Text

How Restaurants Should Work With Their Web Designers

Many restaurants hire professional designers to build their website, but hiring a professional doesn’t guarantee a great result.

We talked to Jill Parks, Creative Director of Savannah design firm Sans Sheriff for tips on what to do (and not do) to give you the best chance of getting an amazing restaurant website that works for you and your customers.

Before you build your website

  • Picking a designer. Website design is a collaborative process. A great portfolio is a must, but you have trust and communicate with them. 
  • Know your message.  Help your designer by telling them what’s most important to you. Online ordering? Reservations? Your menu? Your famous chef? This will provide the designer with an organizing principle.
  • Invest in quality images. It rarely works to “sit there with a regular ‘ol camera and take food pictures,” says Jill. You are selling food; the food should look tasty. A good designer will have an unbiased, educated eye for what photos work best.

During the build

  • Be upfront about what you want. Having examples of websites you like will help focus design discussions set appropriate expectations up front.
  • Listen to the designer. It should be “a collaboration…a give and take,” says Jill. but remember that just as “the restaurant is the expert on food, the designer is the the expert [on web design].” Trust is key.

After you launch

  • Track site analytics. There are free tools your designer can give you so you know what your customers do on your website- what pages they see, buttons they click, etc. The data you get from analytics will tell you if you built the right site.
  • Update your website. Check-in every few months to make sure the site is working for you and your customers. Just like you review the menu with your chef, review the analytics with your designer. You must have a way to update site content yourself or budget updates from your designer.

A website is often the first experience a customer has with your restaurant. You should take building and maintaining it seriously. If you use a designer, use one you like, trust and respect. You’ll get a lot more out of working with them.

Related:

Dos and don’ts of your restaurant website.

About

Jillison Parks is Creative Director of Sans Sheriff Studio, multimedia designer and creative consultant with over fifteen years of experience in graphic design, technical writing and information management. She recently designed websites for Angel’s BBQ, Papillote and the Moon River Brewing Company.

Text

Better Restaurant Websites: 3 Dos, 3 Don’ts

For those of us who sit in front of a computer all day it can be hard to remember that much of the world does not. They stand in front of customers or pace around work sites. The computer is secondary to how they work.

Mobile is changing this. People who previously engaged tech briefly (if ever) at the end of the day are now consuming content and information continuously via their phone. We’ve blogged about this before. But while restaurants are learning to consume information via technology, creating engaging, helpful content is another story.

A study by Restaurant Science, a restaurant data provider, reports that only 5% of restaurants have a mobile-optimized website, and only 40% have their menu online.  TechCrunch has a good synopsis.  Get with it, people! Such a loss to not have quality restaurant marketing for such a vital channel.

A good restaurant website can be built in a day by following a few simple rules. Some quick Dos and Don’ts:

Dos

  • Contact info: It ain’t sexy but many site visitors just want to know where you are or ask a simple question - an address, map and phone number should be prominent. 
  • Menu: You should have a menu on your website and it should be up to date. If you have the holiday specials listed in February, you fail.  And no PDFs! Downloading a PDF is an iffy proposition. The menu should be regular text.
  • Content management: You should be able to update and change the content on your site easily. If it isn’t easy, you won’t do it.  And definitely make it readable on a phone.

Don’ts

  • Music. Many people search for restaurant info from their job. When your carefully chosen playlist launches automatically, they’ll get annoyed, close the browser window in half a second, and never come back. 
  • Flash: Flash was sexy in the 90s but is slow to load and unsupported by some technologies. Unsupported means visitors can’t see flash elements. It is like putting a big, expensive blank hole in the middle of your site. Bad.
  • Text: Be to the point and stop. You wouldn’t camp out at a table and chat up a customer throughout their whole meal. You’d make quick, warm contact and leave them alone. Same online.

These Dos and Don’ts should simplify your restaurant website, making it easier, faster and less expensive to build and maintain. It is easy to do online restaurant marketing right. So do it right.