Building A Restaurant Website: A Guide
Why Do I Need A Website For My Restaurant?
For better or for worse, today's world is as much a digital one as it is a physical one. It's simply not feasible for any restaurant to not exist online anymore. Thankfully, there's a lot of nuance and levels to that decision. You don't need to dive into social media, marketing, or paid advertisements, but having a base website is incredibly advantageous.
At its simplest, you want your restaurant to showcase your menu and any relevant dates, times, and specials. These are all crucial pieces of information that can play a significant factor in winning a consumer's business (ex: I'm a sucker for Taco Tuesdays and will always jump on that). If you're a catering company or a food truck that doesn't have a set time or location, it becomes paramount to communicate when and where you'll be.
Additionally, having a website can boost your Google Business Profile/Apple Business Connect's visibility—two massive players in helping direct local traffic. The better you set up your GBP/ABC, the better chance you have when people search "Italian Food Near Me." These profiles are an area where interested restaurants can really boost their SEO.
Beyond having your menu and key times, other items can set your restaurant up for success, such as:
- First-party Ordering
- Buying Gift Cards Online
- Incentivizing App Downloads
Having a website for your restaurant can make a big difference in bringing interested customers to your business.
Building A Website For A Restaurant
- Establish Your Must-Haves
Building a website is like building a restaurant, a menu, or a shopping list. There are certain things you must have and things that are nice to have. Unfortunately, this part of the to-do list will be particular to your business. A food truck will prioritize a calendar showing where they'll be each day— a fast-casual salad bar will highlight their seasonal ingredients as well as their rotating menu.
You know your business and what information customers need to visit. Make it easy on them and keep that information easily accessible.
- Decide Whether You'll Be Building It Yourself or Hiring Out
This is another question that will primarily be based on you and who you know. Building a website can be relatively straightforward if you know what you're doing. However, if you want to add extras like integrated online ordering, you may want to have a pro knock it out. Many options are available at every price point, meaning that even small restaurants can have a website put together by a pro.
But if you're the industrious type, building it out yourself can introduce many customization options and put you in a position to quickly make changes in the future.
- Choose A Web Hosting Company
For our purposes, these may all be one and the same. Find one with features you'll like/has a price point you're okay with. Some favorites include Wix, GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator, and Squarespace.
Most companies offer a package for new websites that will include domain registration, pre-packaged web design tools, and other utilities to help you get started.
- Pick a URL and Domain Name
You'll need to find and purchase a URL for the website. Typically, you want this to either be the name of your restaurant or something easily recognizable to your customer. Additionally, try not to have atypical extensions on the domain (.net, .ai, .co). .com will be the most familiar with your customer base and should be your default.
- Set Up an Email For the Website
Building any website will need a lot of different accounts with different parts of the process (hosting, designing, plugins, "email us" options), and life gets much simpler if those are all under one roof specifically for your website. Most web hosts allow you to create an email with your business (allowing you to have a @myrestaurant.com email instead of a more general @gmail or @yahoo.com.
- Choose A Website Builder
Thankfully, there are more options today than hand-coding HTML and CSS to have a website. With accessibility at an all-time high, most people can choose a website builder and begin bringing their vision to life. We recommend the following website builders:
- Rated the number 1 website builder on Forbes, Wix is a powerhouse in the website industry. They're a drag-and-drop builder, making it easy for even the least technologically talented among us. They double as a web host and domain provider, serving as a one-stop shop for the entire process.
- A dominant force in the industry, WordPress accounts for over a third of all websites. With an easy-to-use interface and a broad library of resources, you can always build the website of your dreams on WordPress.
- The beauty of Squarespace is in the pre-build templates available. Like Wix, they also offer an all-in-one package with hosting, domain provision, and designer packages.
- One of the more beginner-friendly website builders, GoDaddy allows easy editing and publishing for your website. They also offer all-in-one packaging.
- Hubspot offers website-building services as well as unique analytic tools. These tools will compile your data into easy-to-digest tables and graphs—one of the only website builders that doubles as an analytics powerhouse.
- Duda is a drag-and-drop editor in the simplest form. Intuitive and easy to use, Duda is fairly restrictive in its layouts— but more than makes up for it by having the easiest editing process available.
- Choose a Template or Layout
You want your website to emphasize the most critical parts of your business. For restaurants, that's your menu and serving hours; you also want this information to be extremely easy to access.
Think of your customers as runners in an obstacle course. When they complete the race, they have decided to eat at your restaurant— however, there are certain checkboxes (or obstacles) they have to check off. Our job as website designers is to make that obstacle course as easy as possible so that they can finish the race in record time. This means we want to simplify all the obstacles and remove any pain points from their journey.
This can come into play in a lot of ways— from anything as simple as reducing the number of clicks to access your menu to more complex fixes like designing your menu to convert.
- Set Up Online Ordering
Online ordering is quickly reaching "must have" status for restaurants nationwide. Thankfully, most POS systems make it easy to integrate— often even adding bonuses such as adding a button to your Google Business Profile or Apple Business Connection.
Having your online ordering as part of your website and not strictly with third-party delivery providers like Doordash and UberEats allows you to start utilizing first-party delivery (and saving yourself more money in the process.)
- Test, Fine-Tune, and Launch!
Website building is like writing a paper— your first draft is rarely good enough. Get feedback from family, friends, and trusted customers so that you can iterate and build the best website you can.
When launched, make sure to promote your website so that people know where to find you. Once indexed with Google, you'll start to show up in searches.
Start Website Building Today
Having a website is an integral step of owning a business today— a step that you can now take in confidence as you stride towards a better future for your business.