This article is part of our Restaurant Business Startup Guide—a curated list of articles to help you plan, start, and grow your restaurant business!
You’ve just opened the doors to your restaurant and had a great first week. But you know that more of your potential customers are at home, hungry, and searching Google for a great place to eat dinner. A website for your restaurant will make it easier for a potential customer to find out that you exist, and see that you’re open until 9 pm tonight, and map your address so they know exactly how to get to you.
If you don’t have a website yet, you need one. And even if you have one, you might be missing key elements that your hungry customers expect to find. Here are three tips on what information you should include on your website, and how to quickly and easily set up a website for your restaurant so you can get more customers through your doors.
1. Don’t make your website too complex
Your first website doesn’t need to answer every question about your restaurant. Websites can be updated at any time. When you have the time, resources, and budget, you can update your restaurant’s website with anything you want. For your restaurant’s first website, aim for a simple website that looks as good on a smart phone as it does on a 21″ computer monitor, and that answers the key questions your customers have. Which brings me to…
2. Focus on the information your customers need
When I’m looking at a website for a restaurant, there are only five things that I care about:
- Phone Number
- Specials / Happy Hour
- Address with a link to Google Maps
- Hours of Operation
- Current Menu
I ignore everything else on the website. I just focus on finding these five pieces of information. Why? Because if I’m looking at a restaurant’s website, I’m hungry and I want to find someplace to eat!
Your restaurant website should focus on providing me with answers to these pressing questions. Forget about that fancy photo gallery showing people eating meals in your restaurant. Forget about having a monthly newsletter of your specials. You can add all of those things later. For now, just focus on giving customers what they want from your website.
3. How do I build a website for my restaurant?
Let’s Eat and Squarespace are two great services to help you build a simple, professional, easy-to-maintain website for your restaurant. Blog services like WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Blogspot, etc., are usually not the best fit for restaurants, because they’re designed around the concept of blogging (i.e., writing time-sensitive posts). However, if your restaurant’s menu changes daily, a blog-style website might work well for you.
Let’s Eat is a Web service that lets you easily create a website for your restaurant. You can post your menu online, create printable coupons for your customers, optimize your menu and website for iPhones and other mobile devices, use social media, integrate Google Maps, and tons of other cool features.
You can opt to either use their free, ad-supported version, or their “pro” version for a monthly fee.
Squarespace lets you build, host, and design websites on a custom domain (i.e., yourrestaurantname.com), starting at $10/month. Squarespace is ideal for someone who wants an image-heavy website, 24/7 customer service support, or the convenience of keeping all of their website needs (hosting, domain registration, content management, and design) in one place.
Squarespace websites also look beautiful:
However you choose to build your website, be sure to include the five key elements of a restaurant website—your phone number, specials, address, hours, and menu—and you will make your customers very happy.