaurant and a glimpse of the guest experience to come.
Here are a few ideas to start your About page:
Providing more details will differentiate you from the competition.
The header and footer on your website are elements, not pages. Depending on the design you go for, most headers display on every page, making it easy for visitors to switch back and forth.
Some restaurants choose a standard header, with every word visible across the top, and others go for a hamburger menu (3 small lines at the top of each page that open with choices).
The footer does the same as the header but lives at the bottom of the page. Once a guest has scrolled down, the footer makes it easy for them to take another action without scrolling back to the top.
Place your most important contact information, opening hours and social media links in the footer of your website so it’s accessible from every page.
How do you set your restaurant website apart from all the others out there? Give it the same respect and attention that you give your food and the guest experience at your business. And taking our advice below won’t hurt either.
Creating a website that is easy to use is important for anyone. But with more than 50% of all web traffic coming through mobile phones, you must design your site for mobile users first.
Google reports that 61% of mobile users are unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing, and 40% will visit a competitor’s site instead.
Simplify your content and navigation so it looks better on smaller screens. Keep that in mind when creating any images with text on them, too. You want all font sizes to be legible on mobile screens.
The good news is that most web-building platforms have built-in optimisation for desktops, tablets and smartphones. That means your restaurant’s website will look good across all devices. But it’s still worth going over the amount of content you put in to make changes as you see fit.
Use this tool to check if your restaurant website is optimised for mobile users: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
The ‘fold’ is the portion of a web page that’s visible without scrolling. The name comes from the days when newspapers were on newsstands, folded in half so passersby could only see the top half of the front page. That top half had to catch their attention, or they wouldn't stop to purchase a paper.
The same goes for your website. According to research, the first 10 seconds of a page visit are critical to grab a reader’s attention.
The fold is the first part of your homepage (and every web page) where you put the most important information and a call to action (CTA). A call to action is copy (text) that is there to cause action – like make a reservation or view a menu.
While putting the good stuff above the fold is important, it’s not a make-or-break decision. As screen sizes on smartphones continue to grow and shrink and grow again, people are comfortable scrolling for information.
With that in mind, put the most important information at the top and then tell a story to your audience as they scroll down, allowing them to learn more and guiding them to the CTAs so it's clear what the next steps are.
Great photos can say so much about your food, atmosphere, staff and even price range. See how Brace uses high-quality images to draw you down the page.
Start with a strong image first – something that sets up the feel of the website and your brand. Maybe it’s a shot of the food, the staff or the interior. Then, continue with images that match each other in tone, feel and colour.
Photographing your food and drinks is the obvious way to go, but don’t forget to use interior shots to show the atmosphere in your restaurant or bar.
Taking professional photographs doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive, and there are plenty of tools available to help you edit photos.
Loading speed is how fast your site shows up when someone types in the address or visits your site from another link. If you only have 10 seconds to catch someone’s attention, your site’s loading speed can make the difference between someone staying or leaving.
Check with your CMS for ways to make pages load quicker. Most platforms have help centres and articles focused on increasing loading speed.
It’s tempting to upload your menu as an image or pdf file and call it a day. The problem is that mobile users have trouble reading the menu or have to drag and pan around a file to see what’s offered.
Instead, type your menu into your website so the platform can automatically resize as needed for different devices.
Add links (or icons like The Sixteen Twelve did here) to your footer that take visitors to your social media.
This gives you a chance to showcase even more of who your restaurant is, the food you serve and even behind-the-scenes moments.
And now that your website is set up, don’t forget to link all social sites back to your website.
What’s in it for me? That’s the question people have when they come to your website. They’ve come for answers, and it’s your job to provide those.
Use “you” and “your” to keep your writing focused on the reader and less “we” and “I”.
Headlines help a visitor navigate your site. In your CMS, they’re called headlines, headings or H1, H2, etc. Look back through this blog post to see how we’ve used headlines to highlight each section. Use one H1 on each page (the title) and continue with H2 headlines for everything else.
Website visitors are skimmers and scan information. There’s no need to write a novel because visitors are there for your food and the guest experience. Keep CTAs – reservation links, gift cards, etc. – clearly marked and easily located.
When you’ve finished writing the copy, give it a rest and come back the next day with fresh eyes to check for errors. And check out free grammar tools like Grammarly and Hemingwayapp for help.
After you’ve put in the work to write and design a delicious website, the next step is to promote and maintain it.
Learning how to make, write and promote a website is no small feat, even with our guide to help along the way. But the results of having a website outweigh the time it takes to get it done.
Your website is your front door. Take the time to get it right. You’ll be glad you did.