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Only a few short years ago a restaurant owner could have argued that there was no need for their restaurant to have their own website. Times have changed and very quickly. Restaurants and the food they serve have become a part of the culture. In the era of social media and food bloggers – restaurants no longer need to be written up in the New York Times to get attention and stir excitement. The mentality of the mom and pop restaurant cannot survive without being mindful of branding, image and online presence. We’ve put together a 5 point list to guide as a restaurant website design checklist based on the current tech-driven world of food.

When considering how to best design a restaurant website it is important to consider a few basic items to keep you on the right track.

Restaurant website design checklist or “MUST HAVES” for a great restaurant website:

Image is everything – The internet is your canvas, keep consistent with your on-site image and branding but make sure to build a beautiful website. A place that makes users feel comfortable spending some time on and keeps your branding as a key focal point during the user’s visit. Keep the navigation simple but informative. Great restaurant websites don’t have too many bells and whistles and make their information easily accessible to their users.

Mouthwatering food pictures – Yes, your cousin’s boyfriend has a great camera but does he know how to take professional food photos? Is he proficient in Photoshop and post production? When it comes to your restaurant website design checklist, you want to invest a little money and do things right the first time around. Find a professional food photographer and build a library of gorgeous visuals to entice customers to eat your food. Using stock photos you found online is not something you can get away with when it comes to food, people want to see what YOUR burger looks like, not what a TYPICAL burger looks like. Plus you can use your pictures on your website, social media, menu, email marketing, etc.

Email subscription sign up – Part of your restaurant website design checklist should be finding a way to capture some details of your visitors. What better way to invite future communications then with a quick email sign up. This simple tool can be the catalyst to engagement with users. You don’t want to overdo it or become a nuisance or distraction your visitors , but don’t the right way it’s a proven effective tool. Once they have signed up to receive alerts and updates, you can consider them as pre-qualified as wanting to hear from you. A good email marketing program will turn that interest into dollars.

Responsive, not just mobile friendly – Today’s restaurant website design checklist is a bit different then a checklist you might have used even just last year. Not only should your website be mobile friendly, it needs to be able to adapt or be “responsive” to any device your potential visitor might be using. Users have little patience for scrolling and stretching. Make sure your website design consists easy mobile navigation so that users can access you anywhere from various tablets, phones and of course a desktop/PC .

CTA buttons – A good restaurant website will include at least one call-to-action (CTA) button – usually with one of them being an order now function. It is prudent that you have a way to convert your visitors into orders directly by using a flat rate online ordering partner (the 9Fold online ordering system can help with this of course). It is not recommended that you go out of your way to advertise Grubhub, Seamless or any other number of commission based third party players with their branded buttons on your website. Your visitors already sought you out and made it this far to find your direct website, why turn them around at the door and put them into the hands of someone charging you commission. Other CTA buttons might be “Call Now” which is good to have set up properly for mobile visitors as well as a “Make a Reservation” button if you have a system for that in place. The CTA buttons truly depend on what your business goals are, this is why they will certainly vary from restaurant to restaurant.