Do’s and Don’ts for Restaurant, Bar, and Cafe Websites

restaurant

The food service industry has different needs when it comes to a website. They need a menu interface and maybe review integration, but a lot of restaurants get it all wrong when it comes to websites. That’s why we’ve put together this list to help restaurants, bars, and cafe bring their websites out of 2002 and make a splash.

DO post your menu with prices.
The number one thing people want to know when they go to your website is what you serve and how much it costs. Even if your menu is seasonal and constantly changing, provide a sample menu so people know what type of food to expect and how much they can expect to pay for it. If your website only contains literally one thing, let it be a menu.

DON’T link to your PDF menu.
Forcing a user to download your 80 MB menu is not the same as having it available on your website. Save the PDF as an JPG so you can embed it right into the page, or just copy paste the text.

DO put your address and phone number on every page.
The header or footer is a great place for your address and phone number, and while you’re at it, your hours of operation would be good to have on every page, too. People aren’t on your website for an experience, they are there for information. So give it to them!

DON’T auto-play music.
This could be a whole post in an of itself, but let us be totally and completely clear: auto-playing music on your website is NEVER a good idea. While many websites are guilty of this web sin, there’s no bigger offender than the restaurant industry. No matter how much you think that a recording of a mariachi band will set the scene for your Mexican restaurant’s website, what it will actually do is be intrusive. Your visitors may be listening to their own music, or worse still, be in a quiet place where your website will become a larger disturbance. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

DO be mobile-compatible.
As a restaurant, you’re definitely going to get mobile traffic. Whether you go with a responsive design or a separate mobile site, make sure your menus, location, and phone number are prominent for mobile users so they can find your most important information quickly.

DON’T rely on flash.
You’ve seen it before. The website with a smooth photo montage introduction that slides away to reveal an elaborate video-infused website. Here’s a good example (or should we say terrible example), and it even has music to boot. If you can’t highlight any of the text on the page, that website is in flash. And guess what? Since you can’t access any of that text, neither can search engines. That means you’re not coming up in searches as often as you should be, so people aren’t finding your restaurant. Last but not least, flash is not universally mobile compatible, so you’re losing customers on smartphones and tablets, too.

DO post photos of the food.
Note: only if you can find someone who knows how to do great food photography. If so, photos of menu items can go a long way to whetting potential customers’ appetites. Bad food photos, on the other hand, will only backfire. If the photos don’t look enough to eat themselves, leave them off.

DON’T use Papyrus.
For some reason restaurant websites just love Papyrus. This font has been done. It’s been done again. And it’s over.

DO integrate good reviews.
A block of copy that says “We have friendly service and great food” is nowhere near as powerful to your potential customers as a review that says “Amazing food – great service.” Where ever possible, use real customer reviews to get your point across. Yelp provides API integration so you can display snippets of reviews, but copy-paste works too! Just keep the integrity of the original review, and if you are copy-pasting, ask the writer for permission to reproduce the review.

DON’T forget to include your specials.
For some unbeknownst reason, tons of restaurant websites forget to include happy hour specials, lunch deals, and special events nights like trivia or karaoke. This is prime homepage material, folks!

We hope this is helpful, and that your restaurant, bar, or cafe website will be a hit!