These days, restaurants have two storefronts: the physical space, and their digital space. Guests are searching for the next place to make a reservation, order online, inquire about catering or purchase gift cards for a loved one. With 500,000 restaurants across the nation, standing out among the competition online is the key to success. For restaurants, an optimized website that best reflects the brand, cuisine and dining experience is the difference-maker. But what exactly makes a website truly great? We put together a list of nine essential website elements that make restaurants stand out online against the competition.
Restaurant websites are designed to reflect a restaurant's brand and provide a stellar user experience that converts more visitors into paying customers. These are the nine essential elements that make up a great restaurant website in 2021.
The website is mobile-friendly and responsive to all devices
We live in a mobile-first world. 70% of visitors to restaurant websites come from a mobile device. Therefore, the importance of having a mobile-friendly and responsive website is mandatory for ranking higher in search results and providing a best-in-class user experience. Mobile optimization isn't just about SEO. Websites that are optimized for mobile are more digitally accessible, further protecting a business from ADA-related issues.
Crucial information like contact info, hours and location are front and center
Visitors to a restaurant's website are looking for crucial information like hours of operation, address and contact information. Visitors who have to sift through pages to find this information are more likely to leave the website and move on to another. Displaying key information front and center is critical to converting online visitors into paying customers and future regulars.
Easy-to-update menus that are text-based (not PDFs or images)
Just as online visitors are looking for up-to-date hours and contact information, they're also looking to view food and drink menus. Restaurants must prioritize a website that reflects their most up-to-date offerings. By having text-based menus, it's simple for restaurant operators to quickly make edits or remove 86'd items. Furthermore, PDF and image-based menus are not readable to search engines or assistive technology, impacting search results and leaving the restaurant vulnerable to ADA-related issues.
Contact forms for catering and private event inquiries
Restaurant websites are robust for many reasons, whether as a place to highlight the latest offerings or updated operations. It's also a place for visitors to contact the restaurant about on-premise and off-premise events. That's why it's crucial for restaurants to have a website with contact forms that allow visitors to inquire about catered or private events — thus driving more high-margin revenue that boosts a restaurant’s bottom line.
Reservation and online ordering buttons are visible on every page
Once a visitor lands on a restaurant's website, it should be simple for them to book a table or order pickup or delivery directly through the website. The best restaurant websites promote reservations and online ordering in their top navigation and even utilize always-present buttons on mobile to drive more online orders and bookings, turning more visitors into paying customers.
Gift cards, merchandise, event tickets or catering can be purchased directly on the website
Websites of today are key revenue generators for restaurants. Whether it's through the sale of gift cards, merchandise like t-shirts and cookbooks, tickets for special events or even an online catering platform, a restaurant website should be well equipped with eCommerce capabilities. Rather than relying on numerous third-party partners and copious integrations, restaurants should elect to partner with a restaurant website provider that offers all this and more in one easy-to-use system.
The website is simple to navigate, manage and update
Restaurant operators are busy and should not be held captive by the long wait times and high fees that typical design agencies quote when changes are needed. Restaurants can take back control with an all-in-one system that makes editing menus, creating events, managing online orders and more, simple and intuitive. After all, the website is a direct reflection of a restaurant's storefront and should be easy to manage.
Beautiful, relevant photography that is optimized for the web
Photographs of the restaurant's cuisine and atmosphere are what convert online visitors into actual diners. That's why restaurants need to invest in beautiful, relevant photography to showcase across their website. Images speak for themselves and sell the visitor before they even step foot in the restaurant.
The platform is certified to WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standards
Websites are considered a public realm under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, restaurants are held responsible for ensuring that their websites are digitally accessible to anyone online. Restaurants must align with the ADA and WCAG guidelines to avoid the potential for ADA-related lawsuits and to be on par with the latest online accessibility standards.
BentoBox is a website, eCommerce and marketing platform for restaurants. We apply these essential elements to create websites that work for restaurants while they focus on running the day-to-day.
We design websites for over 7,000 restaurants worldwide to drive high-margin revenue and connect with guests including José Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup and Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group.
Sign up for a free BentoBox demo today to see how BentoBox can help your restaurant's digital storefront drive more awareness and high-margin revenue online.