Successful Restaurant Websites Pt 1 of 4: Visitor Wants, Visitor Gets

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A restaurant’s website isn’t unlike other websites in that it needs to serve a number of functions at the same time. There’s a collision of the User’s Wants, Brand Wants, and Functionality/Accessibility.

Flash brings motion to pages and that motion/animation gets people pumped up. Sure, at first brush it’s great, but then you run into the problems of functionality and user wants. I’ll go into detail in another post, but for now, lets list what a user wants from your restaurant website.

1. What’s Cooking? Obviously, a first timer wants to know what’s on the menu. But that doesn’t mean you should have it plopped on a page as a PDF download. You need the menu on the actual page AND a PDF download. The menu on the page gets them the info right away. The PDF gives them a way to download it and print it for later. You need both.

2. What’s the Vibe? A first timer wants to know what the place looks like and what its vibe is like. Is it formal? Casual? Fun? Light? Manage expectations with photography of the locations and food, and also the design. A template website is going to look generic. A custom design will be tailored to deliver an expected vibe. That’s invaluable. This also plays into brand messaging.

3. Where are you? People want addresses and phone numbers. They want links to a map. Put these somewhere VERY obvious so people can find you quickly and easily.

4. What’s New? Is it fresh? Is the restaurant happening or did they put up a site and leave it at that. The site needs a news area. The site needs a way to feature new dishes and specials. Most importantly, the site needs updated frequently. This is prime reason for using a content management system tailored to restaurants like VIM.

4. Opportunities to Save. Now they want to see if they can save a little bit on their visit. They’ll look for ways on your site, on Twitter, Groupon, FourSquare and various other places. But why not just list them in one area? Put this info in one location for them to find and choose. Your goal with any discount program is to get them to visit then worry about increasing the ticket while they’re there.

5. Connect & Contact. Finally, then want to connect to you. They want you to talk to them. Do this through Facebook, Twitter and email. Give them the means to ask you to reach out then make sure you actually reach out!

Your visitors/users come first. You have to deliver what they want and get it to them quickly or you’ll lose them every time. Make sure these 5 elements are present on your restaurant’s website and win.

What are features you like seeing on a restaurant’s site? What features do you hate?

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