Your website’s primary mission is to make it easy for potential customers to learn about you and contact you.  It’s also your opportunity to begin building trust.

If you don’t have a website or visitors can’t easily find the information they’re looking for because (a) it’s buried in content or (b) is missing from your site entirely, they’ll move on to your competitor’s website, get the information they want and likely go there for dinner.  This marks a huge missed opportunity for you.

The key elements to include on your restaurant’s website are simple and an absolute must if you want to be in the running for their next place to dine. We’ll share those elements with you and how to include them in your website.

A note about Mobile Responsive Websites

Missing from the list of five crucial elements is a mobile responsive website. Why, you ask? Because mobile responsive websites have been a base expectation for over 5 years now.

Over 80% of consumers have searched for a restaurant from their smartphone.

That’s right, you are expected to have a website that smartphone users can easily view and navigate without pinching and scrolling.  This is especially true for restaurants since over 80% have searched for a restaurant from their smartphone.

5 Crucial Elements

Without further ado, the five crucial elements every restaurateur must include on their website are:

  1. USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
  2. Phone number
  3. Address
  4. Menu
  5. Hours

Having these key elements builds trust with your customers and people you’d like to become your customer. There are so many options for dining, why should they choose you?  Your website needs to make it easy for them to learn about, contact and find you.

USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

Upon landing on your homepage you have three seconds to tell your visitors who you are, what you do and why you’re different. That’s your USP (unique selling proposition).

Your homepage has a few jobs, first and foremost is to grab their attention and convey your USP.

 Home page to The Vortex restaurant illustrating their unique selling proposition.
The Vortex clearly state its unique selling proposition. Caution: Always keep your target market in mind so as not to offend. (orgy? Yikes! Cover your eyes Grandma!)

Unless you’re a famous chain restaurant, visitors may not know what type of food you serve or why you’re different. The most effective way to grab their attention fast is to show a mouth-watering photo of one of your popular dishes.

Please, not a slideshow of every menu item because it distracts the visitor from what you want them to do – stay engaged, get the information they’re looking for and ideally stop by.

Additional photos throughout your site keep their attention, but on the homepage, keep it simple.  Your USP and one photo.

A Word About Photos

Food is notoriously difficult to photograph without appearing plastic or greasy.  Often amateur photos also reflect a weird color (green or blue). Yuk. Lighting is crucial which is why professional photography is a must.

Phone Number

People may want to call you for obvious reasons such as to find out if you accept reservations or ask if they could be added to your waiting list.

People are funny. They may want to call for not so obvious reasons – to find out if your fruit salad contains onions.

Regardless, you must include your phone number. Make it really easy for them to call by making your phone number clickable so their phone automatically calls out.

Address

Great news! Your prospective customer is sold on stopping by to try your food. Let’s go! What’s your address?

You should expect your user to visit you so of course you need to include your address.  It needs to be easy to find.  According to web design best practices, your address should be listed on every page in the footer and on your Contact page.

Optionally, you could include your address within or above your header if it’s tastefully designed. Don’t just plaster it there as an after thought.

Home page of 101 Steak website illustrating effective use of phone number, address and hours in the header.
101 Steak has a tastefully designed header that includes 2 of the crucial elements – phone number and address. Well done!

Provide a visual map to your location or better yet, a link to a mapping application so visitors can get directions from their GPS.

Murphy's restaurant shows a visual map in their brand colors so visitors can easily find them in an appealing way.
Murphy’s restaurant shows a visual map in their brand colors so visitors can easily find them in an appealing way. When the visitor clicks on the map they are provided directions.

Listing your address is a no brainer. No address? More chip, chip, chipping away at the trust you’re trying to build.  Worse than that, they’re just not coming.

Menu

A study conducted by SinglePlatform and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey revealed that 80% of consumers think it’s important to see a menu before they dine at a restaurant.  That’s a compelling number which is why menus makes the top five list of crucial elements.

Include your drink and food menus.  No PDFs please! For the love of Pete! Nothing more annoying than having to download then scroll and pinch around a PDF on your smartphone. In fact, the aforementioned study also revealed that 62% of consumers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device.

62% of consumers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device

Provide your visitors with a user-friendly way to peruse your food and drink options by categorizing them (e.g.  appetizers, main dish, soup & salads, dessert, specials, wine, beer, cocktails) so they can quickly locate the main category and drill down for more detail if they wish.

Photos, color and exquisite design of your online menu will keep their attention as they continue to navigate your site for more information.

The menu page for Lure restaurant]
LURE restaurant out of Atlanta, George gets it right with an easy to navigate menu broken into categories.

Of course, your menu must be kept up-to-date. Don’t include your famous seafood salad if it’s December and you only offer it during the summer. Totes annoy!

Hours

It’s 10:00 PM on a Tuesday and your future, most loyal customer is driving around looking for a place that serves great food.  There’s nothing more annoying than not finding your hours on your website then pulling into your dark parking lot.

That customer will probably never come back due to the inconvenience and annoyance. Plus, they wasted time driving to your location when they could have been heading toward a place that was actually still open.

The Florida Grill website showing their hours.
Florida’s Fresh Grill does a nice job of simply stating their hours.

Holidays are a popular time to eat outside the home. Make sure your website reflects special holiday hours if they are different from your standard hours.

Your hours are basic information every restaurateur should include on his website. Don’t overcomplicate it.

Conclusion

These are the absolute bare minimum elements for your restaurant website.  For each element missing from your website, the chances your potential customers abandon you for your competitor goes up, up, up.

There are additional really simple ways to raise the bar on your quest to build trust with your customers and grow your business. Once your website is mobile responsive and contains the 5 key pieces of information we discussed, you can begin to add these features:

  • Your Story
  • Online Reservations
  • Email Subscriber Form
  • Special Offers
  • Events
  • Gift Cards
  • Rewards Program
  • Catering
  • Nutrition Information

But this is another topic for another day.

I’d love to hear your story. Do you have a website that was missing key information? Did you correct that? What was your experience?


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