Building a simple restaurant website doesn’t seem that simple anymore.
In the digital age, restaurants have more competition than ever. Their websites need to be loaded with information and features in order to make them stand out and help them reach guests who are searching for places to eat.
On top of that, there are just so many website builders to choose from; and while many of them offer tools to help restaurateurs build websites, many of the most popular small business website builders aren’t made for restaurants—and it shows.
What today’s restaurateurs are left with is a sea of options—none of them ideal for restaurant websites—and a long list of all the things their website needs to include—if they can ever find a straightforward, affordable way to build it. When all they really want is to build a simple restaurant website that’s fast, easy, affordable, and functional for guests, where should restaurateurs turn?
We have the answer. Read on to learn all restaurateurs need to know to create a website that will help find new guests, increase orders, and boost profits—as well as the only tool you need to build it.
Why Do Restaurants Need Websites?
The research here is pretty clear: The further we get into the digital age, the more necessary it is for restaurants to have websites so they can keep up with their competition and guests’ expectations.
Studies have shown that as many as 90 percent of guests research a restaurant online before visiting it—more than any other business type. Of those, 57 percent checked restaurants’ own websites before making a decision about where to eat.
But what’s even more important than just having a website for your restaurant is having one that gives guests the information they’re looking for. 70 percent of guests have said they’ve decided not to visit a restaurant after seeing it’s website. This shows clearly that it’s not enough to just create a simple restaurant website—you need to treat your website like the marketing tool it is, one that can either help guests find you or turn them off if they don’t like what they see.
But what does that mean? What does a restaurant website need to include to convince guests to pay it a visit? There are a few important trends and factors to consider.
What Should a Restaurant Website Include?
In 2021, around 52 percent of all worldwide search traffic comes from mobile phones. Yet, 95 percent of independent restaurants don’t have a mobile-optimized website.
And while online menus are one of the first things guests look for when researching a restaurant online, studies have shown that only 40 percent of independent restaurants have put their menu online.
These are just a few of the possible reasons guests might visit a restaurant website and ultimately decide not to dine there. If they can’t easily navigate the website on their mobile devices, or can’t find information they want (like an online menu), they might just decide to go elsewhere.
That’s why today’s restaurants need to understand that one of their website uses is a marketing tool. With the right information, your website can help you stay visible to your community, reach new guests, convince them to visit, and bring them back for repeat business.
Here’s what a simple restaurant website should include to achieve this.
Your Basic and Contact Information
This may seem basic, but it’s surprising how many restaurants don’t include the most simple—yet necessary—information on their websites. One of the first things to make sure your simple restaurant website includes is all the basic information guests might be looking for—your address, phone number, hours of operation, ordering information, and anything else guests should know. Make sure it's displayed prominently in an easy-to-find place—like your website’s footer—so it’s accessible from the homepage, menu, and any other page on your site.
A link to a site like Google Maps can also be helpful for guests who want to see where your restaurant is, or read reviews.
In addition to these basics, it’s important for your restaurant website’s design to match your restaurant. If you decorate your spaces with bright colors, use the same bright colors on your website. Match the typography you use on your menus and signs. A fine dining restaurant website might be more refined, while a fast-casual spot can use animations and fun graphics to help draw guests in.
An Online Menu
But not just any online menu. Many restaurants cut corners here, simply uploading the same PDF version of their menu that they use for printing physical copies. Here’s the problem with that: When more than half of internet search traffic comes from mobile devices, this can create a terrible experience for potential guests, who will have to pinch and zoom to read a PDF menu on a small screen.
Instead, restaurants need online menus that are mobile-optimized. Menus should also be search-engine optimized (SEO), meaning they’re written in text that Google can read and analyze to help guests find your website when they search for certain dishes or cuisines.
Research also shows that using an online menu with lots of images can help boost sales. When guests are exploring an online menu or placing an online order, they want to see mouth-watering photos of menu items, from apps to desserts. Making sure your website uses high-quality photos can help your dining experience stand out.
Online Ordering and Delivery
It’s no secret that online ordering and delivery have exploded in popularity, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many restaurants to close to indoor and in-person dining. By the end of 2020, 60 percent of Americans said they ordered takeout at least once a week. 31 percent said they ordered delivery at least twice per week.
But its popularity isn’t the only reason to make sure you offer online ordering and delivery—it can also boost your restaurant’s bottom line. Studies show that guests tend to spend more when they order food online—up to $50 more per order, according to one study.
These are just a few of the reasons it’s so important to offer a direct online ordering system (and delivery, if possible) on your restaurant’s website. More and more guests are turning to takeout and delivery to support their favorite restaurants, and not giving them the option to order online means missing out on potential revenue from all those sales.
Contactless Dining Tools
Another restaurant industry trend that was accelerated by the pandemic is contactless dining—meaning guests use tools like QR codes to view menus and place orders from their own devices, even when dining in-person at a restaurant. This gives guests control over their dining experience and cuts down on touchpoints that are shared between other guests and staff, which can make dining out safer, even during the pandemic.
When looking for a platform to build your restaurant’s website, it’s important to look for contactless dining tools, like online menus, ordering, and payment, as well as QR code generation, to make the process seamless for guests.
And finally, to take full advantage of your website as a marketing tool, it needs to be able to integrate with other marketing channels your restaurant uses.
You should be able to use pop-ups on your website to advertise events, specials, happy hours, or your newsletter. Your website should integrate with your social media so guests can follow your restaurant across channels. You should offer gift cards for sale online to encourage more visits from guests. And, most importantly, you need marketing tools so you can capture guest data from reservations and online orders and remarket to guests after they visit—encouraging them to come back a second time, or even become loyal regulars.
There are plenty more features and tools that can help the best restaurant websites stand out, but these basics are must-haves. So how hard is it to create a great restaurant website that includes all these features—and is easy and affordable to maintain? Unfortunately, it can be harder than you think.
What’s Wrong With Small Business Website Builders?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with website builders that are geared toward small businesses, like Wordpress, Squarespace, and the many other popular options restaurant owners can choose from.
These website builders often offer both free and affordable paid plans to cater to the small businesses that need them to fit into a budget, and that’s great for restaurants. They also have easy-to-use interfaces, so business and restaurant owners without web design skills can still use them.
But here’s where many popular website builders fall short: While they may have features available that are designed just for restaurants, the website builders themselves are for all small businesses (usually with a heavy focus on e-commerce), and not made with restaurant business needs in mind.
Things like online menus and direct online ordering modules are available, but often as add-ons or plug-ins—and often only as part of a premium membership or for an extra price.
While many independent restaurants have built their own restaurant websites using website builders for small businesses, wouldn’t you rather use a platform that’s made just for restaurants, with all the functionality they need to wow their guests—and own their entire online presence?
That platform is Popmenu.
How to Build a Simple Restaurant Website in 3 Easy Steps
Popmenu is already the all-in-one digital toolkit for modern restaurants. But now, with our new Indie package, we’re making restaurant website design easier and more streamlined than ever. In just 3 simple steps, you can design and create a high-quality website that showcases all your restaurant has to offer.
Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Create Your My.Pop Account
You’ll then be prompted to enter your restaurant information, and your personal information, which will be used to create your My.Pop account.
Step 2: Choose Your Template
Popmenu’s Indie package comes with a variety of pre-built website templates inspired by the best restaurant website designs. Choose the website template that best fits your restaurant, but don’t worry if it’s not a perfect fit, you can always change your restaurant template later. All our templates are fully customizable—you’re in charge of the content, headers, fonts, color scheme, user experience, and more—so you can make sure your website matches your restaurant’s in-person branding.
Step 3: Subscribe to Your Free Trial
Your website will be ready to view in just seconds. All that’s left to do is sign up for your 7-day free trial of Popmenu’s Indie package, so you can explore your new website—and all the other tools and features Popmenu offers modern restaurants.
Popmenu is so much more than just a website builder for your restaurant. Our Indie package also offers our patented, one-of-a-kind online menu technology, contactless dining features, automated remarketing tools, Google My Business integration, and so much more. Popmenu is the only platform that’s built just for restaurants, designed to meet all their digital needs.
Ready to own your online presence—from first impression to final bite? Sign up for your free 7-day trial of Popmenu Indie today.