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How to build the best websites for restaurants

Most diners research restaurants online before making a selection. As a restaurant owner, you can use this behavior to your advantage. By maximizing your digital presence and designing your website to appeal to hungry customers, you can boost conversions and increase orders.

The best websites for restaurants are designed with customers in mind — they provide practical information and emotionally compelling content that convinces people to make a reservation, order delivery, or stop in for a meal. As you get started, it’s helpful to understand why a good restaurant website matters and what you can do to make your mark online.

The importance of a strong online presence

An online presence is nonnegotiable in today’s restaurant industry — it’s how potential customers discover your brand and decide whether they want to eat at your restaurant. Your website is the cornerstone of your brand’s digital identity and restaurant marketing strategy. A Touch Bistro survey found that 84% of restaurant goers always or frequently check out restaurants’ menus before they come in for a meal, and 79% visit the restaurant’s website.

A website has one key advantage over other parts of your online presence: You’re in control of the content. On social media platforms, the algorithm determines what users see; customers can say whatever they like in online reviews. When it comes to your website, you decide what visitors see and when. A custom domain and a high-quality restaurant website design create a positive experience that converts casual visitors into customers.

Other benefits of a good restaurant website include:

  • Increased visibility. A website that’s optimized for search engines is more likely to pop up when a customer searches for nearby restaurants or specific cuisines. It’s an effective way to get your business in front of diners who are in the mood for food.
  • Better engagement. You can use your restaurant website to engage customers by requesting reviews, promoting your loyalty program, encouraging email signups, providing social media links, or offering special discounts. The more interaction they have with the brand, the more familiar it becomes. This top-of-mind awareness can give you a significant advantage over other local restaurants.
  • Improved customer satisfaction. A carefully organized website design allows easy navigation so customers can find exactly what they need quickly. A seamless browsing experience reduces frustration and leaves users with a good impression of your business.

Taking time to perfect your restaurant website can pay off in the long term with better search rankings, happier customers, and increased revenue.

Key features of restaurant websites

Ready to take your website to the next level? Make sure it has the key restaurant website elements customers need most. 

Online restaurant menu

Before a diner chooses your restaurant, they want to know what’s on your menu. Create a special page on your website for this purpose — and then link to it in the main navigation bar so website visitors can spot it at a glance.

Whenever possible, type each menu item description directly into the text of the page; that makes it easier for search engines to read. When people are searching for a specific dish, your website is more likely to appear on the first page of results. If you prefer to use a PDF of your menu, optimize it for search engines.

Easy online ordering

After a busy day, customers often like to pick up food for takeout. A user-friendly online ordering system makes it easier to capture these orders.

Successful online ordering systems:

  • Provide a fast, uncomplicated experience
  • Accept a variety of digital wallets to streamline payments
  • Notify customers when their order is ready

Include a prominent “Order Online” button on every page of your website. That way, guests can start an order as soon as they’re ready.

Mobile-responsive design

About 50% of all website traffic in the United States happens on mobile devices. For restaurant websites, that number may be higher; customers often use their phones to look up places to eat and check reviews.

To ensure your website is usable for these diners, choose a mobile-responsive design — one that adapts the website design, layout, font size, and menus to suit the user’s device. Mobile-friendly sites allow viewers to read the text and use the navigation menu easily, even on a small screen. Most website platforms offer website templates and themes with this functionality.

Reservation system

Does your restaurant accept reservations? Enable customers to book a table directly from your website. This strategy helps you capture and keep diners’ attention in the moment. If they have to leave the website, search for contact information, or book by phone, they’re more likely to be distracted or diverted to a competitor. Online bookings also reduce your in-house call volume and streamline your waiting list. 

The reservation system should be accessible from every page on the website. You might include a “Reservations” link in the main menu or add a button to each page.

Professional photos

Beautiful visuals are an essential part of a great restaurant website; after all, customers eat with their eyes first. When a website visitor is hungry, a few mouth-watering food photos are all it takes to convince them to give your restaurant a try.

Don’t stop with food photography; interior images can also move the needle in your favor. If a diner is looking for a specific atmosphere for a date, family event, or gathering with friends, they often look at photos of the dining area to gauge the vibe. A professional photographer can help you showcase the best elements of the restaurant, all while creating realistic expectations.

Did you know that you can get a free professional photo shoot when you partner with Grubhub? Our photographers work to make your menu look as mouth watering as your cuisine. If you’re an existing Marketplace partner, you can still schedule a free photoshoot or reach out to your Account Advisor to learn more.

Delivery-service integration

Third-party delivery services such as Grubhub are booming — a trend that’s expected to grow significantly over the next few years. Enable your customers to order delivery by integrating your website with Grubhub. It’s an easy, affordable way to access professional drivers and industry-leading ordering technology. And since customers are already familiar with the Grubhub name, your restaurant benefits from established trust and a proven track record.

Did you know that your restaurant automatically gets access to Direct when you partner with Grubhub Marketplace? Direct is a branded online ordering platform that can integrate with a restaurant’s existing website to take commission-free orders. Direct includes all the tools restaurants need like built-in digital order and food delivery, automatic online menu updates and access to customer data.

How Grubhub magnifies your web presence

Grubhub makes it easier to build a restaurant website that’s both beautiful and user-friendly. With Direct restaurant website builder, you can create a branded online ordering site. Use it as your primary site, or integrate it into your existing website — when customers visit, they can browse the menu and order online for delivery or takeout.

Need to make a change to the menu? Update it in one place and the system pushes the edits to your Direct website and the Grubhub marketplace to ensure all listings are up to date.

Ready to supercharge your web presence? Sign up for Grubhub today.

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