The overwhelming majority of searches for a restaurant begin online. In fact, restaurants rank first among all businesses in local online searches. And with nearly 90% of online restaurant searches resulting in a sale, you cannot afford to have a mediocre website. Prospective customers have a variety of expectations when they review restaurants online and it is your duty as a restaurant owner to ensure that these expectations are met. Below are the top 15 things that customers expect from your restaurant website.
1) A mobile-friendly design. More prospective customers than ever are using their tablets and smart phones to search for restaurants. Make sure that your website is responsive and compatible with mobile devices.
2) An online menu. Prospective customers want to see what types of food you offer. Posting an online copy of your menu will help entice customers who are looking for the particular type of food that you sell.
3) Means of making a reservation. If you create an effective website, some of your prospects will fall in love with your restaurant right away. Ensure that it is easy for them to make a reservation online or by telephone.
4) An inviting user experience. Your website should capture and communicate your restaurant’s ambiance. Also, your website should be easy for visitors to navigate and search for desired information.
5) The price range of food offered. New customers may have certain budgetary parameters they need to abide by. Posting prices or a price range for your dishes will help your patrons be prepared for payment and help avoid customer disappointment.
6) Contact information. Some customers want to have a live telephone conversation or e-mail exchange prior to visiting your restaurant. Make sure that your telephone number is clearly listed on your website. You should also include a means of reaching your restaurant by e-mail.
7) Photos of your restaurant. Photos are often instrumental in attracting new patrons to your restaurant. They provide patrons with an idea of your establishment’s ambiance and the degree of formality for your restaurant.
8) Customer reviews. Customer reviews lend credibility to your restaurant and can help you attract diners in search of an established, well-liked eatery. Accordingly, make sure to designate a section of your website to customer feedback and reviews.
9) Hours of operation. Posting your hours of operation on your website will help reduce the number of disappointed customers who arrive at your restaurant only to find that it is closed. Be sure to post any special holiday hours of operation or closings well in advance.
10) Your restaurant’s location. Prospective customers will often plug your address into their GPS or use your online map to find the most direct route to your restaurant. Your restaurant’s location should be advertised on your website within close proximity to your contact information.
11) Nutrition and allergy information. A growing percentage of Americans are seeking restaurants that cater to customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Use your website to highlight any gluten-free or reduced fat dishes that you may offer.
12) Honors and awards. Make sure prospective customers are aware of any industry honors or awards that your restaurant has received. Like positive customer reviews, honors and awards can build your restaurant’s credibility and reputation.
13) Speed. Prospective customers will often abandon a website whose pages take longer than two or three seconds to load. Ensure that your website is regularly reviewed to ensure that visitors can navigate quickly through your site.
14) A social media presence. The majority of restaurants now have social media sites to promote new dishes and restaurant updates. Including links to your Facebook or Twitter sites is just one more way to solidify your restaurant’s role as an industry player.
15) Special events and private dining opportunities. Some people are in search of a restaurant that will accommodate a large party of guests or a special event. Be sure to highlight your ability to serve large groups of diners if your restaurant has the capacity to accommodate them.
Remember that your website is the online face of your restaurant. The design of your website will often dictate whether a prospect decides to visit your restaurant. By heeding the tips above as you create your website, you will be one step closer to a full house at your restaurant.