The internet and food have always been kindred spirits—you could say they go together like two peas in a pod. Canadians use the internet to research their restaurant options, pin their favourite recipes and no one seems to be able to resist posting a ‘gram of their eggs benedict.
Restaurant websites are a special category that can make us hangry. Hungry because of all the delicious food, and angry because restaurant websites can often be pretty lackluster: PDF menus, hidden phone numbers, and missing pictures of food can lead to lost business.
We understand that quite literally, restaurant owners might have bigger fish to fry than to spend time developing a complex website. With that in mind, we’ve put together a seven tips that any restaurant owner can follow to produce a professional website.
7 tips on how to create a great restaurant website
1. Use a mobile-friendly website builder
A website builder is a great way to build a professional-looking website without facing a massive learning curve. There are plenty of templates and vendors to choose from out there. Squarespace and Wix have some great themed templates specifically for restauranteurs.
Web builders offer no-nonsense tools and features that make building a website a piece of cake. Plus, many of them are designed with a mobile view in mind, so no matter what device your customers are viewing your website on, it will be functional and look great.
2. Be strategic with your menu
One of the primary reasons a potential customer will visit your website is to take a peek at the menu. While your printed menu may be an opportunity to get creative, on your website your menu should be displayed in a way that is easy to read and to navigate.
If a user has to scroll through huge images, click on multiple sections, or sit through useless animations just to find out what you serve, you may lose them.
Your website’s menu may serve a different purpose depending on what kind of restaurant you run. For a pizza joint, it may be worthwhile to announce weekly deals. For a farm-to-table restaurant that changes its menu with the seasons, the website should reflect and highlight what the changes are.
No matter your cuisine, your menu is the most important content on a restaurant’s website and should be accurate and up-to-date at all times. Don’t forget to include nutritional information, allergy warnings, and prices as well.
Also, we know it can be tempting, but please don’t upload a PDF of your menu. This is a common mistake that can sink your website.
Why is using a PDF menu a bad idea? PDFs are difficult to navigate, not mobile-friendly, and a pain to update. The alternative, creating your menu in HTML, makes it easier to update if a menu item or price changes, easy to read on a small screen (with a responsive design), better for SEO (a higher rank for your website in search engines), and the page won’t be called something like Microsoft Word – Supper Menu edited by Justin Manager – V3 FINAL – FINAL – ACTUAL FINAL.docx.
3. Get a good domain name
Your customers are overwhelmingly people in your neighbourhood, in your city and in your area. The best way to show them that you’re a proud local Canadian business is to choose a .CA domain name.
A .CA domain name will help you with your local search rankings and show off your local roots.
Check out our handy search tool to find a domain name and purchase it from a certified registrar. A good domain name is ideally short and sweet, making it easy to remember. Try searching for your restaurant’s name—if it’s taken, you can get creative with a combination of keywords like your location and signature dish.