A great restaurant website can attract new customers, maintain loyal ones, and raise the overall profile of the establishment outside of the physical location.

But how do you put together a great website when you — the restaurant owner or operator — are busy with the many other critical tasks related to running your restaurant?

Well, building the best restaurant website doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or difficult task. In many cases, there are simple things you can build into your website to share the most important information with your frequent and potential guests.

Check out 12 ingredients to create a perfect restaurant website that explains what makes them stand out.

1. Don’t forget the basics: Address, Hours, and Contact Info

Usually, when your guests head to your website, it’s to grab the most basic information: the address, the hours, and a way to contact you. Don’t make it difficult! With this being the #1 thing people are looking for, put it front and center. These basic information should be displayed clearly at the top section of your website.

2. Showcase your menu.

If the #1 thing people are looking for on your website is when and where to find your restaurant, #2 is what they’ll eat when they get there. That means you should be making it very easy to find and browse your menus. Ideally, this will be in webpage format so that it’s easy to click around and search your menu items, but at the very least, you should include a PDF of your latest menus.

Create a simple, beautiful and scannable menu.
Create a simple, beautiful and scannable menu.

3. More content = More customers.

The more content you have on your website, the more opportunities you have to attract and engage guests online. Include all necessary information about your restaurant, your food and maybe some reviews from your loyal customers. A blog is a great way to keep customers coming back to your website and staying engaged with you in between visits. If you’re too busy updating your website, take some time from your day to post pictures of your food to keep your customers engaged.

4. Enable and encourage online ordering.

Online ordering is already widespread and continues to increase in volume across the industry. If you don’t offer online ordering – for takeout and/or delivery – you may be missing out on a huge additional revenue stream. And if you do offer online ordering, make it easy for customers to find it your menu on your website!

With the proliferation of services like Grab Food & FoodPanda, there’s no reason for you not to partner up with them to offer your food on the go. While it’s possible to browse for your menu on their services, the number of pictures and description of your treasured food can be quite limiting. Create a simple, responsive, quick loading menu on your website, and furnish them with the best pictures to salivate your online customers while they’re making up their mind when they’re ordering.

5. Allow reservations.

If you take reservations, make it easy to do on your website instead of pushing your customers over to the phone. Implement an integrated booking system right on your website and make it prominent on your restaurant’s website. This way, your guests can easily see what times are available without having to talk to a host that’s busy handling all the walk-in customers.

Running a restaurant is hard work. Use your restaurant's website to its full potential.
Running a restaurant is hard work. Use your restaurant’s website to its full potential.

6. Start a loyalty program.

Loyalty programs were created to help restaurants reward their best customers and to encourage repeat visits, creating new regulars. Consumers estimate a restaurant loyalty program would increase their visit rate to a restaurant by an average of 35%, and when a customer is about to unlock their loyalty reward, they spend 39% more on average. If you have a loyalty program, don’t just rely on punch cards – make it easy for customers to check their status online, like Costa Vida does through the “Rewards” section of their website.

7. Partner with other organizations to host events.

Many restaurants will run events throughout the week — like Trivia Tuesdays or afternoon Happy Hours — to keep customers coming back at specific, perhaps low traffic, times. This is great content to add to your website and social media accounts to make sure new guests know about the unique things happening at your establishment.

8. Offer gift cards & merchandise online.

If you sell merchandise and/or gift cards in-store, why not also sell them on your website? If you make it easy for your customers to buy gift cards or merchandise, they’ll be more likely to think of you next time they need to buy a present! Also, offering merchandise creates awareness around your restaurant; your customers will be vouching for your brand in everyday life.

9. Link your social accounts & posts.

Social media is one of the best ways to engage with your customers and share great photos and updates from your restaurant. Be sure to link to your social accounts right from your website (and vice versa), and even include a feed of your recent updates and photos — it’s a great way to add more interesting content to your website.

10. Make your website mobile-friendly, fast & responsive.

86% of people check menus online before they come to a restaurant. In 2015 OpenTable Survey, they concluded that customers regularly check out menus online before they dine out.

When they do, many of your visitors will be checking out your website from their smartphones — whether it’s to grab your address while on their way, or to place an online order while sitting on the couch. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and looks good from a phone; otherwise, you risk missing out on a lot of great customers.

11. Collect email addresses for marketing.

Turn your anonymous visitors into known guests you can email by collecting email addresses on your website. It won’t cost you much. Just put a big bowl at the counter of your restaurant for your loyal customers to drop their business cards. Offer them something that is of value, and it will be filled to the brim in no time.

So, what do you do with the business cards? If you have not started a mailing list for your restaurant, now is a good time to do so. With the mailing list setup, you can send your loyal customers exclusive promotions, menu specials, or even fun updates from the staff.

12. Got some press? Put them on your website.

Hopefully, you already have people saying wonderful things about your restaurant. Make sure to highlight press quotes and customer reviews right on your website to make it even more appealing to someone trying to decide where to eat.

#. Summary.

Running a restaurant is hard work. Use your website to its full potential. If you think your restaurant’s website is not helping you enough, check out Essentials for Restaurants. By breaking down these goals into key ingredients, Scellus Essentials covers all the important elements required for a great restaurant website that not only looks good, but drives customers through your doors.

Overwhelmed by all this? Talk to our team and we will guide you all the way.