What are the essentials of a restaurant chain website? On the most basic level, a restaurant chain site should have a helpful, intuitive location finder, something that utilizes Google Maps. Second, it should include a current menu. People visit restaurant websites to search for a location or to see if there are vegan items for vegan Aunt Wendy. Third, it should have a clearly labeled reservation button (if the restaurant is one of those upscale, reservations-only kind of venues). Finally, the site should be responsively designed so it scales to mobile devices, probably the device most people use to look for a restaurant. But those are the table stakes. The basics.
Once you have those features baked into your site, here are four things you should consider adding to super-charge your restaurant site’s performance.
1. Appetizing Food Shots
This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is where the vast majority of restaurant websites fail. If your photography doesn’t make someone’s mouth water, how do you expect prospective customers to patronize your restaurant? Photography is the easiest––and really most important––way to show off your food. If the photography is poor, the site (and therefore your restaurant) can look low-rent and unappetizing. Take this award-winning TGI FridaysTM international website that Agency Creative designed and developed. The food and beverages are featured front and center on the home page. When you drill deeper into the site, a large close-up photograph of the featured dish greets you with every menu. Remember, customers don’t want to just read what’s on the menu –– they want to see it.
2. Straightforward Navigation and Menu
Make your photography fancy. Make your user experience easy. When it comes to restaurant websites there are only so many things a customer is interested in. Browsing the food and drink selection is probably top of the list, but they may also want to find a location near them or read up on the history of the company. Make the navigation simple, bold and intuitive.
3. A Social Connection
Peer-to-peer reviews are the most powerful form of advertisement for your business. Customers use social media to praise, rant, check in and post pictures of their dish of choice for the night. By incorporating capabilities for Twitter feeds and links to Facebook right on the homepage, you give users the opportunity to tap into other customers’ experiences. Social networks are also a platform for restaurants to tell customers about the latest promotion or deals enticing them to visit.
4. Visual Branding
What kind of art director would I be if I didn’t mention branding? Go to the Apple website. What do you see? Cool chunks of sleek technology, bathed in a milky ocean of white-on-white. Walk into an Apple store. What do you see? The same darn thing. Your website should be evocative of the look, tone and feel of your restaurant chain. Even if you’re a three-unit taco stand, you should strive for consistent branding throughout your site and at each customer touch point. Always leverage your brand assets––colors, typefaces, patterns, etc. Use them to recreate the distinctive mood of your restaurant.
Put these tips into practice and your restaurant site will definitely hit the spot. Need expert help in designing and developing your business’s next website? Contact us today toll-free at 866.642.7559.